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Chandlers launches new graduate training scheme

Chandlers Building Supplies is delighted to announce the launch of its brand new Graduate Management Training Programme, which gives young people the chance to develop a career in the builders merchants industry.

Offering graduates the opportunity to get to know the sector inside out, the two year programme will include working in a variety of roles and departments interspersed with tailored training workshops that will be delivered by the Builders Merchants Federation.

The first year will be spent at Chandlers’ head office in Ringmer, where graduates will gain experience in a range of roles including sales, transport and operations.  In the second year they will have the opportunity to further develop their skills and experience working alongside colleagues in one of the company’s Sussex based branches.

At the end of the programme it is hoped that the graduates will be in a strong position to apply for supervisory roles within the business before progressing to management positions in the future.

Andrew Cope, Managing Director of Chandlers Building Supplies, commented:

“Graduate training schemes offer young people a fantastic opportunity to immerse themselves in a particular industry.   This will be our first Graduate Management Training Programme and we look forward to welcoming the successful candidates into the business.

“I’m sure many young people will not have considered looking at career options within the builders merchant industry, however, for an individual with drive and determination there is plenty of opportunity to establish a very varied, fulfilling and successful career.”

Those wishing to find out more about programme can do so by visiting the Chandlers website https://chandlersbs.co.uk/graduate-scheme  Closing date for applications is the 31st July with an anticipated start date in September.

DIY SOS calls upon local construction industry to help transform young carers’ centre in Blackpool

DIY SOS Trades Day’ Event on Wednesday 8th June 2016 hopes to galvanise support from businesses and volunteer trades for DIY SOS, BBC Children in Need special

BBC television’s most popular building series, presented by Nick Knowles, DIY SOS: The Big Build, is attempting to take on one of its most ambitious and heartfelt projects to date and needs the help of businesses and volunteer tradespeople from the greater Blackpool area of Lancashire.

The BBC One TV programme, DIY SOS The Big Build, Children in Need Special is preparing to transform a young carers centre from a run-down, neglected Victorian house, to a fun, safe and supportive environment where young carers are able to enjoy their childhood. The project is being designed by Lawrence Llewellyn-Bowen, who was himself a young carer and will raise money for Children in Need projects across the country. To achieve this ambition the programme is seeking donations of materials as well as help from tradespeople including; electricians, plumbers, carpenters, plasterers, decorators and landscape gardeners who may be able to offer support.

 DIY SOS, build manager, Mark Millar is hosting an all-day event on Wednesday 8th June 2016 at Blenheim House, Blackpool and inviting tradespeople and businesses to assess the task at hand and find out how they can contribute by volunteering as a trade or by donating materials.  The upcoming build dates are: Tuesday 28 June until Thursday 7 July 2016 and will help make a difference to Blackpool Carers, a charity which provides emotional and practical support to young carers, some as young as five.

Nick Knowles, presenter of BBC One’s DIY SOS, said: “We’re so excited to be coming to Blackpool to renovate Blenheim House for some of the most important un-sung heroes of the community – young carers. We know this build will be no mean feat, but these young people are worth it. From skips to bricks, paint to plasterboard and anything in between, we urge businesses to come along to the event and pledge to help in any way they can. Ultimately we hope to change the lives of these young people and deliver the safe and calm environment they deserve – but we can’t do it alone. We need the help of local trades and suppliers.”  

Michelle Smith, CEO at Blackpool Carers Centre added: “Although we are incredibly fortunate to have been provided with such a great base from which to reach out to more carers and respond to need, it is currently in no fit state to host services for those children and young people who have caring roles.

We would love to be able to provide support and respite in a safe, clean, stimulating environment. This would enable the young carers to not only enjoy their well-deserved childhood, but also have a much better chance of a brighter future.

We are delighted to have the support from DIY SOS and would appeal for others to help them, help us achieve our dream.”

Those interested in attending the Trades Day on Wednesday 8th June ahead of the build MUST contact Lucy Jones BEFORE HAND for further information by emailing: [email protected].

