Name: Gary Owens
Employer: Cowlin Construction
Project: Swansea University Student Accommodation Phase 2, Singleton Park, Swansea
Contract: JCT 1998
Gary Owens is a troubleshooter. When a project is in trouble or behind schedule, he’s the man parachuted in to find solutions and bring the job back on track. But with a tight site enclosed within a university, this project looked so difficult that Gary was booked in even before construction got under way.
As much as Gary is known for his problem-solving, he also has a knack for uncovering problems before they turn into crises. Here, he realised early on that he had to intervene decisively to prevent the slower than expected installation of the precast concrete panels demolishing the sacrosanct programme.
The target was to install seven panels a day, but the subcontractors were achieving only half that. With two accommodation blocks of 12 and six storeys to build, the impact of such poor productivity could clearly be disastrous.
Gary grasped the expensive nettle of bringing in an independent consultant to advise on how to ramp up production. So successful was the intervention that the installation rate shot up to 10 panels a day. Having been way behind (with Cowlin facing a thumping from hefty penalties), the panelling actually finished ahead of schedule.
And his willingness to implement lean construction for the first time had equally beneficial consequences. Lean involved a series of collaborative planning workshops, attended by the subcontractors, where expertise was shared to develop an optimum programme. A detailed tracking matrix was generated to allow simple and effective monitoring of project progress. It was so successful in delivering this high-quality project on time that Gary has pledged to use it on all his future projects.
Intelligent and committed, Gary is extremely well organised, well informed and well thought of. In this project, as in every other scheme he has worked on, he took everything that came at him, managing to turn negatives into positives. Since completing the project, he has been promoted to construction manager.