A recent addition to the Bewley Homes team, Peter Carpinelli has a long and successful career in the new homes industry, and here he tells us exclusively about the fascinating journey to his current position and what he loves about working in housebuilding today.
Please tell us a little about why you joined Bewley about yourself and what your new role entails.
When the opportunity to join Bewley presented itself earlier this year, I was always going to seize it without hesitation and delighted to join the company in May this year as development director. The Bewley vision, to build exceptional homes in the most desirable locations for our discerning customers whether they are upsizing, downsizing or on the first time homes together with a determination to provide an unyielding focus on our customer service with the results of this dedication reflected in a significant number of Industry awards and accolades was, simply put, an opportunity I couldn’t refuse.
As a business, Bewley has transformed in the past few years, going from a turnover of £20million just over five years ago, to a turnover of over £116million in the last financial year; the company made a targeted and conscious decision in reducing the average asking price of a home to £540,000 in 2017 (from over £800,000 three years ago) in line with market sentiment; and they have accomplished it all without compromising on either their meticulously high standards in construction or in the quality of design.
My remit as development director includes overseeing the direction of the construction and technical teams, as well as working alongside the land and planning teams to optimise land opportunities at the pre-planning stage. Essentially, I will be utilising many years of experience within the industry to fulfil the company’s progressive growth plans.
What do you enjoy most about your job?
Housebuilding is one of the few careers these days which still allows people to physically show what they have accomplished in their day-to-day working lives. The development of a site requires a huge diversity of skillset – from land acquisition, architectural design, commercial and procurement acumen to groundworkers and bricklayers and many, many more in between to come to fruition in a well-planned process. Without any one element, the development cannot be accomplished, therefore each and every person within the process has an important part to play and is responsible for what is created resulting in an immense sense of pride and accomplishment.
Can you tell us about your career path, from education to training, work experience and previous roles?
At the age of 14 one of my school teachers entered me into a competition to “Design a Home” for a national housebuilder who were developing in my home town of Swindon. I always had a natural talent for design and equally have always been extremely competitive. I won the competition for two years in a row and knew then, at that early age, what my chosen career would be. Indeed, the company who sponsored the competition employed me as the drawing office trainee soon after I left school at 16. That was a great foundation to my working life and allowed me to work my way up the ladder. Eventually, I became a design director and, ultimately, to managing director of several national housebuilders. My story is one which shows how people who are talented and passionate can progress in an industry which will welcome and promote them if they have the determination to work hard and desire to succeed.
You’ve held senior positions with a number of key players in the industry, what keeps you motivated and how do you motivate others?
This is a great industry, an interesting industry where a ‘work hard, play hard’ mentality still exist in healthy doses. It’s a well-paid career that will always reward and recognise talent. Equally, an industry which is willing to promote people from any background with little snobbery about whether you are degree qualified from a top university or a graduate from the ‘university of life’. If you have talent, desire, commitment and passion you will be rewarded and if you’re good enough, you’re old enough. I’m a great believer in by doing what you enjoy and love, you will inspire and awaken the hearts of those around you. The key, however, is never ever become complacent. We should all strive, be it as individuals, or collectively, to continually improve ourselves on the road to success. That road, however, is always under construction.
Are there any past mentors that have been especially inspiring?
I have had the privilege of working with some exceptional people over my 37 years in the industry. There are many who have been inspirational and great mentors. Equally, there have been those who have been less so. I truly believe you need to have experienced both the good and the not-so-good to form a sound basis from which to learn and grow. It shows as much how things should not be done as it does the best-practice solutions. Taking all the experiences, I hope I can inspire those I work with, positively challenge both me and them in order to rise higher and achieve our goals.
When you go onsite, are there jobs that you see being done that you find particularly admirable?
My main focus when I go onsite is to ensure we are fulfilling our obligation of keeping our workforce safe. It is widely accepted that the construction industry is one of the hardest and dangerous in which to work and health and safety is a primary objective both for me and for Bewley – we want to make sure each of our workers is kept safe and goes home safely to their families at the end of their working day. As an industry which is ever-evolving, challenging and exciting, I have a great admiration for every single person who braves differing extremes of temperature – from snowy winters to hot summers and comes to work onsite. Ultimately, the success of a development, and each individual new home we create, is dependent on the input and collective team effort and spirit of everyone who works there. There are a numerous and diverse set of skills required, each one vital to the overall success of the development and therefore equally admirable.
Are there ways that we can overcome the outdated image of our industry and attract more people into it?
Attracting people into the industry is absolutely essential and Bewley, alongside many other housebuilders, is currently working with the CITB and HBF to attract raw new talent into the industry. To do this successfully, we have to address the social preconceptions surrounding the industry, recognising that, to work in construction doesn’t simply mean to work onsite – although that is a very good place to start – but is all encompassing. You will be rewarded for your hard work and talent and individuals will find they can progress quickly. A great example of this is some of the apprentices who have come through the Bewley Apprentice Scheme. George Baird joined Bewley four years ago, he worked as an onsite apprentice, spent two years undertaking his qualifications whilst working ‘on the job’ and today is an assistant site manager. Last year, we had another four apprentices join the Bewley team and we are planning for a further four to join us this year.
It is not enough, however, to simply say we need more people to enter the industry – we also need to ensure we exceed the industry quality standards – something which we take great pride in at Bewley. The introduction in 2020 of the T-level courses which will be available to 16-year-olds and on a par with A-levels but for vocational subjects including construction, will not only help to set a standard but will also open the construction world up to the next generation.
What’s your advice to those considering or applying for a job in UK housebuilding right now?
The industry has never offered opportunities to people who do not have a certain element of enthusiasm, commitment and ambition behind them. There has to be a desire to learn – to work your way up, a willingness to work hard, empathy with the environment, immense pride in what you accomplish and the ambition to succeed. In return, there are great rewards and I would encourage anyone considering a career in housebuilding or thinking about entering an apprenticeship scheme to speak to us – we are always looking for hungry young talent and are committed to investing in youth and the future of the industry. Be inspired to try housebuilding, I was and I’m still loving it!