Unlocking ABUS UK – 21st Century Security Solutions

Report by Peter Brett

History Means a Lot

The ABUS story starts in the village of Volmarstein, Germany, in 1924 when August Bremicker and his sons (hence AB und S = ABUS) founded the company. Initially they made padlocks and accompanying hasps and staples in the cellar of the family home, but 92 years later ABUS production is based in five different German locations, and two Chinese plants with worldwide partnerships and subsidiaries. Its 3000 or so employees are urged to live up to ABUS’ motto of “Security built on quality” so ABUS is justifiably proud of its market-leading security solutions for homes and mobile objects aimed to provide ‘the good feeling of security’

Founder August Bremicker and his family had very strong Christian values and these principles still guide his great grandsons who head the company today.  Honesty and integrity in dealing with customers, suppliers and staff are very important, as well as more current preoccupations like “green” issues and energy usage that have strong implications for the future of next generations. For example, ABUS production methods are so stringent that pollution from its factories is a fraction of current EU targets.

The UK’s current debate over a living wage has not been an issue at any ABUS operations.

There have been many milestones along the way since production restarted in 1947 after World War II. These include the iconic Diskus Padlock in 1949 – still an icon today set apart by its German production and trademark ‘Diskus’ logo.

Increasing demand and market share made it necessary to open the Rehe factory in 1957 in Westerwald, which is now also the centre for developing and testing commercial, domestic and mobile security products.  Rehe is the production base for the ABUS ‘Granit’ padlock range.

1957 also saw the introduction of the first brass padlocks on the market, the ABUS no 75, followed swiftly in 1958 by the first ABUS bicycle lock and a telephone lock. I remember my mum had one to stop my elder sister from having long teenage telephone conversations while she was at work!

The first bicycle U-lock was launched in 1971 and has been much copied, as was ABUS’ first additional retrofit window lock.

With the demand for extra home security solutions in the seventies, ABUS produced a range of retrofit domestic door locking products and the oil tank lock from 1981 again reflected the needs of consumers during the 2nd oil crisis.

In the “noughties” ABUS acquired the Pfaffenhain cylinder system company based in Saxony and later the Security Centre Company that enabled it to expand its competence into video surveillance and alarms as well. By 2008 modern security needs required the development of the Secvest 2WAY danger detection system which combined fire and intruder protection and in 2011 ABUS was selected as a security system “best for children” for its range of “child friendly” locks.

A relatively new development, also located at the Westerwald factory, is the ABUS Academy. Its modern facilities are used to train and inform ABUS’ distributors and installers about ABUS security products and general security issues, so their business partners have the best information about both ABUS security solutions and the security industry in general.

This lightning tour of ABUS’ past history is complemented with the introduction of the new series of TITALIUM padlocks in 2012 – a brand new alloy developed by ABUS using, amongst other metals, titanium and aluminium, to create a padlock body that provides a lower cost alternative to brass, but with equal or higher security rating – and the image of solid steel!.  This month sees the launch of shutter and closed shackle TITALIUM padlocks offering further high value and security.

ABUS in the UK – Markets, Marketing and Products

Inevitably there are always differences in the way that markets operate in different countries and Nick Vanderhoest, MD of the UK subsidiary of ABUS has had the job of managing ABUS’ growth since 2006 when CK stopped marketing ABUS and started marketing its own brand of locks independently. Today the bulk of ABUS UK’s padlock business is been managed via wholesale partners Toolbank, Hoppe and Aldridge.

However, markets don’t stay the same. Increasing internet sales and the introduction of more complicated electronic security products using smart technology and video recording, has meant that ABUS has had to develop its own team of experts and additional specialised distribution.

ABUS has not ignored the impact of the likes of Amazon and other internet sales companies, nor have they ignored the big retailers like Screwfix and B&Q and this has meant the development of a range of strategies to keep customers happy. 

The sizeable premises in Avonmouth near Bristol, is home to a team of sales and support staff who manage all the functions of a modern subsidiary. IT, as we would expect, is a key area, with roles in communication, accounts and product development. Each area of ABUS’ security products has its own dedicated Product Manager, whose role it is to explain and develop products and markets, support sales staff and all the other 101 things that come up.

Marketing is also an inevitable part of explaining and expanding awareness of products, and this important role is filled by Sarah Utley, the lady with the “In” tray that is constantly being filled with new demands – some from this magazine.

