James Brett: Our MD in Profile
News | 14.07.21 |
Like many people who grow up in a family that operates a construction business, Edgeley Construction’s managing director, James Brett, has lived and breathed building sites from a young age. But spending school holidays on site didn’t dampen his enthusiasm for construction – far from it – it fed his passion for delivering quality buildings that protect London’s architectural heritage and create a legacy of their own.
“I never even considered a career in anything other than construction,” says James, “but as a kid, I enjoyed the practical side of the job and saw myself working ‘on the tools’ when I grew up. The more involved I became, however, the more interest I took in the problem-solving and buildability aspects of project delivery.
“That’s still what drives me today. My goal is to work collaboratively with clients to add value and strip out unnecessary complexity, risk and cost, creating buildings that enable people to live and work better, while enhancing our built environment.”
By the age of just 21, James was not only project managing, but also managing four successful projects concurrently worth more than £1 million each.
Now, aged just 30, as well as overseeing projects, he is running the business and implementing systems, training and technology that will allow Edgeley Construction to scale up, diversify and maintain high quality standards.
“Edgeley Construction has always been a family business and I am proud to be continuing to build on that heritage,” James continues. “As a second-generation MD, I am completely invested in nurturing client relationships and delivering projects that we can be proud of. I’m happy to say that developers trust us to get their projects off the ground.
“I believe we need to leverage our core strengths and the traditional skills that we’ve always offered as a business, while also focusing on the future. Construction is a very dynamic sector with lots of innovation and I aim to embrace that innovation across digitisation, sustainability, buildability and collaboration, to deliver the best outcomes for the project, the client and the end user.”
With hands-on understanding across a wide range of construction disciplines, James has been able to embed rigorous quality assurance systems across the business and ensure Edgeley Construction’s design development method statements leverage the most effective approach for each project.
“We are a progressive and agile business,” James continues, “but we’re not looking for new-fangled ways of doing things just for the sake of proving we’re forward-focused. A pragmatic approach to buildability and combining traditional skills with new construction materials, practices and technologies lies at the heart of how we add value.”
As a millennial, James is a digital native who has been able to see the value in digitising the business. Edgeley Construction’s systems have been integrated in Procore, which enables collaboration, co-ordination and transparency across delivery partners. It also ensures consistency and quality assurance, with real time documentation and quality management.
James continues: “It is quite unusual for a business of our size to invest in digitisation but we can see the benefits for project delivery and effective communication with the client. As the company grows, our digital construction systems will help us drive quality and management efficiency, which are core to our service offering.”
Also central to Edgeley Construction’s service is pre-construction, and this is another area that James is passionate about.
“Successful cost management, risk management and programme management are all dependent on the effectiveness of the pre-construction phase,” James continues. “My approach is to work with the client from the very earliest stage of the project – before the design is finalised – so that we can help them reduce risk and optimise quality. By identifying any issues – with the site, the design or the programme – we can find solutions that prevent delays, manage costs and drive high quality standards.”
Edgeley Construction is already working with clients in this way and James believes that the role of a contractor includes making proactive suggestions for improving buildability and reducing costs. However, he also believes that cost savings should never be made at the expense of quality or sustainability.
“As a company, it’s important we retain our integrity and we will always advise on the best solution for the project rather than our pockets. We are creating buildings where people will live and work so we have a responsibility to make sure they are comfortable, functional and safe.
“When we consider the built environment left to us by the Victorians, we are also standing on the shoulders of giants, so we have a responsibility to use the right materials, in the right way to complement existing buildings and deliver projects with operational efficiency and an extended service life.”
As James continues to develop the business, he is also focused on developing the team, with several members of staff currently working towards RICS qualifications.
“I take my responsibility as MD very seriously,” he adds, “and aim to be the kind of leader that nurtures and inspires others. But I also want to share that responsibility and ethos across the team so that our clients receive the same service and passion at every touch point.”