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Wiha recognised as one of the TOP 100 most innovative companies

Hand tool manufacturer Wiha can now consider itself as amongst the TOP 100 most innovative companies in Germany’s SME sector. The prize was awarded by the innovation competition presenter and mentor Ranga Yogeshwar within the framework of the German SME Summit on 24 June in Essen.

The competition, which was held on 23 May, involved analytical examination and the evaluation of criteria such as the innovation management and innovative success of the companies. Wiha impressed the jury with its firm commitment to its culture of innovation and is delighted to have its deep-rooted attitude to change, optimisation and progress acknowledged.

For Wiha, being awarded the TOP 100 seal is much more than the mere recognition of its innovative strength. “This is a fantastic confirmation of the strategy we uphold,” emphasises Wilhelm Hahn, Managing Director of Wiha Werkzeuge GmbH. “Innovation, continuous improvement and change are firmly anchored in our company philosophy. The company’s management itself has always been a driving force,” continues Hahn. Managing directors Wilhelm and Wilfried Hahn and Ronny Lindskog all agree that development, growth and success can only be achieved through the ability to question things, embrace creative change, or develop new ideas and innovations.

Ever since its founding in 1939, Wiha’s heart has focussed on developing, producing, and selling high-quality professional hand tool solutions for trade and industry. However, not only the countless national and international patents and design awards for their hand tool innovations serve to prove the innovative strength of the Black Forest-based manufacturer. Distinctions such as the MX Award as Germany’s best SME in 2014 and the latest quality seal from AGR e.V. (Aktion Gesunder Rücken) confirm the health-preserving effect of its screwdriver ergonomics and highlight the innovative spirit and firm dedication to optimisation and further development.

As an internationally active leader in its sector, Wiha is deeply committed to its core aim of offering users the best solutions for simplifying their daily tasks, whilst making their work more efficient and especially safeguarding them from injury. In order to remain in touch with the requirements, demands, and desires of users, Wiha regularly visits construction sites, workshops, and industrial production plants to exchange thoughts and ideas. Questions are posed, processes questioned, and risks or potential possibilities are identified “directly at source”.

During the selection process for the TOP 100, participating companies were assessed once again by Prof. Nikolaus Franke and his team at the Institute for Entrepreneurship and Innovation at Vienna University of Economics and Business. Over 100 parameters in the five assessment categories of “Innovative Spirit of Senior Management”, “Innovative Climate”, “Innovative Processes and Organisation”, “Innovative Marketing/Outward Orientation”, and “Innovative Success” were analysed. Wiha is extremely proud of its distinction and the associated recognition and appreciation of its culture of innovation.

TOP 100: the competition

Compamedia has been awarding the TOP 100 seal for exceptional innovative strength and exceptional innovative success to small- and medium-sized companies since 1993. Since 2002, it has been coordinated by Prof. Nikolaus Franke from the Institute for Entrepreneurship and Innovation at Vienna University of Business and Economics. Scientific journalist and TV presenter Ranga Yogeshwar is a patron of TOP 100. Project partners include the Fraunhofer Society for the Promotion of Applied Research and BVMW. manager magazine assists with the company comparison as media partner. More information is available at www.top100.de.

Hewden ‘Clubs Together’ £25,000 at Annual Golf Day Charity Fundraiser

National specialist equipment and crane hirer, Hewden has held its annual supplier golf day, raising more than £25,000 for UK construction and property industry charity for the homeless, CRASH.

The one-day event, held in Mottram Hall Golf Club, Cheshire brought together senior representatives from some of the industry’s leading firms for a golf day and gala dinner to raise money for the industry charity.

Speaking at the event, Hewden’s Marketing Director, Kumar Bhamidipati said: “CRASH is an organisation that Hewden has been proud to support for a number of years. Everyone involved with the charity does incredible work to support homeless people and help them build a future within the construction industry.

“Thanks to the generous donations from our suppliers, the Hewden team and those that attended the gala dinner we are delighted to make a record Hewden donation of £23,000 to this very worthy cause.”