The building also houses a substantial warehouse space needed for stock as well as cylinder system assembly, servicing and demonstration space for new products and ranges.

Nick is a mine of information about the UK market for security products and how it differs from other markets – particularly the continental market, where security needs differ greatly than in some sectors of the UK.

One example he quoted was window security, where screw type sash locks are considered enough for most purposes in the UK. However, Germany and continental Europe they have floor to ceiling windows that can be tilted or fully open for ventilation and for easy cleaning. These windows provide a significant security risk, because they are easily big enough for an adult to enter through, and big enough to manoeuvre a giant flat screen TV through as well. ABUS has been providing both inbuilt and retrofit window locks for these types of windows for many years and continental householders think nothing of spending €100 or more for secure locks on each window. Hard to imagine an average UK householder spending £80 on door or window locks…… And yet with the more and more modern buildings with walls of glass being built in the UK, it will be only a matter of time, so perhaps specialist security retailers will need to start looking around at the products needed to fulfil the demand. 

It is a similar story with UK home security. As some readers may know already from continental holidays, each European manufacturer may have a range of different keyways to fit a continental euro cylinder lock. This means that European potential thieves would have to have literally hundreds of “bump keys” if trying to access a home via the ‘bumping’ method. However, in the UK, 95% of us use the 1A Yale keyway. While this is convenient for distributors cutting extra keys, limiting the range of key blanks distributors have to stock, it also means that a potential thief has to carry only one “bump key” to potentially gain entry to most UK domestic locks.

ABUS promotes it’s high quality cylinders as the ‘brain’ of the door, and rather promotes correct size cylinders protected by internally fitted strong door furniture across many often patented different key profiles as the better door cylinder security solution.   ABUS has just developed and launched a solution to consumers’ varying cylinder size requirements with its ‘Modular’ cylinder lock system that both minimises the sizes of cylinders distributors need to stock while adding extra strength against ‘snapping’ type break ins.

But as we would expect, Nick is also keen to tell us about the latest developments that ABUS has been making in “Mechatronic” (access control via a combination of top class mechanical security with electronic programming) and video security. Ironically this area has grown in the UK because some ABUS dealers have asked the company to help them install their own security system. The knowledge gained with involvement in installing the system has then led to the dealer to be able to confidently recommend and manage the more complicated sales process involved in installing a mechatronic system.

ABUS cylinder systems are already used in a number of high profile buildings like the Burj al Arab Hotel in Dubai, Wembley Stadium and the Gherkin, and ABUS confidently predicts their Mechtronic solutions will be exploited in similar icons. Security issue in large organisations will be complex, with staff needing access to clean and service, while clients need the reassurance of security for themselves and their possessions.

This can now be achieved via electronic key fobs using 6 digit pin numbers that are almost impregnable to either manipulation due to the millions of combinations they offer, and their inherent mechanical strength and quality.

Either commercial or domestic needs can take advantage of this system, but it is not too much of a stretch to see that as the systems become more common (and therefore cheaper) these simple to operate systems will become the norm for “ordinary” householders to programme in unique numbers to allow a plumber access at a certain time, enable the Ocado delivery and let the kids in after school. Done remotely via a smartphone, AirBnB owners could manage a unique access time and code for their individual guests.  ABUS successfully sells many thousands of “key garages” for carer or holiday homes access.  But the mechatronic solution eliminates the potential “key garage” risk where actual house keys could be stolen or copied, and where guests inadvertently or deliberately reset a new “key garage” combination.

Increasingly, even home security now involves the use of video cameras to record movements and events. ABUS’ latest contribution to this are high technology low cost camera systems that are able to use existing analogue cabling to record high resolution digital images that can be used to identify individuals or car number plates.

The ABUS Academy can help provide extra information and training and ABUS’ team of individual Product Managers and Sales team can all be involved in helping clients choose and install a security system that is suitable for particular premises.

By now, readers should be able to gauge that ABUS’ knowledge of security is in-depth and extensive and this is reflected in the range of security solutions the company offers. Whether it is a cylinder lock for a front door, a disc brake lock for an expensive motorcycle or a surveillance and security system for a luxury house, the ABUS people have the expertise to recommend and supply a system that suits – whether this is in the UK or pretty well anywhere else in the world.

