Construction Corner

Issue 67

DAN HENDERSON AND RUSSELL RACK Directors of award winning surveying consultancy Subport.

Tell us about your career path so far?

Co-Director Russ and I had different routes into the industry, Russ started out as a trade apprentice progressing through to Site Management before making the move into Quantity Surveying. From there Russ quickly progressed into Senior Quantity Surveying positions working on projects in the Midlands before moving to the North East. Since moving to the North East Russ has worked for Tier 1 Contractors and a large UK developer delivering some prestigious projects including HMPO passport office and the refurbishment of Middlesbrough Town Hall. I started out as a graduate on a Tier 1 Contractor’s development programme, moving onto the management development programme. I spent over 10 years there progressing to Commercial Services Manager. I then spent some time client side at a Global Consultancy prior to moving back into Contracting. More recently I have held Senior Commercial positions at Tier 1 Contractors and a major UK developer.

You recently launched SubPort in the North East. Was this a long held ambition and what services do you offer?

SubPort was founded by Simon Robinson, an experienced Quantity Surveyor and Sophie Orrell, a Chartered Certified Accountant in 2018.Their joint mission is to ensure subcontractors are properly supported in running the commercial aspects of their business. Russ and I have recently launched the North East Office and have always had a burning desire to own and operate our own business. We primarily offer Quantity Surveying, Commercial Management and Dispute Resolution services to Sub-contractors.

What is the company’s USP?

With combined experience at senior levels in the construction industry, working for both main contractors and subcontractors we understand the commercial challenges facing the construction supply chain. It’s extremely difficult to run projects, maintain client relationships, whilst winning work, maximising income, managing cash flow and eventually making profits – we work with our clients to support them in doing this. We offer a flexible Quantity Surveying and Commercial Management service tailored to individual clients and their budgets bringing the benefits of our combined experience as a National Consultancy. In summary we do what we are good at, leaving Clients to concentrate on what they’re good at.

What changes have you seen in the Construction industry market during the Coronavirus pandemic?

It’s been a challenging few years for construction generally speaking, with the uncertainty around Brexit, Corona Virus, headline grabbing insolvencies and some high profile safety concerns. The industry has adapted and responded remarkably although inevitably we have seen a number of projects delayed and put on hold. However, construction has been one of the few industries to remain operational during the pandemic which is a credit to the industry’s resilience and importance. We are now cautiously optimistic as we have seen an influx of new projects and on a personal note we have added a number of new Clients recently. The Government is also supporting the recovery through investment as we look to regenerate the North East further with exciting developments in Newcastle City Centre and the regeneration scheme at Gateshead Quays. As part of the recent Spring Budget the Free Port status for Tees Valley will also provide a huge boost to the area over the next five years.

Tell us the most exciting thing you’re currently working on?

All the Projects and Clients we work with are exciting in their own way. One of the most exciting things we are working on currently is SubPort. This may seem like a clich√© although we share the vision with the founding directors to support Sub-contractors and make a real positive impact to the industry. The industry is heavily reliant on Sub-contractors and SME’s. Contractors are dependent upon the performance of the construction supply chain and we are providing them with vital services to allow continued and improved performance. We have a very diverse work load and we are supporting a number of small companies through massive growth, it’s great to see the progress almost on a weekly basis. It’s also inspiring to see some of our Clients working internationally where we are providing services for a project in Europe. Other exciting activities include working with a partner as part of a smartphone ‘app’ (further details will be available shortly).

Where do you see yourself in five years’ time?

Five years is a relatively long time particularly in the context of a new business although we have had a very positive start. We’d like to take this opportunity to thank all of our new and existing Clients along with all of the other people who have assisted and shown confidence in us. Our plan is to develop SubPort further echoing the performance of our Manchester Office to attract, train and develop quantity surveying staff at all levels, providing Sub-contractors and SME’s with the flexible service they require to succeed. We are on the path to becoming the ‘go to’ service for supporting Sub-contractors and want to develop the SubPort brand within the industry nationally.

What are your favourite Construction developments in the North East?

One of my personal favourites is Sage Gateshead, the Fosters and Partners icon set against what is for me the best city backdrop in the UK (although admittedly I’m biased). I also like Janet Nash House in Durham. It’s a contemporary building specifically designed for CEF, promoting communication and collaboration as well as focusing on the wellbeing agenda. The building is a physical expression of the components in the owners core product, the electrical cable – it’s very impressive and would be a great environment to work in. Russ was involved in one of the projects at the redevelopment of Durham Riverside and this area is one of his favourites. The completed and planned developments here will completely transform the riverside area. To add to this the impressive refurbishment of Middlesbrough Town Hall, where Russ was commercial lead, also deserves a special mention.

Who are your heroes and mentors?

There are so many inspiring people, I think social media and technology has made some truly amazing performers more accessible. On a personal note I’ve been very lucky to work with and for some excellent people in truly world class organisations. When not working, how do you like to relax?

We’re both into fitness. I like to relax in the Gym now that my football career is in its twilight and Russ is into Kettlebell Sport and Brazilian Jiu-jitsu. I’m also involved with Whickham Football Club, we have an exciting project there with some excellent people involved as we continue to make progress at the club. We’re also both really looking forward to being able to spend time with family and friends once the current restrictions are lifted.

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