Thank you for taking part in the new interview initiative for the UK Construction Community. Our aim is to champion the smaller and less known Construction Consultant and Contractor. We would welcome comments and recommendations from colleagues and the wider construction community. CMM would like to grow this conversation format into a forum to help small construction companies.
INTERVIEW WITH DEREK MYNOTT
CMM: Thank you for being prepared to share with us on CMM Derek, please tell our readers a little about yourself.
DEREK: I started in the industry as a management trainee with Bovis Construction, now known as Lendlease, and worked for Lovell as well as Willmott Dixon up until 1995. After this, I’ve worked for QS Consultancies to eventually own my own business Mynott Associates that I started in 2016. I also have a joint interest in a QS business based in Sri Lanka that works for contractors both here in the UK as well as Australia.
CMM: You must have seen a number of changes over your years of experience within the Construction Industry. Tell us about some of those Derek.
DEREK: the biggest changes I’ve seen that have been close to me has been the change in the uptake of technology and the way that contracts have evolved. I say that because at Bovis they bought 5 computers for each of their operating divisions imaginatively named as ‘B’, ‘O’, ‘V’, ‘I’ and ‘S’ divisions. Working in ‘O’ division that worked on the M & S schemes I was given full charge of the computer (not that I knew anything about them) it was just I was the trainee so expected to learn. How things have changed from then to how we make use of technology now with tablets, mobile phones and other devices. Similarly, in respect of contracts back then we were partnering with Marks & Spencer on numerous projects throughout the UK, we also worked on management contracts as well as fee contracts. Those contracts got copied by others leading to construction management but now we’re into design and build contracts in a big way. Almost every contract I see these days is design and build.
CMM: Why do you think clients have chosen to take the D & B route?
DEREK: I think the main driver behind this is time as its commonly perceived you can get to site quicker using D & B. I also think it’s seen as a way of making the contractor responsible for all of the risk and eliminating the claims for additional works and subsequent costs that go with it. I think the reputation for claiming extras on traditional contracts probably helped nudge the move towards this with clients and professional teams getting tired of contractors forever looking to charge for extra costs. Contractors pushed for it too as its seen as an early opportunity to get involved in a project and to manipulate the situation to their advantage as nearly all projects get subject to some form of ‘value engineering’ exercise that creates scope for the Contractors to be inventive with their cost savings. Viewing it in a positive way it does mean early involvement, potentially early specialist subcontract involvement too and best value solutions for the client.
CMM: There has been a push in recent years to encourage and train apprentices within the Construction Industry. Do you have any thoughts about this process?
DEREK: It’s not something that I’ve had any first-hand experience of recently because I’ve been put off by the costs, my perceived view of the bureaucracy an also quite frankly not being able to find anyone remotely interested. But having said that I do believe this to be a good thing for the industry across the board, we need new blood into the industry for all our futures. However to get apprentices interested in the industry, whatever their age or demographic, we do have to keep working on our image as a great place to work in, I know for me no two days are ever the same and I really enjoy the buzz you get from that.
CMM: I know this is a big question, Derek. However, I have heard you talk about our industry needing a ‘culture change.’ Can you explain here what you mean by that statement?
DEREK: I mean we need to trust each other more, but to do that we need to have an honest dialogue too. If you’ve made a mistake, then own up to it and agree on a joint way forward to solve the issue. Trust the team around you and don’t try and rip anyone off, pay promptly, on time and fairly, treat everyone with respect. Or as has been said to me many a time ‘treat those as you would like to be treated yourself.’ I had the first-hand experience of working in the M & S division in Bovis back in the 1980s and there was a huge amount of trust and respect for everyone from the client, design team, contractor, subcontractors and suppliers alike. It really was true partnering where everyone had the client’s interest at heart, get the job done on time and to the right quality, the money then looked after itself. Today I’m not so sure we have that, in pockets maybe where good relationships have been built up over the years, but not as a ‘norm’. I think we need to stand up and look at the way the industry conducts itself doing business and say enough is enough. Mark Farmers review ‘Modernise or Die’ has all the key ingredients it just seems that nobody is going to take up the challenge until something catastrophic happens to make us change.
CMM: Thank you so much, Derek, for taking the time to share your thoughts with us. We didn’t mention that Derek is an Arsenal supporter. It is much appreciated.