My big realization after our visit to ABUS UK is that I need to wake up a bit when it comes to my home and workshop security. And perhaps this is also a message that ABUS dealers could be passing on to customers. Increased security may not always cost that much extra, but as Nick told us, security is only as good as the weakest link and even a determined thief can be put off by the extra time that that extra bit of security might buy us. Time for a security evaluation I think. 

ABUS’ Security Viewpoint

I’d like to firstly stress the vital point of ABUS’ Christian belief.  We live today in a multi-faith country and world, but whatever one’s personal creed, faith or doctrine, we hope all our customers recognise, as do all ABUS staff, the very real benefit of the high ethical code on which all ABUS business is conducted.

This links strongly with the ABUS’ insistence on constant high quality of material and manufacture, and as Peter has already pointed out our founding statement is “Security built on quality”.

While on links, I also pick up and emphasise Peter’s point on security being as strong as the weakest link.  We see unbalanced situations where containers full of high value merchandise are secured by a brass padlock, or where a garden shed with high value leisure goods is secured with a Granite padlock, but the shed door needs only a screwdriver to take off the hinges.  So the fundamental rule of security is recognising all potential points of entry, and ensuring balanced appropriate security for the risk and value is comprehensively applied.  Police advise on cycle and motorcycle security is to spend at least 10% of the value you are protecting on security devises.  This commercial advice can be applied to all security applications.

I also stress Peter’s comments on the varying security needs in different countries, which as an international manufacturer and supplier of security solutions leaves ABUS with the continual challenge, to think global and act local.

I am very proud to work for the brand ABUS, and while we strive for perfection, recognise we sometimes may fall short of all expectations.  We none the less genuinely believe that ABUS, through our valued customers and UK distribution does make a genuine valuable contribution to ‘the good feeling of security’.

Nick Vanderhoest – Managing Director - ABUS UK

 

Paul Bidwell - Marketing Manager of Manitou Ltd UK, dies at the age of 58

It is with great sadness that to nform you of the sudden death of Paul Bidwell, Marketing Manager of Manitou UK Ltd  on Friday 13 May 2016 at the age of 58.
Paul was a well-loved member of the Manitou UK staff and had been with the Company for over 25 years.

Jonathan Tapp Managing Director conveyed the feelings of the Company by saying “Paul was a well loved member of the staff here at Manitou and so I am sure you can appreciate we have lost a dear and valued colleague and our thoughts go out to all Paul’s family and friends.”

Brian Bradford Managing Director of Manitou Dealer Northern Lift Trucks (NI) Ltd also added ““It was with great shock and sadness that we learnt of the recent untimely death of Paul Bidwell.I have known Paul since he started with Manitou in the Sales Administration Department more than 25 years ago. Paul was a kind, good hearted man who was well liked by everyone in the industry. Our thoughts and prayers are with his wife and family at this difficult time.He will be sorely missed."

Welsh Welders Win Hat-Trick

  • Coleg Cambria, from North Wales have been crowned winners of the Weld Off 2016 for the third time
  • Hosted by Morris Site Machinery and partners Speedy Services the welders aged between 16-26 years took part in a live welding competition which was themed on ‘God Save the Queen’, to celebrate the Queen’s 90th birthday

Students from Coleg Cambria have been crowned the best young welders in Britain for the third time at the sensational final of the national live welding competition, Weld Off 2016.

Four Coleg Cambria students from the North East Wales college took the top spot and prizes worth more than £3,000. Matthew Hughes, Gareth Phillips, Owen Fitzgibbon and Thomas Lavender wowed judges with their breath-taking replica of the Queen’s Royal Carriage, complete with gilded crown, ornate royal detailing and even a piece of red carpet inside which the Queen herself has stepped on.  

Morris Site Machinery, supplier of ArcGen Welding equipment and in association with Speedy, hosted the competition which required four finalist teams of students between the ages of 16- 26 years old from across the UK, to showcase their welding prowess. The competition comprised a Q&A round, a skills section and a creative test which challenged contestants to create an inspiring exhibition piece based on the theme of ‘God Save the Queen’.