As well as raising money for charity, Hewden’s annual supplier golf day provides the opportunity for the hirer to better understand the products, services and innovations that can be passed onto its customers.

“Establishing face-to-face relationships with suppliers and partners is very much part of our strategy and philosophy to deliver the best on-site solutions for our customers. We will continue to build on events like this to better improve the industry and the communities we serve,” added Bhamidipati.

New Zealand looks towards UK for construction talent

New Zealand’s leading infrastructure, commercial engineering and building contractor, Fletcher Construction is looking to the UK to recruit top-level talent to help deliver an extended pipeline of the largest infrastructure projects in the nation’s history.

Fletcher Construction is seeking a wide range of top British talent – engineers, project managers, surveyors, designers and builders – and is hosting an event in central London on 28 July to kick-start its recruitment drive.

Chief executive Graham Darlow says global turmoil means Fletcher Construction will appeal to ex-pat and UK construction leaders as it is headquartered in New Zealand where a comfortable lifestyle is balanced by the challenges of world class construction projects. While the Christchurch post-earthquake rebuild is well underway, Auckland is making up for a massive infrastructure deficit and the firm has 30 years-worth of large-scale projects in the offing.

“I have never seen so much construction activity of such a scale right across New Zealand in my 40 years working in the industry,” he says.

“In Auckland right now, we’re working on several major highway projects, an international convention centre and several large five star hotels,” Darlow says.

"Recognising the international competition for skilled infrastructure project managers and engineers, Fletcher Construction has multiple initiatives underway at home and abroad to secure its long term talent pipeline, but is targeting the UK for senior construction leaders."

“We already employ many of New Zealand’s top construction talent but we need more,” says Darlow.

Darlow is realistic about what New Zealand offers: “We might not be able to beat the salaries on offer in Dubai and elsewhere. But where we can compete is the lifestyle and quality of life available here in New Zealand.

Registration for the Fletcher Construction recruitment event can be found at http://www.projectyounz.com/.

Alcohol and drugs in UK construction industry placed under spotlight by Considerate Constructors Scheme

Survey reveals 59% have concerns over effects of drugs and alcohol on the industry

The Considerate Constructors Scheme is taking action to raise awareness of the important issue of drugs and alcohol across the UK Construction industry.  The Scheme’s new 'Spotlight on...' campaign focuses on taking measures to protect and safeguard the entire workforce in relation to drugs and alcohol. 

The need for attention and consideration could not be more of a priority than within the already safety-conscious construction industry. A recent survey of over 1300 people working across the Industry discovered that 59% have concerns over the effects of drugs and alcohol in construction.

The survey, which was conducted by the Considerate Constructors Scheme in May 2016 also revealed that:

  • 65% have never been tested for drugs and alcohol
  • 39% admitted the issue of drugs or alcohol could be better tackled in their workplace
  • 35% have noticed their colleagues under the influence of drugs and alcohol
  • 25% agreed drugs or alcohol affected them at work through tiredness
  • 23% agreed it affected them through decreased attention during work
  • 19% agreed the affects made them less productive at work 

Many contractors, suppliers and clients of the industry undertake rigorous and regular measures to tackle this issue including zero tolerance to drugs and alcohol, random testing, providing information on drugs and alcohol through toolbox talks, site inductions and resources such as on-site posters. 

A number of Scheme-registered contractors have provided case studies on how they tackle this issue, including: A-one+Integrated Highways Services; Ardmore Construction Ltd; Ballymore; Bowmer & Kirkland; Interserve; Jerram Falkus;  John F Hunt Demolition Ltd; John Sisk & Son Ltd; Mick George Ltd; and Mulalley & Co Ltd. All case studies are available on the Best Practice Hub.

Edward Hardy, Chief Executive of the Considerate Constructors Scheme said: “Maintaining a safe working environment is of the utmost importance for any employer; this not only applies to the workforce, but also the surrounding public and anybody else who may be affected.

“Spotlight on… drugs and alcohol is an essential read for everyone, as the Scheme’s latest industry survey revealed 59% of respondents agree that drugs and alcohol are issues of concern. It is clear action must be taken across the industry to ensure workforce safety, health and wellbeing on sites and in companies throughout the UK.”

