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Find out about someone who is still "WALKING THE WALK" - not "WALKING THE TALK" as most Consultants do?

This is a short biography of a long complicated working life as a Civil Engineer, Entrepreneur and Feasibility Study Expert on some of the biggest and most complex projects in the world.

These included Feasibility Studies and Master Planning of aluminium smelters, gas based industrial estates and major oil fields.

I also managed to fit in the setting up of four successful construction based businesses - one went spectacularly bust after 6 years life and the other three are still operating today.

And I am still operating as an International Swimming Pool Consultant

Bluepools Inc based in Nevada is currently designing and managing major pool projects on properties valued up to $50m in Hollywood in Los Angelese as well as the coastal towns in California including Santa Barbara.

We are currently undertaking the design and project management of 3 luxury pools on the top of the hill at the back of Santa Barbara. These pools all have infinity edges looking out over the bay and are part three new thirty million dollar homes. We also have a major pool project underway for a film director with a large lot in Malibu.

For information on this please look at www.bluepools.com

Bluepools Ltd operating out of the UK and France provides swimming pool design and project management services across Europe. However this market is completely moribund and likely to stay that way for a long time!

For information on this please look at www.bluepools.co.uk

Civil Engineering Graduate from Sheffield University

I was one of the many very successful graduates produced by the Sheffield University Faculty of Civil and Structural Engineering that was run by the mercurial Professor Bill Eastwood.

His enthusiastic and highly logical approach to engineering problems was transmitted to his students and has inspired many of us to reach very prominent positions in the UK construction industry and the universities.

Good Honours Degree and then out on site for experience

I managed to get a good honors degree and went straight out on site to learn about how things were really built - I could not get there fast enough!

During the second half of those first 3 years on site I had total control of both the Design` and Construction of a 10.0 million euro (current value) manufacturing project - we were given lots of responsibility at a very tender age in those days!

3 Years on Site and then in the Design Office

After 3 years in muddy boots it was time to see what design work was all about.

After 3 years in an office I became a Member of the Institution of Civil Engineers (MICE) that signifies Chartered Engineer status in the UK and am still a member now.

I also found the time to pass the Institute of Structural Engineers Examinations at first try and was a member for about 30 years.

The Office Technical Guru at 30

I spent several years in different jobs as a Senior Engineer with companies involved in the offshore oil exploration and the onshore refinery and petro-chemical industry.

I then joined a port and harbour works civil engineering consultancy in London.

The firm was run a couple of pretty average engineers and so at the ripe old age of 30 I became the office guru on technical matters and found to my surprise that I had a real flair for understanding and simplifying very complex issues.

I did my first, of the 100's of feasibility studies that I have now carried out, during this period.

Setting up Robert West Consulting

I left to set up a similar business as a partner of Bob West. He was good at getting the work - and I was pretty good at doing it.

This was when I started to use computers in engineering analysis in a big way for the first time. During the 1980's I was one of the very first Civil Engineers to really understand how much benefit the profession could get from these new machines.

The firm was very successful and we did lots of master planning and feasibility studies on port and harbour and infrastructure projects and also built quite a few as "the Engineer".

Many of these projects like the West Bank container terminal at Ipswich Port are still in operation. They included the infrastructure for the Lakeside shopping centre and the adjacent retail warehouse complex on the old Tunnel Cement works site in Thurrock.

You may recall seing the time and temperature on a large concrete tower alongside the northern M25 approach to the Dartford Crossing - I designed this as well.

Robert West Consulting is also still in business today. See www.robertwest.co.uk It's a pretty mundane consultancy business - but it is still there!

Setting up a new type of UK business called Pentacon

After 7 years I became frustrated with working with Bob and the conventional consultants role and set up a design and construction business called Pentacon.

I was the majority shareholder with 3 junior co-directors. I had total control of this business and quickly developed a very informal, very efficient, focused organisation that built all its projects to time and budget.

I also started to develop my expertise in the use of spreadsheets in the preparation of Cost Estimates on large complicated projects.

Large projects for major blue chip Clients

We did studies, design and construction of work to a total value of approximately £60.0m between for a variety of major blue chip clients.

This included Yours Truly being "The Engineer" for the infrastructure of the new town of Chafford Hundred in West Thurrock, Essex.

This project was very involved and complex. It involved Feasibility Studies and Master Planning of major earthworks in worked out chalk quarries, roads, drains, utility services, railway station, schools and shops, on 5000 hectares of abandoned quarry land for a new suburb of 10,000 people. This was all undertaken over a 5 year period in close conjunction with Thurrock Borough Council.