The live competition hosted at Speedy’s National Distribution Centre in Tamworth, now in its third year, attracted some of the most talented welding students and apprentices from across the nation.

National business broadcaster, Steph McGovern, winner of ‘Young Engineer for Britain’ at just 19 years old, attended the competition as special guest, assisted the judges and provided moral support for all the contestants throughout the day.  

The national judging panel was made-up of welding specialists from across the industry including  Michael Scarrott from awarding association for industry qualifications, EAL, who was head judge; Richard Denholm, Sales Director and Welding Specialist from Morris Site Machinery, along with Mick Link from Speedy.

Phil Winnington, Managing Director at Morris Site Machinery, said: “This has been an outstanding year for the Weld-Off and it was a truly competitive atmosphere! Every year the bar is raised and we have been astounded by the level of creativity, quality and interpretation of the theme which celebrates Her Majesty at 90.

“British manufacturing is seeing a renaissance and we wanted a theme which would compliment this.  Our competition attracts and uncovers a wealth of talent and skills we have in the UK. This is something we wanted to champion and encourage more young people into engineering to ensure that Britain’s skills base and manufacturing heritage are retained as best as possible.

“Coleg Cambria continue to set the standard every year and we would like to congratulate them on their performance and achieving a hat-trick. We would also like to thank all the teams who entered and especially those who competed to make this year’s competition the best yet.”

The highly commended runners-up included apprentices from City of Wolverhampton College, who created a robust interpretation of London’s famous Tower Bridge; students from Training 2000 in Lancashire, who also took cues from the Royal Family and welded a Royal Carriage and the team from New College Durham who produced an afternoon tea setting complete with French Fancie cakes fit for the Queen and any garden party.

Jane Nugent, Marketing Director of Speedy Services, the UK’s leading tools, equipment and plant hire services company, said: “We were delighted to host the competition at our National Distribution Centre. Everyone was very impressed with the calibre and creativity of work.  The contestants’ work ethic, skill and passion really shone through and all 16 are a real credit to young people in the manufacturing and engineering sectors.

UK’s Most Considerate Sites revealed

Four constructors triumph at Considerate Constructors Scheme National Site Awards 2016

Costain, Gentoo Construction, Robert Woodhead Ltd and Walter Thompson (Contractors) Ltd have each been awarded the prestigious title of Most Considerate Site at the Considerate Constructors Scheme’s 2016 National Site Awards.

This year marks the first time four sites have won the esteemed Most Considerate Site accolade, as a result of ‘value bands’ being introduced, enabling sites to be assessed against projects of similar value.

The value bands are: Under £500k; £500k to <£5m; £5m to <£10m; £10m and over, and the award-winning sites are:

  • Denton Green Bungalows project - Robert Woodhead Ltd (under £500k)

This project involved the construction of four new-build bungalows on a brownfield site in a recognised area of social deprivation in Broxtowe, Nottinghamshire.

  • Linthorpe School Extension and Refurbishment - Walter Thompson (Contractors) Ltd (£500k to <£5m)

This project was the construction of a single-storey classroom and office extension in Linthorpe, Middlesbrough.

 

  • The Cheviots - Gentoo Construction (£5m to <£10m)

This project was the construction of a 40-bed extra care home, alongside six new bungalows in Ashington, Northumberland.

 

  • A556 Knutsford to Bowdon Improvement Scheme - Costain (£10m and over)

This scheme was the construction of a 4.7 mile section of main road, together with associated bridges and underpasses in Cheshire.

Over 3000 guests from construction sites of all different sizes attended award ceremonies held from 11-29 April in Edinburgh, London and Manchester.

This year’s National Site Awards applied to registered sites that completed in 2015.

Projects registered with the Scheme must demonstrate an appreciation of the impact of their work on the community, the environment and their workforce, and this year was no exception with around 9000 sites eligible to win a National Site Award.

The Scheme held 13 ceremonies and presented a total of 932 National Site Awards. In addition to the four Most Considerate Site awards, there were 430 Bronze, 293 Silver and 173 Gold and 32 Most Considerate Site Runners-Up.