Click here to read the Scheme’s ‘Spotlight on… drugs and alcohol’. 

For further information, please visit www.ccscheme.org.uk  www.ccsbestpracticehub.org.uk Twitter: @ccscheme @ccsbestpractice

 

Sad News at Centurion

Charlie McKinlay, European agent for Centurion Europe, has passed away suddenly and unexpectedly on 4th June. 

Charlie had worked with Centurion for the more than five years and had a long and distinguished career in the international DIY sector.  A well-respected and popular character, his loss has come as a great shock to his many friends and colleagues at Centurion, across the industry and for the numerous customers with whom he had built long term relationships. 

Charlie started his sales career at Timex, but spent the bulk of his working life in the tools and hardware industries, working with Aven Tools, Sandvik and American Tools.   He was managing director of Izard Irwin and also spent time with AW Tools before representing Centurion, one of his key principals, worldwide.  Leading the company’s export activities, he was a frequent visitor to the IHF in Cologne and was highly instrumental in securing Centurion’s extensive 22 country export portfolio.

Paul Kantecki, managing director of Centurion Europe said, “Charlie was admired and loved by everyone at Centurion. Having worked with Charlie for many years, he taught me a lot and it has been a real pleasure to know him.  His contribution to this company and the industry in general was great and we are lucky to have enjoyed his company as part of the Centurion team.  He was one of this industry’s great characters and he will be sorely missed. Our sincere condolences go to his family at this sad time.”

Anyone wishing to make a donation in Charlie’s memory is asked to contact the British Heart Foundation or visit https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/inmemoryofcharliemckinlay

AkzoNobel opens pioneering ‘VR’ Customer Centre at Dulux HQ

-New 6,400 sq. ft facility houses industry-first Virtual Reality technology enabling retailers to explore different store environments and experiment with product layout

-Facility offers completely immersive Dulux experience, showcasing latest trends in colour palettes and future design concepts developed by Dulux colour experts

-Ex-GSK marketeer Jenny Hall appointed to head new Dulux Customer Experience team with remit to drive future growth through ‘customer-centric’ ethos

AkzoNobel UK this week opens a brand new Customer Centre at its decorative paint headquarters in Slough, housing a pioneering Virtual Reality suite which will enable retailers to immerse themselves in the Dulux customer experience and view product innovations before they go to market.

The 6,400 square foot facility includes an innovation lab and ‘living zone’ furnished and finished by Dulux colour and design experts, to bring current and future decorative trends to life. Other features include a showcase store environment, indoor and outdoor hospitality spaces.

The centrepiece of the new facility is a Virtual Reality installation, which offers retailers the opportunity to create and trial potential store layouts, so that they can instantly weigh up the impact, convenience and fit of different in-store display options, before products hit the shelves.

The opening of the Customer Centre coincides with the appointment of former GlaxoSmithKline marketeer, Jenny Hall to a brand new role as Customer Experience and Transformation Director. Jenny, who joined AkzoNobel in 2011, has undertaken a series of senior marketing roles across the Consumer and Trade business, most recently leading a strategic review of Dulux’s stores network.

Jenny leads a newly formed Customer Experience team, with the objective of developing a world class customer experience for AkzoNobel Decorative Paints UK and Ireland. The new structure reflects AkzoNobel’s wider ambition to drive all future growth through a customer-centric ethos.

Matt Pullen, Managing Director of AkzoNobel UK & Ireland said:

“AkzoNobel are committed to constantly improving Customer Experience and the new Customer Centre delivers a real step change in that experience.

“It means our product and service offer is more tailored to individual customers’ needs and employs technology such as Virtual Reality to help customers to visualise and optimise store layouts and experiment with new design options. The centre is also the perfect showcase to lift the lid on product and service innovations before they come to market.

“This facility is designed to cement AkzoNobel’s place as an industry leader in marketing, category management, technology and design, allowing us to explore new business opportunities and work collaboratively to unlock future growth in our industry.”

