30 years of JPC: Rob Yeandle’s 5 moments that shaped me

27th October 2022 |

In the 30 years since John Perkins Construction was established, there have been many defining moments along the way. Chairman Rob Yeandle looks back on five key moments from his career at JPC.

1. An ending and a beginning

John Perkins & Son

John Perkins & Son had a 130-year history

John Perkins Construction was born at a point when another company went into receivership. After 130 years, John Perkins & Son – a staple of the Bristol building market – ceased trading. It felt like the end of something special.

I’d been working as a contracts manager for John Perkins & Son for some years. As the business closed, there was a real sense of sorrow; many associates and former clients told us how much the company would be missed.

It goes without saying that most businesses don’t provoke this type of goodwill. My colleague David Perkins and I realised that what was special about John Perkins & Son could be reborn. We decided to start our own company, including a nod to the old John Perkins name.

I remember sitting in a small solicitor’s office in the centre of Bristol, talking through the legal side of starting a business. It was overwhelming – scary, even – but it was also exciting.

2. Our first major project

Our first major project – at St George’s, a music venue in Bristol – was built on trust.

David Perkins

David Perkins at St George’s

St George’s Music Trust had worked with John Perkins & Son previously, and they chose John Perkins Construction as their contractor to convert the venue’s former church crypt, opening up possibilities for social spaces and recording studios.

It was a significant-sized job. And it was significant for other reasons, too. St George’s Music Trust put a huge amount of trust in us, a new company, to deliver the project. They did this because they trusted us as people.

The job was challenging, but we pulled it off. That’s a testament to my co-founder, David. He’s no longer with us, but his values still flow through the business. A great big man, but softly spoken, David was old-school when it came to business. He sincerely believed that “my word is my bond”.

We’ve carried that ethos through to the present day. It remains at the centre of our business 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.

3. Our first real office

David and I started the business working from home (during a time when that was unusual!). The day we purchased our first office space, a modest unit at Ridgeway Industrial Centre, felt momentous.

Ring, ring. “Good morning, John Perkins Construction …”

This was also the point when we hired our first office manager, Helen. It may sound silly, but having someone to answer the phones was transformative. Over the years, our team would grow, taking on Rupert Perkins in 1998 and Alex Jenkins in 2014.

The new office was also a catalyst for us to get bigger as a business. David had a vision for the future, and that included giving clients a more professional view of the company.

4. Into a new realm

City Academy Bristol

City Academy Bristol

In the beginning, JPC worked mainly on small-scale refurbishments. However, when we secured our first major Design & Build contract, for City Academy Bristol, it moved us into a new realm. We would be building a sports pavilion for the school – and we would be responsible for everything.

It was a project that proved to our clients – and to ourselves – that we were ready for more substantial projects.

5. Another move, and a new outlook

By 2014, we’d outgrown our original office at Ridgeway. It was time for more space – and a new outlook.

Enter: Dragon Court, an industrial park in St George. The name is fantastical, and the first time we saw unit 22, it felt a bit magical. I remember wandering around the unit with Rupert. It was a wide, open, empty space, full of possibility.

“It’s perfect,” I said to Rupert. “This could really work for us.”

Unit 22 Dragon Court has been our HQ ever since, now bolstered by a Newport office. Nowadays, the office is a hive of activity. I think the Rob of 1992 would be shocked to walk in the door and see the scale of the business, the number of managers.

What we have now is David’s vision, brought to life. “My word is my bond.” We still live by those words, doing what’s best for our clients, our supply chain, and our people.

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