Edward Hardy, Chief Executive of the Considerate Constructors Scheme, said: “Congratulations to each and every site receiving a 2016 National Site Award. Every year, the Scheme is taken aback by the many different ways contractors demonstrate their considerate credentials. This year has been no exception, with project teams across the UK serving as beacons of best practice. 

“Special congratulations go to each of the 2016 Most Considerate Sites. These sites have shown truly exceptional performance, making tremendous efforts in going way above and beyond compliance with the Scheme – taking considerate construction to a new level.

“They have worked with enthusiasm and dedication to ensure that they showcase the very best of the construction industry, helping to make construction a more attractive career choice.

“This year’s introduction of value bands underlines that no matter what size or scale of construction site, consideration towards the community, workforce and environment makes a marked difference in improving the image of the industry.

“My congratulations again, and also my thanks to all winners for their continued commitment and hard work in striving towards an ever improving construction industry. All those winning awards this year are at very forefront of making the construction industry great and they should all be very proud of how their efforts are improving our industry’s image.”

Click here to read more about awards and search the database listing all 2016 National Site Award winners.

 

Considerable milestone achieved for UK construction industry

The Considerate Constructors Scheme - the national Scheme to improve the image of the construction industry - has reached a formidable milestone; registering 90,000 construction sites. 

This historic registration was made by one of the country’s leading house builders Barratt London, for the high profile Nine Elms Point development in London.

Barratt London is also working with Sainsbury’s Supermarkets Ltd, who are the Considerate Constructors Scheme’s founder member Client Partner, and housing association L&Q to deliver 645 new homes, a new 80,000 sq ft Sainsbury’s store and 27,000 sq ft of local shops, restaurants and office space at Nine Elms Point.

Following its first registration in 1997, the Scheme has become an integral part of the construction landscape and a strongly recognisable sight with its banners and posters adorning hoardings throughout the country.

One of the very few organisations to be monitoring the industry’s progress and sharing best practice on-the-ground, the Scheme undertakes around 13,000 visits to sites, companies and suppliers per year.

Considerate Constructors Scheme Chief Executive Edward Hardy commented: “The Scheme is immensely proud to reach this momentous milestone of 90,000 registered sites; it is a phenomenal achievement.

“We are delighted to present Barratt London with the 90,000th Site Registration to mark this occasion. The collaboration on the Nine Elms Point site between Barratt London, Sainsbury’s and L&Q epitomises the value of working together to achieve even higher levels of performance as considerate constructors.

“Since the Scheme was first established 19 years ago, registered sites, clients, companies and suppliers have strived for ever better performance across all aspects of our Code of Considerate Practice. However, there are still huge amounts to be done, and we look forward to helping the industry raise these standards even further.”

David Parnell, Sainsbury’s Construction and Delivery Manager for the South said: “As a Considerate Constructors Scheme’s Client Partner, we register all sites under our control to the Scheme.  We are extremely proud to see Nine Elms as the 90,000th Site Registration overall – we believe in striving for the very best in not only what we do but how we do it at our sites.”

Andy Rowland, Land & Projects Director at L&Q added: “It’s great to see Nine Elms deliver the Considerate Constructor Scheme’s 90,00th Site Registration. The Scheme plays an important role within the industry in helping to drive up standards and improve the image of construction. It’s apt that one of the most transformational development sites in London, which will provide hundreds of homes across all tenures, is also doing its part to transform the image of construction.”

Click here for further information about Site Registration.

 

Dustcontrol UK strengthens sales teamDust extraction specialists

Dust extraction specialists, Dustcontrol UK, has strengthened its sales team with the appointment of Ian Giles as Sales Account Manager for systems for the Midlands and South Wales. Ian will improve the range of expertise offered by Dustcontrol UK, whilst his appointment also serves to highlight the ambitious intent of the firm as it looks to expand its operations.

James Miller, general manager of Dustcontrol UK, said: “Ian brings valuable additional experience whilst also improving on our client management capabilities. He’s ideally qualified to become part of our growing team and we’re excited to start working with him and see what he can deliver.”

Ian added: “It’s a fantastic opportunity at Dustcontrol and I’m delighted to be joining the company. My experience in this sector should serve me well to ensure that we deliver on our clients’ expectations and really help to drive the company forward as it looks to broaden its industry reach.”