Regarding Jenny Hall’s appointment, Matt Pullen added:

“Jenny is a highly talented colleague who has made a major contribution to the success of AkzoNobel brands in the UK over the last five years. Her new role recognises that to drive future growth and differentiation in the market, we need to adopt a customer-centric approach. 

“She leads a brand new team from across the business with the clear objective of putting the Customer at the Heart of our business, ensuring that we are focused on delivering a world class customer experience that ensures our brands and our business are first choice for all our customers.”

Commenting on her new position, Jenny Hall, Customer Experience and Transformation Director for AkzoNobel Decorative Paints UK & Ireland said:

“I am absolutely delighted to have been chosen to lead the new Customer Experience team.

“Our objective will be to inspire and create organisational change to deliver an unrivalled customer experience, and in turn generate new commercial opportunities, competitive advantage, employee engagement and ultimately customer loyalty.

“The combination of this new team and the opening of our amazing new Customer Centre will enhance customer experiences and ultimately move us closer to our goal of inspiring and enabling beautiful living spaces for all.”

This week’s developments are part of a drive by AkzoNobel to harness innovations and technologies which set new standards for the industry and crucially put the needs of the customer first. 

  • Dulux Amazing Space was launched in October 2015: a pioneering online interior design service provided by Dulux Design Experts and including a 30 minute consultation, a personalised digital style guide and a 3D room visualisation making design and colour expertise accessible for all.

The Dulux Visualiser App: an easy to use smartphone app that lets you pick a colour from any source, and with augmented reality technology, allows you to see the colours come to life in your living space.

  • The Dulux Academy: launched in March 2016 next to the Customer Centre at AkzoNobel Decorative Paints HQ, the Academy will enable more than 4,000 people every year including professional decorators, store staff and employees to receive advanced training on product knowledge, application techniques and the essential principles of colour, design and sustainability.  The Academy will also equip decorators with the skills to build, run and promote a successful business.

Calling all Workers in the Electrical, Building and Plumbing Sectors!

Are you an electrician, builder or plumber? Would you like to win £250,000, a car, a motorbike, a boat and a whole lot of other goodies? Then the UK Worker of the Year competition is just what you are looking for.

Now in its seventh year, the competition, organised by Dickies this year in association with ASDA and HONDA UK, is offering a range of amazing prizes. In addition to the opportunity of winning the whopping £250,000, there is a Honda Jazz car, a Honda Crosstourer 1200cc motorbike, a Honda Marine Rib boat, a year’s free shopping at ASDA, a luxury holiday and that’s just for the winner.  There are more prizes available to our finalists, and spot prizes along the way. The competition is founded on the same principles as the Dickies work wear brand: excellence, professionalism and longevity.

With a wide range of ppe products suitable for electricians, builders and plumbers, Dickies knows what matters to you most when working. The personal protective clothing and equipment you use should only be of the highest quality, which is what you are guaranteed in the extensive Dickies range.

Gary Barak, the event promoter, commented: “This competition is to demonstrate pride in the British workforce, and is open to everyone, regardless of whether you work on the shop floor or are a CEO.”

It’s easy to enter UK Worker of the Year 2016, simply go to the competition’s website: www.ukworkeroftheyear.com. You can also find out more about the competition if you visit our UK Worker of the Year Facebook page www.facebook.com/ukworkeroftheyear or @workeroftheyear on Twitter.

WernerCO invests over $1.8M at its Maldon UK Facility

WernerCo, the UK’s leading manufacturer of professional ladders and access towers, invests over $1.8m at its Maldon UK facility strengthening its position in the market.

At the heart of the investment sits the installation of a new BLM Adige Fibre Optic Laser Cutter, used for cutting treads for WernerCo’s leading fibreglass stepladders, stiles for box section extension ladders and BoSS access tower components.

John Darby, WernerCo UK Manufacturing Engineering Manager, said: “The state of the art machine from Italy was an investment of over $1.2m and forms part of the overall production site improvements in WernerCo’s Maldon UK plant.

