31st August 2022 | Blog Posts
In the 30 years since John Perkins Construction was established, there have been many defining moments along the way. Commercial Director Alex Jenkins looks back on five key moments from his career at JPC.
1. An eye-opener of a Victorian mansion
My first project at JPC was the refurbishment of the Grade II* listed Victorian mansion, Clevedon Hall, in 2014, to create a luxury wedding venue. Big and complex, it was quite an undertaking for someone new on the job, but I found it incredibly enjoyable. The way that JPC operated, particularly in terms of management of Health & Safety, was an eye-opener in a positive way.
As I moved up at JPC, Rupert Perkins and Rob Yeandle really believed in me. When I started, I was the only QS, but they gave me the opportunity to build the commercial team within JPC and structure it the way I thought was best. Getting that structure right, and growing the team, has been the backbone of what we’ve been able to achieve since those days at Clevedon Hall.
2. The gravity of working on a Scheduled Monument
It’s not every day you work on a Scheduled Monument! One of our biggest projects to date was the restoration of Underfall Yard, a true landmark of Bristol Harbourside, dating back to the early 1800s, when it was constructed under the auspices of William Jessop and Isambard Kingdom Brunel.
Funnily enough, I don’t think I let myself see the gravity of working on part of Bristol history while the project was ongoing. It’s easy to be overtaken by the nitty-gritty of daily management.
However, I remember attending the Bristol Civic Society Design Awards, held at the Arnolfini and hosted by Grand Designs’ Kevin McCloud. Alec French Architects, the design team for the Underfall Yard restoration, was awarded one of those distinctive blue plaques. In that moment, the gravity of it hit me.
In retrospect, what the whole team managed to accomplish really floored me.
3. Becoming a director at 32
Becoming a director was a dream of mine since the day I started in the industry.
I feel proud that Rupert and Rob have trusted me with the responsibility for managing Pre-Construction and Delivery of all projects. JPC always felt like the right fit for me; the family feel, the relationships with people, and the company values.
I remember the day of the JPC management meeting where it was officially decided that I would become the Commercial Director. I was extremely proud. I rang my now-wife, Hannah immediately, and stopped by my parents’ house on the way home to share the good news.
4. First major job in Wales
I was born and bred in Newport, and I still live there with my young family, so I was always keen for JPC to take on projects in South Wales. I spent years advocating for a move into the Welsh market, but I was also aware that it was a big risk to step outside our comfort zone of Bristol and South-West England.
It took three years of laying the groundwork before we were able to secure our first major job in Wales. They were a tough few years, with several opportunities that didn’t ultimately get off the ground. We were in the running for the Newport Transporter Bridge Visitor Centre project, but that was delayed.
However, we hung in there, and secured a refurbishment project for an international blue chip client at a major Welsh airport. It was a huge confidence boost. Afterwards, everything began to fall into place for us in South Wales. The Transporter Bridge Visitor Centre has the green light, and we’re also on site at Coleg Gwent Further Education College and local charity Newport Mind. It proves that trusting your instincts pays off.
5. Winning Building Contractor of the Year
One of the most surreal moments of the last couple of years was sitting in the meeting room of the JPC Bristol office, eating takeaway pizza, one chilly April evening. A man in a tux burst in the door and up the stairs. There was a camera in my face and he was saying, “Congratulations!”
This was the news that we’d been named Building Contractor of the Year: England (Turnover Under £15m) at the Construction Awards of Excellence 2020, a prestigious awards scheme that covers the whole of the country. The ceremony was held virtually due to the pandemic, with roving presenters sent out to surprise the winners. It was certainly a memorable way to win a big award!
The accolade also represented quite a standard for a smaller contractor like JPC to set. What was even more heartening was that we won the award on the basis of the work we did at The Corsham School. It’s a project I relate to a lot, because it encapsulated everything that’s in our mission statement:
Our mission is to ‘make it happen’ for our clients by working collaboratively – guided by our core values of honesty, openness, integrity and flexibility.
I truly believe that it’s our open, honest approach, bringing people together, which has differentiated us from the competition over the last 30 years.