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buildersbreakfast


THIS IMAGE Ickenham Park, Middlesex


BELOWThe Mooring at Ratho, Edinburgh


It is typical of Brown’s management style that he should both know about such anecdotes and praise the initiative shown. “In the bad times you learn how to sell, but it is


We are very lucky to have created a culture where everybody feels able to contribute and as a result is proud of what we are achieving.” When the industry went into meltdown three years


ago some companies buried their heads, while others stuck them above the parapet. CALA was one of the brave ones, increasing marketing spend, investing in training and pushing the brand to gain market share. One of the first things Brown did on taking the top


job was put his regional managing directors on the operational board and take them on an ‘away day’ to Tillmouth Park in Northumberland. “We sat down, broke down the business and discussed how ideally we would rebuild and how best we would work together,” said Brown. He introduced a ‘challenge-ometer’, measuring the


scale of the tasks ahead. “A seven or eight was good and a tough, but exciting, challenge. Ten and you


32| July 2011 showhouse


would explode, while zero meant you could do it asleep.We talked about vision and where we were going and agreed it was about empowerment and a bottom up culture.We don’t have ‘yes men’ at CALA.” It was while chairing various meetings among his


staff that Brown detected “dynamism and ideas bubbling underneath.” “There was this sense that there were so many people who could contribute in so many ways to making the business better. It is a priceless commodity to tap into.” It runs from the boardroom to the building site. Brown tells the story of one site manager who, off his own bat, introduced the ‘naughty room.’ “This was where he sent people if there had been a healthy and safety issue. The room had no tea and no papers; just books and pictures of accidents, showing the person what could happen.”


so important to evolve and constantly challenge everything you do no matter the state of play, but without being too bureaucratic because that stifles flair.” “Design is very important to us and is driven by extensive customer research. Styles and preferences vary from site to site, with no standard house types. We give our regions autonomy and the freedom to be imaginative and bold, but always underpinned by quality design values and central controls.” Brown trained as a quantity surveyor with Ideal Homes, before joining CALA in 1986 as a development manager for CALA Homes (South). He became managing director of Midlands in 1995, before being appointed to the Executive Board in 2006 and then, as regional chairman for England, the Group Board the following year. In 2008 Brown became managing director for CALA Homes across the UK, before being appointed chief executive two years ago. Downtime includes family holidays in Spain, rounds


of golf and following his beloved Newcastle United, although flights to and from Edinburgh, Birmingham and London, leave little time these days to stop off at St James’s Park. If he let his heart rule his head, Brown would have


his football hero Alan Shearer on the CALA board. If he suggested that to Parry over breakfast, their kitchen would be pebble-dashed with cornflakes, although with a cottage on Scotland’s golf coast, Parry has recently taken up golf. Expect a cough and an “about those sales figures Sue,” as she stands over the ‘winning’ putt. Five star company. Five star people.


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