Ed and David Miliband’s battle for the Labour leadership was sibling rivalry as high politics. But what about brothers working in construction, even in the same company? We tracked some down and talked blood, sweat and tears. Photos by Julian Anderson
Jason and Peter Millett
Jason and Peter Millett are both well-known figures in construction. Jason, 45, is Mace’s director in the CLM consortium that is delivering the Olympic Games and was previously UK head of Bovis. Peter was at Bovis too, but is now managing director of Shepherd Construction’s west division.
According to Peter, who is five years younger, the similarities between them end with their having chosen the same industry. “There’re no similarities between us in the way we approach our work - other than that we have a strong work ethic and focus on success.”
Jason (who’s standing on the left in the large photo) agrees: “Peter’s more extrovert and impulsive, whereas I’m more measured,” he says, before adding that this hasn’t stopped the pair being close or got in the way of his role as the protective elder brother: “I’ve always looked out for him and I’ve had to get him out of a number of scrapes over the years. Particularly when he was younger. Though that’s not to say it’s all one way. He’s the first to come to my aid in times of need.”
It was Jason who helped get his brother a place at the Bircham Newton construction college in the mid-eighties and arranged sponsorship from Tarmac (their father’s company at the time). “It’s a real testament that someone starting out with a trade can still reach the boardroom,” says Jason on his brother’s rise through the ranks. “A real achievement in an industry now dominated by the professions.”
Jason got his start on a Bovis management training scheme. Peter says he guided him into management at Bovis, and gave him a great deal of advice along the way. “We’ve worked closely on projects, with Jason advancing into a role that oversaw my own projects and eventually the whole business. It’s not easy being related to a senior executive. However, the situation has allowed me to gain advice which wasn’t so freely available to others.”
How do the Millett brothers feel about the possibility of their own children following their footsteps into construction? “I would be delighted,” says Jason. “It’s a great industry.” Peter agrees but warns: “My advice would be that they would be joining a great industry but it’s a tough way to make a living.”
Graham and Richard Cherry
Graham and Richard have worked together for almost 30 years. They both joined Countryside Properties, the developer founded by their late father Alan, when they left university, and have both spent their careers working their way up through the firm. Graham is now chief executive and Richard is deputy chairman.
Neither went for the job of executive chairman on Alan’s death. Instead, Countryside’s 50-50 co-owner, Lloyds Banking Group, appointed Andrew Carr-Locke a former Wimpey finance director to the role.
Sibling rivalry emerged at an early stage. “When I was about five Graham was playing outside and called ’Richard! Come quick, you have to see this!’” recalls Richard, who is presently 49. “I ran out of the house and fell straight down a manhole outside the kitchen because Graham had taken the cover off.” “Richard is covered with scars from our childhood,” says Graham, who made the most of his extra two years. “One is on his tongue after I tried to push a screwdriver through it.”
Their mother died of cancer when they were young and they were raised by Alan, who would take them to the Countryside offices and sites. “We were brought up in the world of development,” says Graham.
The pair have different business personalities. “Richard is a born trader in terms of land opportunities,” Graham says. “And my strengths are more in planning, organising and people management.” Richard says “Sitting 10 yards from each other helps when we’re working out a strategy for survival or discussing specific projects or issues,” he says.
The Cherrys say that working for their father was a great experience, although they are not sure it is something they would want for their own children: “If any of them want to pursue the career, that’s fine, but it certainly won’t be a family dynasty - and they would only be hired on merit,” says Graham.
Nick and Peter Lintott
Nick (43) and Peter (41) are both business development managers at the office refurbishment and fit-out specialist Overbury. Peter deals with projects worth up to £3.5m and Nick handles anything over that.
Peter and Nick both share the same first memory of each other - mainly because there is photographic evidence of the moment. “I just remember my mother stopping Nick pushing me off a pier in my buggy,” says Peter. “Yes, I remember that clearly, too,” says Nick. “I think you wouldn’t stop crying and I decided I’d had enough of it.” Thankfully, Mrs Lintott was a woman with cat-like reflexes.
After spells spent travelling the world, Nick to Australia and Thailand and Peter to the US, both came back to work in office furnishings. Nick started his career at the John Lewis Partnership and eventually joined Overbury four years ago. He was swiftly followed by Peter who had spent 11 years in the same business. Before that he had been working in New York. “People do sometimes ask us about being brothers at work,” says Nick. “But it has never been an issue. People don’t find it all that strange … intriguing, maybe.”
It helps that they work in different divisions in London and on different types of project, so their paths don’t cross as much as people might expect - and even if they did, they doubt there would be any sibling rivalry. “Especially at the moment when it’s been such a tough year for the whole industry,” says Nick. “We pull together. We can empathise with each other.”
“I like working with Nick,” adds Peter. “He’s organised and focused and very motivated. We both aim for the best and so we learn from each other. He’s good company, too.”
As for their children following in their footsteps, neither thinks the fact they have both had girls means this could never happen. “You never know,” laughs Peter. “Recently both of our youngest children were really getting into the Lego! So we’ll see. I think, like all parents, we just want our children to do what makes them happy. As long as it’s something they are passionate about.”
Other brothers …
Richard and Peter Rogers
Richard Rogers and his younger brother Peter are arguably the best known siblings in the industry, although there is seemingly little interaction between the two in their working lives. Richard is the better known of the two, certainly outside the construction industry. Peter works on the client side of the industry and is now chief executive of Stanhope. Like his brother, Peter is well known for the iconic schemes he and his firm have worked on, including the Bishopsgate Tower, Paternoster Square and the Tate Modern.
Nick and Christian Candy
High-profile headlines, schemes and celebrity girlfriends mean that the Candy brothers, who are of Greek descent, are now as well known on the international social scene as they are in the construction and property industries. Nick, a former accountant, is generally considered to be the front man of the pair’s luxury property company. Christian, two years younger than Nick, runs CPC, his own company linked to, though technically separate from Candy & Candy. The Candies famously started off on with nothing more than a one-bedroom flat in Earls Court back in 1995.
Stef and Stelios Stefanou
These Greek brothers are Rich List staples and were ranked 426th in The Sunday Times’ 2009 list, jointly worth £125m. Stef, 68, moved from
chairman to chief executive of Welwyn-based construction group John Doyle in 2008. His brother Stelio, 57, chaired the Doyle maintenance operation Accord, in which he had an 85% stake, picking up about £115m when it was sold in 2007. Despite following similar career paths, the brothers are considered to be quite different when it comes to their personal lives and hobbies. Stef is well known for enjoying a wager, whether it is on the horses, in the casino or online. His younger brother has the odd bet, but keeps “well away” from online gambling.
Ray and Des O’Rourke
Ray O’Rourke, a former mini-cab driver, is now chairman and chief executive of Laing O’Rourke. He came to England from Ireland in 1967 aged 20 and started off as a construction labourer. In 1978 he set up R O’Rourke and Son and ran the company from the family’s garage along with his younger brother Des. The pair started with just £11,000 worth of work and an office in the utility room and built the business up for 20-odd years before Ray pulled off his famous £1 purchase of Laing in 2001. Like many other sets of brothers in the industry, one is more behind the scenes than the other, and in this case it is Des who is lesser known, although still in a senior management position as deputy chairman of the company.
Patsy and Johnny Byrne
With the brotherly relationship built into the company name, Byrne Bros is one of the UK’s best known concrete frame contractors. Set up in 1969 by Patsy and Johnny, the firm has been involved on some high-profile schemes, including the Heron Tower, Ropemaker Place, Central St Giles and the Shard. Johnny is chairman and Patsy is chief executive.