Chairman’s update January 2022

So, here we are, at the start of yet another year, full of possibilities, challenges and the unknown.

For John Rowan and Partners, we’re confident it’s also going to be an exciting year, and one which won’t be defined by the pandemic, but which will offer and deliver many good things for our business and our people.

But first, let’s take stock of 2021 – what an ‘interesting’ year it turned out to be! We’d all hoped it would be an improvement on 2020, at least from a Covid perspective, but as we all know, it wasn’t to be. With lockdowns, rules coming and going, lateral flow tests and PCRs becoming part of our everyday language, along with new variants and symptoms, we’ve all had to learn to adapt and respond accordingly.

It would be easy to get fixated on these things, but I prefer to look at the positive: after all, we have achieved so much here thanks to the brilliant hard work and commitment that our people continue to deliver, along with the great relationships we always seek to foster with our clients, old and new.

We’ve handed over completed projects like the regeneration of the old West Ham FC ground, creating 200+ homes at Upon Gardens.

The third phase of the Green Man Lane project in Ealing has been completed – just two more phases and 400+ new homes to go!

We’ve won new work, including our first-ever contract from The Guinness Partnership in the shape of a major £50m regeneration project in Surbiton, Surrey, the £30m Vinyl Square project in Hayes with Network Homes, 100+ new homes for Shepherds Bush Housing and new housing projects for Hillingdon Council.

We’ve also just celebrated our third major consortium framework win in 12 months. We are now appointed on the £500m LHC framework, the £70m South East Consortium (SEC) and the £80m Communities & Housing Investment Consortium (CHIC) frameworks. An impressive feat by the Public Sector team at John Rowan and Partners.

Credit: Hilton Birmingham Metropole

And work has been continuing apace on flagship projects like the Birmingham Hampton by Hilton, part of the NEC programme and preparations for the forthcoming Commonwealth Games. As well as the final stages of the refurbishment of the 790 room Hilton Birmingham Metropole and the 1,059 room Hilton London Metropole.

Our tendering and frameworks teams have been kept fully occupied and their efforts have been bearing fruit – with the enticing prospect of some more project wins in the offing.

We’ve been busy producing forensic audits for live schemes in the Home Counties and beyond, helping local authorities manage their asbestos strategies, continuing a volume of cladding remediation work, and have produced a series of free advice notes to help the housing sector tackle the challenges of building cladding and external wall inspection programmes.

We’re working across the channel, too – in Paris, the Notre Dame Hotel project is progressing well, with completion due this summer.

You can also expect to hear more about our exciting plans for expanding our offerings for the education sector during 2022, building on the work we’ve already delivered. Watch this space for more!

A busy year ahead

2022 also marks a special milestone for us – we’ll be celebrating our 40th birthday! The fact that we’ve grown year on year, and are still in business four decades after setting up the company, is great testament to the fact that we’re continuing to deliver what our customers need, responding to sector requirements, spotted trends and opportunities, and building great relationships that help us win repeat work.

We also have a team who’ve been with us for long periods of time – many of our team have been on the journey with us for 20+ years, no mean feat in this sector. Our repeat award of Investor in People Silver status during 2021, shows that we truly are living up to our values and ethos, and that our people really do feel they matter.

Of course, the construction sector has changed over the years, and we’ve striven to reflect this in the way we’re structured and with the skills we bring together in our leadership team. We have to recognise it can be harder to build relationships with customers as increasingly, procurement departments are playing the lead role in contract awards and management. It’s harder – but we’re determined to keep trust and strong partnerships at the core of the way in which we operate.

I like to think our founder, the late John Rowan, would be proud of what we’ve achieved over the years, and of the ways in which the business he loved and nurtured has grown and matured. We’ll be holding some events to celebrate the anniversary and I’m sure we’ll be drinking a toast to him along the way, with some of his favourite dad jokes!

What of the next 40 years?

Well, if the last few years have taught us anything it is that we can’t rest on our laurels but must be willing to continue to change and demonstrate flexibility. We’ve been working on succession plans to help ensure the business can continue to thrive and grow long after myself and the other owners have retired.

It’s important we pass on the baton to the next generation to run it how they wish (and hopefully they’ll take on the good from us, and discard what isn’t!). We hope they will nurture and maintain the culture and values as first instilled by John Rowan right at the outset, allowing the business to grow and create opportunities for many others as well as improving/developing assets and enhancing communities.

Here’s to the next 40 years!