Ian is an experienced and successful Sales Account Manager with long standing expertise in system sales and is aiming to help with the wider development of the business.

Dustcontrol supplies mobile dust extractors and stationary high vacuum extraction systems to help companies worldwide to achieve cleaner and more efficient production, as well as improved product quality and a healthier workspace. Ian will be specialising in system sales which will see him providing full support around complete extraction systems, filter units, pre-separators, accessories and system control.

James concluded: “We’ve had a really successful couple of years at Dustcontrol, and it’s a period that’s seen demand consistently increase. The awareness around the issues associated with dust are continuing to improve, and by expanding our team we hope to seize upon this opportunity, whilst also helping to add to the momentum of this awareness drive. We hope Ian will play a key role in this effort.”

For further information on Dustcontrol UK’s products, or to discuss your dust extraction requirements, then please phone 01327 858001 or email [email protected]

For further information visit www.dustcontroluk.co.uk

Wera: Tool Rebels or Conformists? TBH investigates!

While at Cologne ToolBUSINESS+HIRE  got the chance to speak to Martin Strauch, President and CEO of Wera and Ian Walford, MD of Wera UK. 

The perennially crowded, noisy and Gemutlich atmosphere of the Wera stand at the Cologne Tool Fair is a difficult place to have a serious chat with two important people in Wera about what makes the company tick. The two people concerned were Martin Strauch, President and CEO of Wera and Ian Walford, MD of Wera UK. Perhaps the reason why the interview worked at all was the interviewees showed enormous patience, incredible good humour and a sheer sense of mischief that helped us gain at least one key insight into Wera - namely that it is a serious company making seriously good products, yet one that doesn’t take itself too seriously. A paradox indeed, that may make more sense as we move on.

It all started as a chat with Ian Walford from the UK, who had promised us a cameo on life at Wera. He was in full flow, having ordered us food and drinks from the ever-busy Wera kitchen on the stand, when he spotted Martin, the CEO across the stand. Saying something like “You don’t need to hear it from me, hear it from the top man himself.” Martin was persuaded to join us and it was clear from the start that he was no stiff and starchy figurehead standing on his dignity, and very soon we were engulfed in a wide-ranging chat about many things – tools, Wera, invention, life and everything.

Martin’s starting point was Wera’s belief and aim that their tools “make life simpler, safer and full of joy for their users.” These are a set of company aims that underline the paradox of Wera in my view. Conventional companies might go for the “simpler and safer” bit but many would shy away from the “full of joy”, simply because its not corporate enough, or because they think that they can’t be responsible for its customers’ joy in using tools. The paradox was further underlined by the obvious expression of mischief in Martin’s face as he delivered the lines, and yet he took the work seriously too.

Some of this down to earth attitude might come from the fact that Martin is not a “business” person complete with MBA and accounting qualifications. He is in fact, a time served, qualified engineer with a profound understanding of the trades that are Wera’s customers, who understands that there can be as much creativity in solving an engineering issue as painting a portrait.

It is this creative approach that Martin says will make customers happier and “full of joy.” Wera’s approach to creativity is to be wide open to all and sundry ideas no matter where they come from.

It is fashionable in the tool trade to send out “field teams” to interrogate tradespeople about what they want and then translate these into new products. Again, with tongue firmly in cheek, Martin says that if Henry Ford had asked his customers what they wanted they would have replied that they needed “faster horses.” The point is that creative solutions often surprise a market, with consumers soon adopting the solutions on offer.

Wera’s creative approach has echoes of Steve Jobs’ mantra of “selling dreams, not products.” The new style of jet black packaging also echoes the distinctive, high quality ethos of Wera that makes the customers feel valued and proud to choose a superior product.

Martin also emphasized that Wera’s focus is relentlessly simple – “We focus on the screw,” so there is no fiddling on the periphery trying out ideas that are marginal to the Wera product offer. With a smallish team of engineers working full time on R&D, new ideas do not come only from them. All members of the Wera team are welcome to contribute their ideas for consideration. Ian pointed out that it was his idea to store the release pin of the new extension ratchet handle in the end of the handle itself and this is now in production (review in this edition)

The product design team also does a lot of work demonstrating their products at shows, thus completing the loop. They not only get to meet the customers who are hopefully “full of joy,” but may also pick up ideas that could lead to further developments.

