5 January 2022

Innovator Insights: Roger Eke, Tarmac

Roger Eke, Tarmac’s Technical Product Manager – South East, highlights the importance of accelerating progress in the area of sustainability during a chat with Local Council Roads Innovation Group (LCRIG) Content Director Alec Peachey.


Q. What work experience did you have before moving into highways?

A. “c20 years in commercial roles, the last 10 years working in the construction industry focusing on materials production and delivery.”


Q. What has been your career highlight up to now?

A. “Multiple, but I always feel a sense of pride watching the travelling public benefit from the transport infrastructure builds and upgrades that I have been involved with – road / rail / underground / airside. There is rarely an acknowledgement, and they complain vehemently about the process, but gladly enjoy the end result!”


Q. What is the main way that today’s highways sector differs from the one you first joined?

A. “Sustainability was not even a subject within highways when I joined, now it is a key driver – along with performance and value.”


Q. What is the biggest challenge you’ve faced so far?

A. “The slow pace of change which can be very frustrating. We need to learn from each other and share best practice – this is especially true when looking at sustainability; the clock is ticking and long-term trials are not a practical approach when performance data is readily available. We will not achieve our collective sustainability goals unless we change long established behaviours.”


Q. What do you think LCRIG Insight readers would be surprised to learn about you?

A. “I spent 10 years travelling in Asia and Australia which included a seven-year stint living and working in financial services in Hong Kong.”


Q. What do you think is the key to accelerating innovation within the roads sector?

A. “It is critical that we learn from others and share best practice rather than each and every local authority conducting mirror trials of products, which is expensive and slows down the pace of change.”


Q. How different will the sector look in 10 years time?

A. “Materials will improve, methodologies will become more efficient and old school concepts such as hot mix asphalts will be the exception rather than the rule. Our sustainability credentials, as an industry, will have experienced a step change.”


Q. What is the best way of removing barriers to innovation?

A. “I return to the themes of learning from others and sharing best practice. LCRIG is an excellent platform to enable this and I expect to see the importance and acceptance of this, and similar forums, becoming more and more important to the industry.”


Below is an update on other innovation initiatives that the LCRIG team have been busy working on over the last few months:

Innovation in Highways

In November 2021, LCRIG published a report entitled ‘Innovation in highways’. The report highlights some interesting findings on the differing approaches between local authorities and the challenges around implementing innovation in highways.

You can access the full report here.


The LCRIG / Steve Berry ‘Think Exceptional’ Innovation fund, supported by WJ Group

Last year the first companies to receive funding as part of the LCRIG / Steve Berry Think Exceptional Innovation Fund were announced.

Connor Specialist Paving (Tac-Grid), Community Models, Fitzpatrick Advisory (DASHA), NY Highways and Liverpool John Moores University have been selected to receive a share of the £150,000 Innovation fund, facilitated by LCRIG. For more information on the Innovation fund, please click here.


Keep up to date on all LCRIG initiatives by subscribing to our weekly e-newsletter, the LCRIG Insight here.