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Rest in Peace, Roger Knowles – 1937 – 2022

Roger was an excellent man to work with who created an industry of dispute resolution with his professional skill and entrepreneurial nature. He will be sadly missed by the staff who worked with him over the years who all will remember his incredible work ethic, good humour and kindness.

David Price, Partner, HKA

HKA is saddened to hear of the passing of Roger Knowles, a construction industry trailblazer with an entrepreneurial spirit and a kind and empathic nature.

He is survived by his wife, Wendy and daughter, Beverley.

Roger was born in Warrington in 1937. It was clear from a young age he would achieve great things in his life. He was an accomplished sportsman, playing semi-professional football for Winsford United in the Cheshire County League and also enjoyed bowling at a good amateur level for Northwich Cricket Club.

He began his professional career for a Chartered Quantity Surveying business, L C Wakeman and Partners. He worked there for 19 years, qualified as a Chartered Quantity Surveyor and eventually became the office manager for their Liverpool branch. He set his aims even higher in 1968, where he embarked on training to become a barrister. He was called to the Bar in 1971 and was a member of Lincolns Inn. This dual qualification of construction and law gave him the launch pad for his own business which he called James R Knowles in 1973.

From the outset his services were in high demand, and he lectured extensively on construction contracts and legal issues throughout the UK between 1974 and 1982 to deliver countless seminars in partnership with the training provider, Shaws Linton. Roger was a great publicist of his business and wrote the legal column in the Chartered Quantity Surveyor magazine for many years.

His business grew rapidly throughout the 1980s and 1990s with a growing client base and excellent professional reputation which meant James R Knowles was able to open a network of UK offices and also expand overseas opening offices in Europe, Middle East, Far East and North America.

Knowles, as it became known, was eventually floated on the AIM market in 1998 and eight years later his business, which began in 1973, was bought in 2006 by the US construction consulting firm Hill International, which in 2017 became HKA following a management buy-out. When Roger sold the business to Hill International, he was very proud of the fact that he built up a business of 14 UK offices and 13 overseas offices and had grown it into a £30 million turnover business.

Those who knew Roger would no doubt attribute his success to his admirable personal qualities. He was a true professional, who took pride in high-quality work. His entrepreneurial eye made him an excellent businessman, where his supportive, empathic, and generous nature made him a pleasure to do business with and work for. He was very supportive of his staff and the loyalty shown by the staff was testament to the way he managed the business.

His work ethic set an example for those around him, and he knew the importance of leading from the front. He was also a passionate ‘wordsmith’ who loved writing articles and books and understood the importance of effective communication and the power of language.

HKA is proud to be part of the lasting legacy of Roger Knowles, a true pioneering entrepreneur, and we hope we can continue to honour that legacy in the business that he helped shape.

Rest in peace, Roger.