Contracting group pulls 10 top project managers from mainstream business to make sure major jobs come in “right first time”.
Wates Group is spending a seven-figure sum to take 10 project managers out of its mainstream business for a year to oversee the implementation of “right first time” measures on major projects.

The 10 individuals were given eight weeks intensive training by the £288m-turnover contractor before taking up their posts in January.

Managing director Rod Bennion explained that they would work with project supply chains to identify potential hiccups at the start of the project.

He said: “For example, if a project requires a certain type of cladding, they will sit down with the designers, the client and their consultants to identify how similar projects have gone wrong and when they have been done right.

“Then, once we get to the building stage, they will tell trade contractors the conversations we have had and identify the best ways to build it.”

The appointment of the project managers is the latest development in Wates’ “Improving Construction” initiative, which is aimed at raising margins by improving service.

In another move that is part of the same initiative, Bennion has appointed a director of design, John Rivett, who was formerly managing director of engineer White Young Green’s head office.

He will be responsible, among other things, for a team set up last year as part of the improvement plan. This is Wates’ value creation team, a five-strong group of architects and engineers that supports product-specific construction teams in the London area. London is by far the company’s biggest market.

Wates said the team had already had major successes. On one residential scheme, it identified a further 1000 ft2 of sales area for the client. In another case, it gained planning consent to add another storey to a building.

Commenting on the latest appointments, Bennion said: “The industry bemoans margins of 1%, but we only deserve better if we can add value. What we are doing with our project managers is not rocket science, but nine times out of 10 it just doesn’t happen in the industry.”