All the housing has now been built and occupied and it is now a thriving community. Just type Chafford Hundred into Google and you will see just how successfully this project changed an ugly brownfield site in one of the most desirable places to live in the UK.

Needless to say I like to think that a lot of the success can be attributed to my Engineering Skills!

It is also interesting that I can distinctly remember the meeting when it was agreed that the new project would be called Chafford Hundred. I would like to claim credit for thinking of the name but it was originally proposed by Don Sharman - a senior manager in RTZ that owned a large proportion of the land on which Chafford Hundred is built.

Pentacon also designed / built housing, offices, warehouses and industrial units for a large variety of developer, retailer and manufacturing clients such as Texas Homecare, Maplins Electronics, Pelham Homes of the Rosehaugh group, Blue Circle Industries and the Pearson Group during this period.

Pentacon and the Credit Squeeze

We also undertook property development and this eventually caused the firm to go bust. Pentacon ceased trading in September 1990 when it became a victim of the severe credit squeeze that was imposed by the UK government.

We developed the Palmerston Business Park in Fareham, Hampshire. In Spring 1990 it was valued at $20m and 6 months later $10m - and the bank pulled the plugand then sold it all on at a massive profit - I have never trusted banks since!

This was my first setback and it was a big one! I had given personal guarantees to the banks and I was eventually forced into personal bankruptcy in 1992. I got divorced at the same time - what a year!

Learning how to drive a digger!

The Pentacon bankruptcy occured during the big construction recession of the 1990's and so to keep the "Wolf from the Door" - I bought myself some tools and started building house extensions and garages etc - and taught myself to do all the building trades.

I enjoyed the work - but not working outside in the UK winter!

The most useful experience that I had during this period was to learn to drive most types of construction plant - including large tracked 360 degree excavators.

Ever since then the preparation of Estimates for heavy civil engineering jobs has become a breeze - simply because I know exactly how to identify the plant required and how long the work shoud take.

Working as a consultant to KBR

In the mid 1990's the construction industry started to pick up again and so I abandoned the builder's tools and the digger and started to work as a consultant to Kellog Brown and Root (KBR) - back in the oil and gas business that I had worked in during my 20's.

Biggest projects in the world

Working at KBR turned into a fantastic opportunity and for 10 years I was involved with some of the biggest projects in the world including:-

Ability to think "Outside the Box"

At KBR I always tended to be involved in the master planning and feasibility study stages because of my wide experience, statistical analytical ability, enthusiasm and inclination to think "Outside of the Box" .

During this period I spent a lot of time overseas in some pretty inhospitable places like Kazakhstan and Siberia! As a consequence I had a lot of spare time on my hands and it was during this period that I first started to develop the software that you can see for sale on this website.

CeeVeX NPV Software RoiVeX ROI Software

You can read a lot more about this software and how they calculate the project NPV's and ROI elsewhere on this website.

Last Project for KBR in 2005

Eventually I became a bit jaded from the perpetual travelling with KBR and did my last project for them in 2005.

I had moved to France a couple of years before this and so decided to throw myself into a new business in France - I know - I know ! - only a crazy man would try to start a business over there!

The Bluepools Swimming Pool Business

Well we had a fairly easy ride for a couple of years - and then the recession hit in 2007 - we went from a workload of 20 pools per year down to about 3 between 2007 and 2009.

Eventually Bluepools SARL had to cease trading and we reluctantly closed it down in 2009

But the Bluepools brand lives on and we are still building pools in various countries using our London based service company that does the design and project management.

See www.bluepools.co.uk

Bluepools in the United States

As they say "True Entrepreneurs never Stop" and in the spirit of this approach to life and work in general I am now developing the business of Bluepools Inc that was initially set up in Nevada.

With my US partner - Derek Miller we designed about 20 pools in 2011-2012. However the pool market in Las Vegas is as bad as it is in Europe and so we have now expanded our operations into the coastal areas of Los Angeles as well as Hollywood and Beverly Hills.

We did the groudnwork in 2012 and started to pick up business in Los Angeles late 2012. We have now been commissioned to do about 12 pools already in 2013 and so we are on the way to hit our planned target to design 50 pools in 2013!!

See www.bluepools.com

I will keep you posted on the success of this latest venture as it developes


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Best Regards

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