“The investment in this second laser cutting machine prevents any need for outsourcing and provides an increase in capacity to support growth. The new machinery enables cutting for the D-Rung ladder stiles and GRP (Glass Reinforced Plastic) treads and horizontals. More critically this investment improves and streamlines production processes, following the production lines moving from our Belper site.”

To support the overall improvements in operational efficiency at the Maldon plant, over 25,000 sq.ft of storage buildings have been added for component storage, including a 10,000 sq.ft dedicated extrusion store.

In November 2015, WernerCo opened a new National Distribution Centre in Burton Upon Trent, which saw the move of finished ladders from Maldon and Belper. This new centrally located facility provides distribution and collection facilities to WernerCo’s UK customer base.

As a result, over 36,000 sq.ft of production floor in Maldon has now been relayed to optimise production efficiency and to absorb the volume from the Belper closure on course for later this year.

WernerCo has invested over $100k in increased nitrogen generation, which is used in the aluminium laser cutting production, making the company self-sufficient in nitrogen generation. In addition the company has also improved external storage, general facilities and parking.

Nick Platt, EMEA VP Operations, said: “WernerCo has production facilities all over the world, and it’s been great to see the investment in manufacturing in our UK business.

“We are looking forward to seeing the results of the investments and improvements at Maldon in terms of quality, speed and efficiency at the plant. We’re also investing in global operations, like Vietnam, where we have just installed a new $5m aluminium extrusion machine, predominantly to supply ladders for the UK market.”

Brexit Forum - Brita-in or Brita-out? 

In the light of the upcoming European Referendum, the organisers behind the UK Construction Week, surveyed construction professionals about the upcoming EU referendum. Of the 3,200 that took part, 57% believed the UK should stay in the EU, with 43% wanting to leave. Interestingly, engineers and architects are more likely to stay, with subcontractors voting by 58% to leave. 

At a forum on the 26th of May at Grimshaw Architects, a worldwide architectural practice, a mixed panel of industry experts was invited to discuss the realities of a Brexit to the Construction Industry. The panel, hosted by Brian Kilkelly, founder Member of the World Cities Network and Development lead of Climate KIC, consisted of Brian Berry, the Chief Executive of the Federation of Master Builders (FMB), Cezary Bednarski, founder of Studio Bednarski, Paul Scully, MP for Sutton and Cheam, David Cash, Chairman of BDP, and Mark Middleton, the Managing Partner of Grimshaw Architects. 

Brian Berry began by turning the red tape argument on its head, arguing that regulation and skilled labour were vital in the UK Construction Industry, and being part of the EU, was therefore important to ensure a supply of suitably trained tradespeople, working in a well regulated environment. He did concede that many individual tradespeople would vote to leave based on their personal beliefs and experiences, but over half of them said that they would like more concrete information to inform their choices.

Cezary was keen to put what he called a ‘philosophical’ view to the audience. As a Polish immigrant many years ago, who had to fight for his British Citizenship, and who has completed many architectural commissions throughout the world, including Africa, he took the view that ‘elephants do not gallop’- the EU was too slow to respond to changing market conditions, and it was therefore in Britain’s best interests to leave. 

Paul Scully, businessman and recently elected conservative MP, had three reasons for voting to leave, trade, immigration, and sovereignty. He believes that Britain is shackled by EU Trade Groups, and stated we would be far stronger on our own. 

David Cash, also an architect, believes that Britain’s economic fortunes are firmly tied to the EU. In the longer term, businesses will continue to build connections in Europe, however an exit would surely create a ‘tough patch’ in the UK. He also argued that he has no issues with adopting several identities; English, British or European, depending on where he is in the world. 

Much like David, Mark Middleton not only enjoys the lifestyle of a European and visa free travel, but also is keen to emphasise that Britain holds a powerful ‘third position’ by not being part of the Schengen Agreement and the single currency. He sees that a breakaway from Europe will mean forcing us enter into negotiations for European Trade, something we have not done since the 1970s. He cites the Norway example of how not to do things- all the costs but with none of the influence. 

