BAM’s Richard Pateman: Trades are still crucial
BAM’s Richard Pateman, who is calling it a day after a 45-year career, says his experience shows why apprenticeships and trades still have a place in construction.
When Richard Pateman hands over the new £22m Warner Stand at Lord’s cricket ground at the end of April, he won’t just be walking away from a site he’s spent running for the best part of two years. He’ll be hanging up his hard hat after 45 years in the industry.
Now 62, the BAM construction manager has decided it’s time to swap the hurly burly of running multi-million pound projects and a four-hour daily commute for the chance to see a bit more of the world and his wife and tackle the art of photography.
“If you have a trades background you have a fundamental understanding of the way things are put together.”
Richard Pateman, BAM
Pateman, by his own definition, is old school. “I come from a generation when more people came up through the trades route and I think that’s important to the industry. There are certainly some very clever young people working at BAM, but I think it’s good for the industry to have a mixture in management of people with different ages and experience.
“If you have a trades background you have a fundamental understanding of the way things are put together. There is a sequence to these things. If you do it right, you don’t have to revisit for defects and snagging. It’s like assembling a bit of furniture from IKEA – if you don’t follow the instructions, it doesn’t fit together,” he says.
He left school in West Sussex for an apprenticeship in bricklaying, becoming an assistant site manager with Tellings, which became part of Higgs & Hill and then subsequently BAM.
He’s built stadiums, hospitals, offices and restaurants, mostly in London and the South East. The highlights have been two new buildings for Great Ormond Street Hospital and the North Stand at Chelsea Football stadium because they were so technically challenging.
Pateman says he’d recommend a career in construction to anyone. “I’ll miss the people. Most are easygoing, though it can be quite volatile at times and tempers get frayed. You can have a blazing row one minute and then be friends again the next. If you can’t cope with that you probably shouldn’t be in the industry.”