FOR the past thirty-six years, Paul Dodsworth has played a key role in numerous major construction projects across the North-East.

Beginning his career as an apprentice bricklayer, he enrolled on a management training programme that provided a foundation to work his way up the ladder, taking on roles including general foreman, site manager project manager and contracts manager at Mansell Construction.

Prior to joining Wates, Mr Dodsworth spent eight years as construction director at Bowmer & Kirkland, overseeing projects in the North-East and Scotland, including the Trinity Square mixed-use development in Gateshead. Mr Dodsworth joined Wates in 2015, with a brief to grow the company’s presence in the North East and to build upon an already impressive portfolio of projects across Yorkshire.

Three years into his role at Wates, the County Durham native is now responsible for a £100 m business, and a team of over a hundred staff, delivering commercial and public sector projects across the North East and Yorkshire.

Wates is currently delivering Teesside University’s £22.3m National Horizons Centre, which is designed to develop the technical, innovation and management skills and knowledge needed for the biosciences sector to continue to grow and generate jobs and wealth in Tees Valley and the UK. The contractor also recently handed over Select Property Group’s Strawberry Place development at St James’ Park, and led the build of Newcastle High School for Girls, which received the Lord Mayor’s Design Award for architecture and environmental design earlier this year. Wates has also secured places on the NEPO and Scape Major Works - UK frameworks which will provide further opportunities in the North East.

It was also recently announced that Wates is relocating its North East office from Darlington to Belmont Business Park in Durham, a move that reflects Mr Dodsworth’s optimism for the future of the region.

“One of the key drivers behind our move is providing an efficient, well connected and accessible service at what we consider to be the real geographical heart of the North East,” said Mr Dodsworth. “This will allow us to provide a better service to existing clients, while also being ready to serve the new opportunities the market has to offer.”

The office move comes at a time of uncertainty for the local construction industry, with CITB’s Construction Skills Network report, published in January, revealing that the North East was the only region in the UK where construction output had not risen over the preceding twelve months.

“The North East market isn’t as buoyant as we would like and it's understandable that there is some reluctance from investors and developers to bring forward large scale projects. It’s our job as contractors to help unlock opportunity and prove these predictions wrong, and to demonstrate that we are able to realise the bold visions of developers, and we can do so on time and to budget.

“I am already seeing confidence growing as we travel on the road towards greater economic certainty. We will then be on hand to help lead a resurgence across the market. We have an excellent supply chain across the North East, and we will continue to forge ever closer partnerships with the region’s suppliers and subcontractors.”

Mr Dodsworth’s faith in his region was recently furthered by a return to his old school, Spennymoor Comprehensive, now Whitworth Park School and Sixth Form College, to speak to current students about his career, and to demonstrate the value of working in the construction industry.

“Returning my old school was a real treat. We work hard to ensure our projects generate benefits for communities and the economy, and this was a great opportunity to promote our industry, and the opportunities it affords, to the next generation. The pupils I met left me in no doubt that the future is bright for the North-East.”

FIVE minutes with...Paul Dodsworth, Business Unit Director for Wates Construction North East & Yorkshire:

Favourite North-East building and why?

Durham Cathedral continues to amaze me. As a builder, I often ponder how they managed to build something so fantastic, so large and so ornate without the specialist equipment we have today.

What was your first job and how much did you get paid?

My first job was an apprentice bricklayer, way back in 1982 - when Olivia Newton John was getting physical and Human League didn’t want me. I still have my first wage slip; I received the princely sum of £2.04p per hour!

What is the worst job you've had?

A recession hit during my time as an apprentice bricklayer and the lack of work led to me being given the lovely task of insulating lofts. Not a pleasant job; it still makes me feel itchy thinking about it today.

What would you cook for me if I came around for dinner?

I must confess to having limited culinary skills. My marquee meal would be a curry but give me a barbecue and I will show you what burnt looks like.

What would your superpower be?

I wish I could fly. As a man who travels in excess of 30,000 business miles a year, alleviating the pain of road works and delays along with the free time it would generate, being able to fly would indeed be a super power worthy of having.

Name four people, dead or alive, who would be at your perfect dinner party.

An easy question this. 1) Will I Am, because he makes me laugh. 2) Winston Churchill, because he’s an amazing character who has shaped the world we live in. 3) Catherine Zeta Jones for some glamour. 4) Jesus, because we would never run out of wine.

Most expensive thing you've bought - other than car or house - and how much?

My answer depends on if my wife will read this! I have a real passion for watches and have a number of quite expensive timepieces – but this my wife knows about. I am also an avid clay pigeon shooter and have spent in excess of £10,000 on a gun. My wife knows I bought a gun but she is oblivious as to the real cost of this must-have item!

Who is the best person to follow on Twitter and why?

Donald Trump - just to keep a handle on how bizarre he really is.

Favourite book?

Soldier Spy by Tom Marcus

When did you last cry?

Tears of sadness - when I lost my lovely Labrador last year. Tears of joy - at my daughter’s recent prom; looking at this gorgeous young lady before me whom masquerades as my daughter and suddenly appreciating how spectacularly she has grown up. (Although this was tinged slightly with how blooming much the whole event cost me!)

What is your greatest achievement?

As a father to five, my family has to be my greatest achievement. They are all so different yet all so special.

What's the best piece of advice in business you've ever been given?

Work smart, work hard, keep focused, reflect, review, adapt. (My dad)

Favourite animal and why?

I am a dog lover, with two working spaniels - and I love my dogs for only ever wanting to please me and never giving me any back chat!

Most famous person on your mobile phone.

MP for Durham, Roberta Blackman Woods.

What was the last band you saw live?

UB40 at Chester le Street cricket ground.

Describe your perfect night in.

Every Sunday afternoon when our family visit with their partners and we spend some quality time together - reviewing the last seven days and forecasting the week ahead.

In another life I would be...

A politician who would provide straight answers to straight questions.

Who would play you in a film of your life?

I’d like say someone like Sylvester Stallone but I’m 5 ft 6 so it’s more likely to be Danny DeVito!

What irritates you?

People that want to want to waste my time.

What's your secret talent?

Coping with only 5 hours sleep a night.