RE:Defining supply chain relationships!

Last week we co-hosted the RE:GEN Super Sub Event with RE:geon Training, an event we’ve been gearing up for some time now in another bid to challenge the norm and do things differently within our industry. 

The SUPER-SUB event was an idea born between ourselves and RE:geon, focussed around inviting subcontractors and suppliers from all over the region to come together for one morning, to share in their challenges and explore in the opportunities we can provide to one another.

Sub-contractors make up a large proportion of our business and our passion has always been to look after those who serve us. By continually delivering on our promises, we have secured over £100m worth of work to deliver over the next 4 years from a range of our key clients. These include Gentoo, believe housing, Karbon Homes, Byker Community Trust, Thirteen Group and Bernicia. Whilst this is a fantastic achievement for us, more importantly this presents some INCREDIBLE opportunities and longevity of work for subcontractors throughout the North East keen to get involved and be part of our rapidly evolving journey.

We had a few key drivers for facilitating this event, but our main objective was to get under the skin of the key challenges faced within the industry, as well as uncover what the ‘perfect partner’ looks like to a variety of different businesses. 

So, what did we discover?

First and foremost, the turnout for the SUPER SUB was fantastic, with over 100 attendees representing 79 businesses within the region in attendance. Far exceeding our expectations for the first event of its kind. The sheer optimism and enthusiasm in the room from our attendees really shone through. Testament to the fact that with an engaged supply chain underpinning your operations, you really do yield greater results.

We kicked off the morning with open networking to allow everyone to become accustomed. Making new friends or catching up with old ones, it was a warm and welcoming setting to lead us nicely into the next part of our agenda. Around the room were 3 large posters with key questions posed. We asked each attendee to take some time to write down a response to each of the topics on post-it notes provided. This would serve as a narrative for a Q&A session scheduled for later in the morning:

1 – What challenges are you currently facing 

2 – What do you expect from a partner 

3 – Innovation & Ideas

We then progressed to the main presentation. Led by our Chairman, Brin Sheridan, and followed by Partnership Director Brinsley Sheridan, CEO Lee Francis and MD of RE:geon Nadia Scott, we walked the room through our journey to date. From key achievements to our attitude and approach to the Decarbonisation agenda and our upcoming pipeline, we set the scene for what is going to be a pretty transformational journey ahead.

A key area of discussion during the session was explored by Brinsley Sheridan, seeking to identify how we can break down the barriers of traditional contractor/subcontractor relations. In pursuit of more efficient, and more meaningful working relationships. At RE:GEN we aren’t contractual by any sense of the word – we’re easy and straightforward to do business with. Why? Because We Care. We Care about you as stakeholders of our business. We Care about you and your People. We Care about your P&Ls and We Care about your business objectives. Our subcontractors are an extension of our family and like any family, we stop at nothing to support them.

So how can we break down the barriers?

When asked what our attendees expect from a partner, the responses were overwhelmingly clear. Subcontractors seeks 3 things: Trust, Loyalty and Communication.   

Three things that any relationship, be it personal or professional needs to work. But 3 things that are incredibly overlooked, particularly within our sector. At RE:GEN we are already striving to champion change, by addressing these 3 key areas to redefine the dynamic between a contractor and their supply chain. Here is what we promise to do:

  • Trust: We invest a lot of our time in getting to know our supply chain and the SUPER SUB is just one example of this. By taking the time to understand you, we can identify common goals and drivers. Building mutually beneficial relationships that tap into these drivers. Through us both delivering on our promises and commitment to one another, we build trust. We are big advocates in banishing the blame culture. Both internally and externally. With the aim of promoting a positive attitude towards problem solving. No one is perfect, and mistakes will happen, but we trust in our supply chain to notify us at the earliest opportunity and support us in dealing with any issues in the right way.
  • Loyalty: With trust, comes loyalty. Once we have a supplier we can trust, the longevity and continuity of work flows in abundance, along with increased visibility of our pipeline. As a supplier to the Group, you won’t sit on an approved database unutilised. Every supplier we partner with is actively engaged in opportunities because we are loyal to those who work hard to deliver high quality solutions and exceptional customer service. With trust and loyalty also comes flexibility – and we are willing to adapt (where relevant) to the needs of our partners, particularly when it comes to taboo topics like payment terms.
  • Communication – One of the greatest hurdles we must overcome as an industry is communication. We are passionate about cultivating a safe and inclusive environment for two-way dialogue to take place. Both within internally amongst our teams and externally between ourselves and supply chain networks. As an organisation, we have committed to launching a new “Suppliers Forum” to enable us to meet regularly with our suppliers “off-site” to share feedback, key learnings, flag issues, as well as creating space to celebrate what we are doing right as a partnership. It’s very easy to focus on the negatives but we want to instil a positive supply chain culture with a strong emphasis on our collaborative efforts.