The first issue discussed was the Housing Crisis in the UK. David was first answer this, making the point that building housing is not necessarily connected to the EU. The London housing market has been overheated by international money buying up expensive properties at the expense of affordable housing in the capital. Brian Berry shares this view, suggesting that affordable housing was very much in the remit of the UK Government, and it was wrong to blame immigrants for it. He also put it down to the fact people are living longer, and the shortage of land to build on. Brexit would lead to a decline of investment in major infrastructure projects, because Europeans might withdraw from the UK. But also any ‘tough patch’ in the building industry created by a Brexit may see householders lacking the cash and confidence to upgrade or repair their homes.

In direct contrast, Cezary believes that money is neutral and will follow the market, so for him infrastructure investment is not an issue, and housing very much a responsibility for local authorities and housing trusts. By rewriting immigration rules, skilled people would be attracted to the UK to address the much-discussed shortage of construction skills.

This idea of widening the search for skilled workers was an attractive prospect also to Paul Scully, particularly with America and Australia. He also disagreed with Mark’s view of negotiating trade deals, claiming we already had trade deals with Europe, and a Brexit would allow Britain to move ‘nimbly’ through the international market, and allow many small British businesses a freedom from red tape. 

The debate then moved on to a discussion of infrastructure. The survey had revealed that 16% of respondents claimed that major infrastructure projects would be positively affected by Brexit, 47% said it would make no difference, and 37% thought that the effect would be negative. 

Mark feels that we are in a more important period of infrastructure building than in Victorian times, believing we have benefited from the EU, as we simply do not have enough skilled people in Britain, nor the funding. Paul believes with 95% of small business are currently not involved in major infrastructure, leaving the EU would make little difference. 

Given the opportunity to sum up their positions, it became clear that emotional arguments are just as important as practical or philosophical ones. The panel agreed that the EU needs to adapt to survive. Economically, there are still countries like Spain and Greece that need support. The balance between economic regulation and freedom needs to be redefined in order to create a more vibrant free market economy that would be more open to the world markets that Britain would like to trade with.

It also faces real difficulties like the immigration crisis and the threat of Russia, in which concerted European efforts will prove to be necessary to solve, regardless of Brexit. There is no doubt that Britain will still need to deal with the effects of migration, whether in or out. 

In a show of hands, a slimmish majority of the audience voted to stay in, although many stated that the debate had really helped them crystallise their thoughts on the upcoming referendum. 

Industrial flooring company Watco wins ECMOD Direct Commerce Award

Innovation and excellent customer service are key to Watco’s success in being named Best Industrial and Warehouse Supply Business.

Watco, the UK’s leading direct supplier of industrial strength flooring products, has won the ECMOD Direct Commerce Best Industrial and Warehouse Supply Business Award. Held at the Hurlingham Club, Fulham, the award was presented to Ed Suthon, Managing Director, Steve Chanter, Product and Operations Director, and the UK Marketing Team by Dermot Murnaghan from Sky News.

The ECMOD Direct Commerce Awards, organised by Direct Commerce Magazine and supported by the Direct Commerce Association, was created to celebrate excellence across a range of categories and is entered by direct commerce and multichannel businesses. Watco was adjudged to have demonstrated excellent performance in key areas of customer service and innovation, to win the Best Industrial and Warehouse Supply Business.

Commenting on its success, Ed Suthon said, “Watco is driven by a passionate team of staff and a culture of innovation making us extremely successful in the industrial and warehousing industry. This innovative culture keeps us up-to-date with new technology, but we also listen to what our customers say. Our customers are at the heart of everything we do and many of our products are in response to their requirements, and are often inspired by a customer enquiry.”

Watco prides itself on its high-quality, trustworthy approach and innovation. With customer service a top priority, the company has invested in web site improvements for easier customer navigation, and investment in product training to offer top quality customer service, resulting in a high level of customer loyalty. The constant drive to improve product offering saw several new products launched in 2015– the main ones including Putty Patch, Powerfloat Sealer and the Protect range.

Watco also takes great pride in supporting charities local to their head office in Godalming, Surrey,  Support Shooting Star Chase, a hospice dedicated to helping families with children that have life-limiting conditions, and Age UK’s ‘Call in Time’ scheme.

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