Turn up at a major property development across the world that is being handled by construction consultants Rider Levett Bucknall and the chances are that there is a Brummie in charge.
Five out of the nine Birmingham-based property and construction practice’s global board directors hail from the city or cut their teeth working in Birmingham.
Rider Levett Bucknall is once more supporting the Birmingham team of city council and private sector sponsors at MIPIM 2010, continuing a tradition of supporting MIPIM that goes back over several years. The business has more than 2,000 people in 80 offices across Asia, Oceania, Europe, the Middle East, Africa and the Americas. The firm provides cost management, project management and advisory services to the construction and property sector.
Since the Birmingham business of Bucknall Austin in the UK merged with Rider Hunt Levett & Bailey to become Rider Levett Bucknall, the company has forged ahead with a growing number of Brummies at the helm.
At the top is chairman David Bucknall, who works alongside chief executive officer Lance Taylor in Birmingham.
Born in Wolverhampton, David studied at Birmingham College of Art & Technology (now part of Birmingham City University) and qualified as a quantity surveyor in 1961 when he joined the family firm, which became Bucknall Austin. He has always lived in the West Midlands with his wife Moya.
Lance Taylor was born in Wolverhampton and attended South Bank Polytechnic.
Following a 15-year national career he is now based in Birmingham. He has always lived in Wolverhampton with his wife and two sons.
Bob Richardson, managing director of Rider Levett Bucknall in Australia, worked in Birmingham for Bucknall Austin from 1983 to 1986 and lived in Birmingham for the same time. His mother was born in the city and his sister and numerous nieces and nephews still live here. He now lives in Sydney, making regular trips back to Birmingham and the UK.
The managing director of Rider Levett Bucknall Hong Kong is Stephen Lai, who was born in Hong Kong. He studied in Hampshire from 1977 to 1980, then took a BSc degree course at the University of Aston in Birmingham and graduated in 1984. During his university course he worked at a A G Robottom in Birmingham and Wilson Large in Coventry.
The fifth Rider Levett Bucknall global director to have connections with Birmingham is Andy Ritchie. He joined Bucknall Austin 20 years ago and worked in Birmingham for six years before setting up the Manchester office and then going over to Hong Kong to do the same there.
His skills in this area are now being used in Saudi Arabia, where he moved last June to set up and launch a dedicated RLB office.
Chief executive officer Lance Taylor said: “As we already know in Birmingham, if you want a job doing properly you are better off with a Brummie in charge.
“At Rider Levett Bucknall we are very proud of our Midlands roots and the benefits of our ‘Can Do’ attitude. We are taking this message around the world and, as ever, we won’t be shy of telling everyone we meet at MIPIM where we come from.”
He points out that the growth of the UK business has been driven by the globalisation of the consultancy and repeat business.
“More than 60 per cent of our income comes from our top ten customers and 72 per cent comes from our top 20. We continually strive to maintain our 90 per cent retention rate of our client base.
“Rider Levett Bucknall has increasingly done more work locally on global projects which is a direct result of the global merger.”
A major opportunity arose almost immediately following the announcement of the London 2012 Games. Rider Hunt in Australia had significant experience from its involvement in the Sydney Olympics 2000 as well as the Beijing Olympics and it was this sharing of best practice that led to Rider Levett Bucknall securing a quantity surveying role for the 2012 games.
Rider Levett Bucknall has had a presence in the Middle East for more than 25 years and with financial investments now being made into public works such as infrastructure, schools, housing and hospitals, the Midlands team has been well placed to take advantage of new opportunities.
A new office was launched in Saudi Arabia last year and Rider Levett Bucknall is providing full time contract administration services to one of the major contractors on the King Abdullah Financial District, a whole new area of Riyadh which is being developed as a financial centre similar to Canary Wharf in London.
Closer to its Birmingham headquarters, Rider Levett Bucknall has continued to deliver to the regional market and has been appointed as project manager and quantity surveyor to the £30 million refurbishment of Warwickshire Cricket Club as well as providing cost management services to the £40 million world class manufacturing technology centre at Ansty Park research and development site outside Coventry. This is one of the largest public sector investments in manufacturing for many years.
Another recent sporting contract involves the new £320,000 national standard BMX track in Redditch where Rider Levett Bucknall is providing lead design, cost management and employers agent services. BMX became an Olympic sport for the first time in 2008 and a number of key organisations, including British Cycling and Sport England are fully backing the new track, seeing it as a key player in attracting potential world class athletes to the sport and the region.
Together with its French partner Sterling Quest, the Birmingham team has been appointed as specialist cost consultant to the Olkiluoto 3 (OL3) reactor in Finland, the first to be built in a decade. Upon completion OL3 will be the biggest nuclear reactor in the world and will start to pump out electricity in 2012.
One of the first construction professionals to achieve Investors in People (IIP) Silver status, Rider Levett Bucknall has this year moved up a place to take the number one spot in the The Daily Telegraph-sponsored Corporate Research Foundation’s “Britain’s Top Employers” table. It is also ranked 77th in the 2009 Sunday Times Best 100 Companies to Work For.
RLB has recently been shortlisted as a finalist in the Leadership in People Development at this years Constructing Excellence 2010 Awards and Building Awards 2010 Construction Consultant/Surveyor of the year for the second year running.