Home Business News Meet Robbie Blackhurst, the man transforming construction project delivery

Meet Robbie Blackhurst, the man transforming construction project delivery

by LLB Reporter
8th Jan 24 5:09 am

Robbie Blackhurst is the Founder and Director of Black Capital Group, the holding company that powers the Procure Partnerships Framework and the Compliance Chain digital platform.

One pushes the boundaries of how procurement can support public sector bodies to deliver their strategic targets, while the other allows users to understand their organisation’s performance by scoring their supply chain based on several KPIs such as health and safety and social value.

Robbie’s journey to business success commenced in 2017, when he made the decision to leave his role in Principal Contracting to realise his dream of a built environment procurement framework across the North West.

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Following its early success, Robbie soon expanded the framework on a national scale, and has recently diversified its offering to enable the delivery of projects in other key areas including Infrastructure and housing, while also supporting public sector organisations with additional services in construction project delivery and social value planning.

Robbie has disrupted and pushed the boundaries of public sector project delivery and sits down with us today to discuss his career, his belief that build environment projects should create social value and his take on the skills crisis that has been hamstringing the construction industry.

Why did you risk leaving a good career in principle contracting to start Black Capital Group? 

It was a difficult decision as I thoroughly enjoyed working for principle contracting organisations, but the lure to break away and build something that was truly my own was too great. The first company that was formed within the group was a public sector procurement framework. I had experience of working across a myriad of public sector procurement frameworks from a contractor perspective, but always thought with the right team we could do a better job that what was currently on offer to public sector organisations. Luckily, I can now say I was correct, and based upon the success of this company I have been able to diversify the groups offer into not only procurement, but digital tech for the built environment sector.

How has the built environment changed since you first entered it, especially in terms of your clients’ expectations?

Client expectations of what represents best value has definitely changed during the past decade. There is a far greater emphasis on creating long term partnerships and focusing on the whole lifecycle cost of projects and investment.

Clients have a far greater understanding of the true cost of their investments which has benefitted the industry. The lowest price option does not always win, that is a massive shift in outlook and a positive which supports the sustainability of the built environment sector and national economy.

In the past decade high profile company failures (such as Carillion) have had devastating impacts on the built environment sector and the move towards long term relationships is helping to turn the tide.

Your company’s project work emphasises the importance of creating social value. Why does it make good business sense and are other companies doing enough to incorporate it into their own strategies?

Social Value is an enormous element of what we do, to the extent that Advance Social Value, our Social Value consultancy business began trading this year.

Incorporating Social Value into business strategies aligns with government policy first and foremost, our detailed understanding the Social Value Act has allowed us to forge positive relationships with public sector clients across the UK and it has helped us to build resilient supply chains to support future projects.

Beyond that, by positively impacting local communities, businesses can build strong and supportive local networks, this all enhances reputation; it makes your business more attractive to investors, but the bottom line is that it is the right way to do business.

The war for talent is ongoing across all industries. Who is to blame? How do you deal with it as a business, and do you think the problem will ever be solved?

Employees cannot be blamed for seeking a better package and working environment, especially given the current challenges that most of the country is experiencing. It is the responsibility of employers to provide an environment that fosters job satisfaction; our approach is to focus on training and development and promoting from within.

Our strategy emphasises ongoing training and development, we invest in our workforce, their education, and their careers, I am a firm advocate of life-long learning having been supported throughout my own career.  Solving the problem starts with education and creating the right pathways to addressing industry-specific challenges.

Our own team has trebled from during 2023 and a point of pride is that this has been built from within by providing our team opportunity to take responsibility for growing their roles and developing their teams. We operate a very selective recruitment process, prioritising the right fit for our team over simply filling positions. This approach has ensured that we maintain a positive group dynamic and continues to foster a supportive and growth-oriented work culture that I am proud of.

Are companies within the built environment doing enough to promote sustainability? Do you think we need any changes to government policy if we are to achieve net zero?

The built environment contributes to 40 percent of the country’s carbon emissions, promoting environmental sustainability within the industry is therefore critical. The Paris Climate Agreement has put us on the road to net zero and adhering to the roadmap will in no small part be achieved by the built environment sector embracing new technology and environmentally sustainable practices.

However, social and economic sustainability cannot be side-lined. Within the built environment sector there is a scourge of suicide affecting many of our colleagues; there are countless examples of the supply chain bearing the brunt of failures within the sector and without this being addressed achieving net zero is not enough for the industry to consider itself sustainable.

What words of advice would you give someone before starting a business working within the public sector?

Working on behalf of the public sector is a fantastic opportunity not only is the public sector a stable and reliable area to work in it also encompasses such a wide range of projects that have a tangible impact on the communities we live in. Whether that be schools, hospitals, or housing.

The public sector places a huge onus on social impact, working on their behalf allows us to be involved in the development and improvement of local communities which is really rewarding. My advice is to get your foot in the door by working on smaller projects to establish your reputation and build up a portfolio of work. Focusing on a geographic.

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