By Michael Parinchy, Project Manager – Probuild360
Photo by Edwin Ladd
When your whole life, including your family, is built on the running of the family business;
When your work IS your leisure, because you love what you do and you live and breathe it 24/7;
When your very identity is a self-made image of you doing what you do best;
Then something changes that you have no power over, and the bottom line is “shut everything down”… well, at Probuild360, we just looked at each other, thinking, “what do they mean, stop?!”.
After the initial shock and the scary thoughts, wondering “is the end of the world as we know it?”, the Parinchy family convened to make a plan. Breaking things down into areas of consideration and handling each 1 at a time made the conversations more manageable and made for a very pragmatic approach to creating and implementing an action plan. So, there was a plan for HQ and the office staff/management, a plan for clients and public facing activities, a plan for site operation and construction phase activities, and a full-scale assessment of the business strategy.
The construction industry lockdown restrictions were not the tightest relative to leisure and hospitality for example. We were able to assess the critical works which would result in families left with nowhere to live, or having their homes exposed to the elements, and prioritise these projects, particularly to the point that they were made safe and secure.
However, these activities had to be gone about in a totally new way of working, with control measures and protocols that were newly developed, and that were more akin to those in the construction of security facilities or government buildings.
With office-based staff set-up to work from home and keep things ticking over, the next challenge presented itself in the supply-chain. In an already shaky landscape with questions in the air regarding post-Brexit arrangements, a lockdown like this was a body-blow to supply chains in all sectors. We felt it in the gypsum plaster products and glazing. So, we stocked up with pallets of plasterboards and multi-finish that would keep us going for a couple of months. But glazing is made to order, and handling and storage is much trickier.
Solution: we board up frames with OSB and explain to clients that their glazing is on order. Once again, the focus was making clients homes as safe and secure as possible until we ride out the storm and normal service is resumed.
The crucial element for Probuild360’s handling of the pandemic lockdowns of 2020, and the crazy events of this era in general, has been communication. Builders and construction industry professionals are not generally known as great communicators. Knowing this, we have made it a component of our business model to be clear and accurate with our presentation of the facts and figures of projects with our clients, suppliers, and professional partners.
This, we believe, has made the world of difference, allowing us as a family, and those we work with to know where we stand as much as possible, and to take control of whatever we can, in an environment where many things are uncontrollable. That is what has made our business and our clients able to cope.
There is however another factor that must be cited as a key factor in the family’s and the company’s strength in face of crisis. In 2020 the Chamber of Commerce commissioned market research, through Plimsol, into the construction industry, and specifically the financial health of construction companies. Probuild360 were identified as 812th strongest construction firm in the UK measured on that metric. With over 325,000 firms active that puts the company in the top 0.002% of the top.
The Parinchy’s attribute this to a financial culture that is in direct opposition to the traditional SME builder. Not taking money out of the company, focusing on growth, paying suppliers and taxes in full on time, no borrowings etc. This has brought the company and the family great strength
Now, riding out the storm is one thing, but that’s not the Parinchy modus operandi. Never the type to sit still new concepts began to form, ideas were flowing, and these were distilled and crystallised into real world products, services, systems and processes.
“We developed the Probuild360 Thought Leadership Project to allow homeowners and property developers to continue to engage and interact in meaningful ways with us and our delivery partners.
We launched GardenSpace360, an MMC-led service constructing garden room annexes for leisure or workspace, as a direct response to the changing culture of more home-centric lifestyles. And we totally rebuilt our entire client journey including the systems and processes on which that journey is built.”
The family was once in high-end fashion retail. Then too, the business faced challenges from forces on a global scale that were seemingly insurmountable – 2008 sub-prime mortgage crash leading to global markets being hollowed out, the rise of e-commerce as a direct threat to the high-street.
“We overcame that, and we will overcome this. In fact, this challenge plays to our favour, as we can give people the homes that provide them with the freedom and lifestyle that they need to live in this Brave New World.”
And the design-led creative process from the old days is very much alive. “More and more the construction of homes is about cutting-edge design; as technology and construction-methods advance a world of possibilities are available to us and our clients, and we intend to make full use of all this.”