Steve Rawlings, the founder of Lakehouse and Building Lives, has died aged 62.
Mr Rawlings, who established the building maintenance contractor Lakehouse in 1988, died peacefully in his sleep surrounded by family and friends.
The news was confirmed in a stock exchange announcement this morning.
It said: “The board of Lakehouse plc regrets to announce the death of Mr Steven Rawlings, founder and director of Lakehouse plc.
“The directors and employees of Lakehouse would like to extend their sincerest condolences to his family.”
Mr Rawlings set up the Essex company in the late 1980s from his bedroom, eventually turning it into a £340m turnover business.
During this time he started Building Lives, a network of academies that has given hundreds of disadvantaged young people a route into the construction industry.
Mr Rawlings put millions of pounds of his own money into changing the lives of those people that joined the Building Lives programme.
In 2014 he stepped down as chief executive of Lakehouse to concentrate on Building Lives.
The following year the industry, which strongly backed the aims of the charity, raised more than £400,000 to secure its short-term future.
But last month the organisation announced it would have to close after it failed to secure long-term funding.
In 2015 Mr Rawlings was awarded Construction News’ Awards Roll of Honour award for his services to the industry.
Mr Rawlings remained a majority shareholder in Lakehouse and after the company issued a profit warning he led a shareholder revolt this year that resulted in new management being brought in.
Last week Bob Holt was appointed the company’s new chairman, after the shock departure of CEO Sean Birrane.