Regional lobbying organisation Construction Alliance North East (CAN) has appointed two new board members for 2022 as the alliance’s first chairman Jeff Alexander and long-time board member Jack Redfern step down from their positions.

Peter Fowle, managing director of Able Construction (Northern) Limited and regional President of the NFB, and Matthew McCarrick, managing director of McCarrick Construction and NCBF board member, join the CAN board, bringing more than 60 years of industry experience to their roles.

Having started out as a quantity surveyor and estimator, Fowle, who also chairs the Northern Counties Safety Group, launched his own business in 1988. He said: “I believe I have extensive knowledge of the regional industry, first-hand experience of the lost opportunities with Local Authorities and have hands-on experience of running an SME in the North East.

“There will be a lot of companies who have not heard of CAN or what we do. It is important therefore that we make the local industry aware that we are here and are working on their behalf.”

Fowle has encountered many issues for SMEs in the North East through his years and is keen to ensure other businesses have access to support. He added: “I have augured for many years that Frameworks are not always the answer. Many construction firms and employers have been lost due to Local Authority work going to someone who can provide a glossy brochure. One day they may realise there are no local contractors left. We have spent years and years getting onto Frameworks with no work actually being awarded.”

CAN was formed in 2015 to better represent regional SME contractors in the North East and has grown to represent more than 500 businesses in the region since. It consists of a collection of construction and civil engineering contractor bodies which has a combined turnover of £3bn.

McCarrick’s route into construction took a different route to Fowle. After completing a commercial management degree in Manchester, he was soon propelled into high profile commercial projects, including the Trafford Centre and various buildings and studios that make up the BBC’s MediaCityUK development in Salford.

He ran a number of multi-million pound military accommodation projects with Lendlease in North Yorkshire before returning to the North East in 2014 to join McCarrick Construction, which was set up by his grandfather in 1953 and subsequently run by his father Michael McCarrick.

A key objective for him in joining CAN is to assist the region’s SMEs with improving the working culture as well as procurement and tendering processes, which he states can be ‘inefficient.’.

“CAN provides a cohesive platform to raise our profile and show the country that in the North East our construction industry is organised and professional,” said McCarrick. “Our aim to enable SMEs to access opportunities is the most important element – at the moment it takes a lot of time and monetary investment for an SME to access the various procurement processes which we have found can be complex, time-consuming and inconsistent.

“Procurement can be a very inefficient process for time-pressed contractors. CAN has a range of ideas on how to either enable SMEs to access the various pipelines of work available or to try to make the processes involved simpler.

“At CAN I would like to be part of an improvement in the working culture of the North East’s construction industry. There can be a glass ceiling for otherwise talented tradesmen if their business administration practices miss the mark in a way that makes them seem a risky choice for contractors. At times I have been required to act as informal advisor to subcontractors who struggle with contractual or customer service issues.”

CAN chair Ken Parkin is only too aware of the issues facing North East construction firms in 2022, with the materials crisis of 2021 continuing to impact businesses at the start of the new year.

He said: “We are delighted to have Matthew and Peter join the Board of CAN and very much welcome them and the experience and knowledge they are able bring. They both represent solid, long-established North East SME contractors and are very familiar with the challenges faced by local companies operating in the construction sector. CAN has big plans for 2022 and I am sure Matthew and Peter will be able to play a major part in helping the alliance achieve its aims.

“I would also like to sincerely thank Jeff and Jack as they step down from the CAN board. They have both made a significant contribution from the very beginnings of CAN and were both instrumental in the formation and successful launch of the alliance. They are both extremely well-respected figures in the regional industry and I wish them well.”

For more information on CAN, visit http://www.constructionalliancenortheast.co.uk/