What do we ask for in return?

It’s simple. To make a difference to the lives and communities we serve, all we ask for is:

  • Great delivery
  • Robust Health & Safety
  • Communication at all levels
  • Honest Feedback / KPI’s
  • Collaboration on all fronts – work with us not against us
  • Proactive, ‘can do’ approach
  • Competitive prices

How can we collaborate?

To really challenge the norm, we believe that collaboration between a contractor and subcontractor should exceed far beyond a specific job or project scope. If we are truly ‘in the boat’ together, then there’s many different areas we can collaborate on to be successful. For example, greater use of technology and improved training methods.

When reviewing the responses for the challenges subcontractors currently face, it was evident that every business in the room, no matter the trade or specialism, is struggling with skills gaps and attracting new people into the business. Some  70% of the entries stated that their biggest pain points were recruitment and training, finding the right people and partnering with the right training provider.

Our closing segment of the presentation came from Nadia, and dovetailed into these areas perfectly. Nadia’s focus was centred around RE:geon Training’s business model to “Plug Skills Gaps” and RE:imagine future workforces through the provision of Retrofit training and Green Skills Bootcamps.  

What makes RE:geon different is their approach to training. Alongside sharing a passion for people, and unlike any other training company we’ve come across before, RE:geon take an ‘Employer-led’ approach to the delivery of their programmes. This means that as an employer, you are involved in the design and delivery of the course from day one to ensure it fits in seamlessly with your business goals and growth strategy. With the allocation of 35 hours of the programme, you can work on devising bespoke modules that tune into specific areas of focus. For our latest cohort, we created modules specific to RE:GEN’s brand culture, vision, mission and values. This level of personalisation has yielded some fantastic results which we were proud to share with the room:

  • 67% Progression to FTE Year 1
  • 80% Progression to FTE Year 2
  • 100% Sustained Progression

Through the recent securing of funding streams, including New College Durham and NELEP, RE:geon Training are proud to deliver a new 90-100% funded Route 2 Retrofit Skills Bootcamp. Retrofit training can be expensive so to know this can be partially, or in some cases fully funded is an incredible achievement and something to seriously snap up!    

RE:geon’s Route 2 Retrofit is specifically designed for individuals 19+ who are “work ready” (be it employed or currently unemployed) and who would benefit from higher level learning in new areas such as Construction Green skills. Taking their career up a notch and filling employer skills gaps. This programme includes a Level 2 Retrofit Qualification along with stacks of added value – using key insights and learnings from our journey that we hope will inform yours.  

As a Group, we are in the process of developing a full Green skills menu with RE:geon to further support the decarbonisation drive. Something supply chain MUST come onboard with if we’re to make a real difference.

The presentations during the SUPER SUB came to a close to allow for further Q&As and a final networking slot. The feedback during our last hour was phenomenal. To be told that we have tuned into what’s really going on within the industry, uncovering the pain points and most importantly sharing ideas and solutions that can alleviate the pressure was the main aim of the event, and it’s fair to say we achieved exactly that. We’ve already received an influx of requests to join our subcontractor network, and for Green Skills training to take place via RE:geon.

Our aspirations for the SUPER-SUB are to create an events roadshow covering multiple areas and locations across the North East. We are delighted to say that following the success of our first event, a second is likely to launch in the not-too-distant future!

We are incredibly grateful and proud of the confidence shown from all of our client partners (believe, Gentoo, Karbon, BCT, Thirteen and Bernicia), which has secured us some fantastic long-term frameworks. Being trusted in this way to deliver on our promises is enabling us to work closer with, and offer increased stability and opportunity to our supply chain. With a visible pipeline of profitable work, and the commitment to a safer, more sustainable future for all.

We are in the process of arranging 1-2-1 sessions with businesses keen to join our supply chain “family”, so we encourage any subcontractor or supplier (whether present at the SUPER SUB or not) to contact to find out more about the opportunities we have available, and what support can be provided.

To supply chain, new and old, we thank you for doing your bit to #BePartOfTheJourney