Hosted by former BBC Business Reporter Declan Curry, Spotlight is a series of interviews with exclusively selected businesses, with particular interest in the innovation in their story.
Reds10 was hand-picked by the series producers to represent the construction sector in the current series, focused on 'Best in business'. Declan Curry interviewed Paul Ruddick, Reds10 Chairman and Founder, covering topics such as:
Watch the full video below:
Declan Curry: Hello, I'm Declan Curry. Do you want to know what makes our business leaders tick? Well, you've come to the right place. This is Spotlight.
The construction industry is innovating constantly, addressing the nation's challenges. We need more affordable homes with greater energy efficiency. We need them quickly and sustainably. But the construction industry has a growing shortage of skilled labour. According to the Chartered Institute of Building, not enough young people are joining the industry to replace older workers who have retired or are close to retirement. The impact of this is pretty clear. Knowledge and skills are being lost just at the time when we need them most. Organisations are tackling these challenges head on by designing and delivering sustainable buildings and attracting younger skilled workers. Organisations that include Reds10, a leading modular construction business. Paul Ruddick is its chairman and its founder. He's with me now. Paul, welcome to Spotlight. Tell me a bit about the business, what it does.
Paul Ruddick: Reds10 is a contractor, but we're a slightly different type of contractor in that we've got our own factory. Construction hasn't changed in the last 50 years, maybe 100 years, in terms of how we build. But technology has moved on in terms of how we put it together. And offsite construction offers a way to build buildings with 50% less labour.
Declan Curry: How radical is this?
Paul Ruddick: We’ve been building offsite since the 1950s. What is different is the net zero agenda, but also technology. So technology with a new kind of cloud computing, we design the design in the cloud now is enabled us to do a lot more design before we start on site. So that's only happened in the last 4 or 5 years. So what tended to happen with offsite construction is you'd build an empty module, you'll take it to site and then you'll clad the module, and then you'll put the plumbing and the electrics in. With cloud computing and new technology and new programs, we're enabled to do that all in the factory.
Declan Curry: On your mission statement, you talk about helping everyone ‘live, learn and thrive in amazing spaces’. Flesh that out for me. In practical terms, what does that look and feel like?
Paul Ruddick: It’s as much an internal message as an external message to the team. You know, we don't want to be a traditional construction company. We want people to come to our company and think they're creating amazing spaces. We're creating a space where someone's going to live, they're going to work, they're going to thrive in that space. And we need to understand that.
Declan Curry: Innovation, of course, vital to any business. Where's your innovation? How is your company adapting?
Paul Ruddick: I think at first you've got to start at the product. So we don't talk about having buildings time. We have having products and we've got certain types of products, whether it's a school, whether it's an accommodation block, whether it's a prison space, and there's that continual drive to improve the product. You know, how can we improve it, how can we get better? And that's our focus. I always think about if you think about the iPhone, for example, they continually improve the iPhone. It's still the iPhone, but actually we're an iPhone 15 now or 16. That's how we see our building and our processes. We want our products to continually improve.
Declan Curry: What could you tell me about your smart building technology and how that generates innovation within the business?
Paul Ruddick: Everyone talks about net zero buildings at the moment and a lot of people focus on net zero and to reduce the embodied carbon and build it. What not many people talk about is how that building is going to run in terms of operational carbon. You know, when you walk out the room will the lights all switch off or will the heating switch off or the air conditioning switch off? And when we look around the marketplace, there wasn't a package available. And what the kit does, it basically it's an intelligent building. So it basically starts to understand what's happening in the building and then it starts to understand what's happening externally. Is it hot or is it cold outside? If you think about a lot of buildings, it might be baking hot outside, but the air conditioning is still on or it might be freezing cold or whatever it is. So we're trying to develop a system - an AI building control system that basically reduces energy usage in the building. And this will become huge in the next five, ten years. And we're just kind of at the forefront of it.
Declan Curry: Let’s talk about what sets you apart. What are the main aspects that you'd identify?
Paul Ruddick: I think the main thing that we do different from other competitors in the marketplace is that we bring everything in-house. So we have a huge design department. We have a huge technical department, we have our own site teams, we have our own installation teams and actually we have our own factory as well.
Declan Curry: You emphasise design, which of course demands a whole different set of skills from traditional construction. Is that helping you attract that younger workforce, that construction needs? Is that a point of difference, a point of success for you?
Paul Ruddick: Yes it's a big, big point of difference for us because we recognise to get people into the industry, we need to kind of flick a switch on them and a lot of them have this really poor image of construction with traditional biblical skills. So when we go out and we do our outreach, we show the package, we use a 3D modelling, which they're all using at home. You know, I've got daughters use programs called Roblox. You know, they're ten years old and it's actually a construction program. And actually when I look at it, it's not too dissimilar to what we're doing, but no one's actually going out there and telling them this is what we're doing within our industry. And as a result of that, we've got a huge influx of. Youngsters coming into the business who want to get into design, into logistics, which I don't think we would have reached before.
Declan Curry: Paul, looking at the success of your business, your own journey as a business leader, what are the most important things you've learned? What's the best advice you can pass on?
Paul Ruddick: I think the first one I would say get close to your client. But then before you do that, establish what clients you want and really understand your client. I think too many companies don't listen to the client and kind of build stuff or do stuff to suit themselves. So get close to the client, understand the client. I think the other key thing I would say is embrace technology. It's here. It's an instigator for change. It's an opportunity. Embrace it and make sure that all systems are technology-led.
Declan Curry: Paul Ruddick, thank you for sharing your thoughts with us and thank you for joining us on Spotlight.