Martin also had an interesting take on manufacturing. He argues that if Wera had a forging plant for instance, it would feel obliged to use the plant for production. But this might limit the possibility of exploring other manufacturing methods that may be needed to realize a range of new products. For this reason he told us that Wera is never constrained by production methods. As long as quality can be guaranteed, Wera is happy to outsource production, even outside Germany, in its search for tools that “fill us with joy.” This approach can have its downsides too, as sometimes the search for an appropriate manufacturing partner can take a long time, thus slowing the launch of a new product.

It was very clear from the reception and attitude of all Wera staff that not only do their tools try to “fill us with joy”, but they also enjoy working there. Martin confirmed that staff turnover is minimal and all are on board with the prevailing ethos.

Customers too, have their own joyous outlet for ideas and expression. Wera users are encouraged to join the Wera “Tool Rebels” website where they can share their own sensible, inventive, odd or eccentric ideas for using their tools as well as expressing their passion for the Wera philosophy.  Again, this creates a great feedback loop for R&D, and becomes a forum for problem solving and idea sharing. The kind of feedback that companies pay valuable money for, and it sure beats focus groups.

So, next time you buy a Wera product, you might have a bit more of an insight into what goes into it – another loop completed, and yet still the same Wera paradox applies: - a fun company with serious products? Or a serious company with fun products? Or do they both exist?  

To read Peter's Wera Reviews, click here.

For more information on Wera Tools, please visit www.wera-tools.co.uk.

C.K Are Preparing for a Prosperous 2016

 

By Graham Godfrey- Brand Manager at C.K tools for Carl Kammerling International

A positive forecast is predicted for the construction industry in 2016. Demand remains strong in the sector and the government is committed to construction and infrastructure programmes[1], which will take time and manpower to deliver. 2016 is a year for tradesmen to invest in quality equipment and processes, creating a solid platform with which to capitalise on this optimistic projection.

The need for quality equipment cannot be underestimated - the standard of tools used plays a vital role in the speed, efficiency and quality of a project’s completion. Substandard, outdated tools impact negatively upon productivity, and can result in a shoddy finish on a job. Tradesmen should invest in the toughest products to withstand the demands of a building site. Purchasing products that have a long lifespan is also cost efficient.

C.K tools is constantly monitoring and assessing the needs of the industry in order to develop new tools for professional use. The company works closely with a dedicated group of professional tradesmen to understand better how they work and what they need from a tool.

Through this process, we have witnessed a rise in popularity of impact drills among our focus group, where tradesmen expressed a need for robust impact bits that would offer improved performance. A drill is one of the most popular and versatile elements of a toolbox, the bread and butter for tradesmen. The rise in multifunctional power tools has been significant in recent years, so much so that power tools comprise 85.5 per cent of the market, with drills making up the largest share at almost 40 per cent. However, without the best quality screwdriver bits, getting the job done efficiently is not guaranteed.

Addressing key issues that affect tradesmen and providing the right solution in terms of products is essential. We understand that durability, accuracy and strength are all requirements for professional results, and so C.K Blue Steel Impact Bits have been manufactured from exceptionally tough, specially formulated V8 alloy steel, providing a vastly extended working life compared to standard screwdriver bits.

With impact drills combining much higher rotational torque than traditional drills, the C.K Blue Steel Impact Bits feature torsion control technology to withstand the stresses of high torque applications, resulting in less bit breakage, which can delay the completion of a job.

C.K Blue Steel Impact Bits dramatically increase speed and productivity on the job, offering proven performance to the trade.

As the industry expands, tradesmen are under increasing pressure to complete a job in good time to meet demand. Therefore, good quality tools are imperative for all professional tradesmen to help service a job quickly and efficiently and move on to the next. Construction is one of the largest sectors in the UK, contributing over £90 billion to the economy. As such, continuously creating innovative, superior tools that are fit for purpose and stand the test of time is fundamental to supporting tradesmen in 2016 as the construction industry continues to grow.

For further information please visit www.carlkammerling.com or call 01758 704704 

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