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There was something missing at a recent trade show we attended. For the first time there was something slightly off kilter, a change in the tides. Maybe you noticed it too…….there was not a dollybird to be seen. Maybe that’s the wrong terminology but there were no scantily clad women of higher-than-average-attractiveness handing out jute bags, the recipient none-the-wiser of what product they were marketing. On the flip side there was a scantily clad man! Has the world gone mad? Have we as a society realised that using dollybirds is a thing of the past? Is it ok to have male dollybirds (not sure what they should be called)?
Trade shows can be a great way to increase brand awareness or launch a new product that you are bringing to market. For some large companies it’s just what they always do. They already have the brand awareness; their products are well established in the market so they just go larger. Bigger stands, lots of adverts, maybe some fun freebies or novelty items on show and eye candy to draw people in. Maybe these things work but maybe they also belittle the products they are selling. Do they also undermine their customer’s integrity?
There have undoubtedly been advances in gender equality in construction but it still remains a male dominated industry. You can see the exchanged glances when a dollybird walks past, they do seem to do the trick at getting attention for the brand but does it make a positive impact? I’m sure it is often seen as a bit of harmless fun, but for women in the industry trying to be taken seriously it can be rather disappointing.
What does it mean, then, that this year there has been an absence of women in the dollybird role but sightings of their male counterpart? Does that make it even? Does it make it ok? Should we be relying on eye-candy in any form? Definitely have fun at a trade show, bring enthusiasm about your products, talk to people, get to know your customers, listen to the feedback, the good and the bad, get yourself a good stand, one that you have thought through carefully that you can be proud of.
It will be interesting to see if future trade shows go the same way or whether this was a one-off, maybe a batch of contaminated red lipstick that took out the entire population of trade-show dollybirds or a case of dollybird-flu. Or maybe they are a thing of the past, gone for good and just another thing we’ll all reminisce about in a decade or so.
By Claire Laverty
Is a Smaller Builder the Answer?
For a long time smaller builder and businesses in the construction industry have felt somewhat overshadowed by the big main contractors who get awarded all the desirable jobs. But are the tides turning? With the unfortunate collapse of Carillion and now other large firms being put under the microscope is it more reassuring to use a smaller firm?
Looking specifically at house building, the Federation of Master Builders notes that small to medium builders had a significantly higher percentage of respondents who were ‘very satisfied’ with the work carried out. Of those who were ‘very satisfied’, SME builders had a score of 36% while the top 20 larger builders had only 17%. We know too well that a small firm relies so heavily on word of mouth and reputation to gain more work. Larger firms have a hefty marketing budget and the clout of a big brand name behind them to give them an advantage. In the David and Goliath battle of builders, smaller firms need a network of recommendations and testimonies to even the score.
So what impact has the November 2017 budget had on our SME?
Budget has seen many changes including UK growth our GDP downgraded from 1.8% to a safer tentative 1.4%
Its not all disheartening news though, employees have several encouraging changes coming their way. They will be slightly better of with an extra personal allowance of £350 before they have to pay any tax.
The upper tax band limit will be increasing by over £1000, meaning that 40% tax will not be due until they have earned £34501. These are better for the employee and bear no additional cost to the employer.
The over 25’s will also see a rise in national living wage of £0.33 per hour from April that’s an increase of a inflation busting 4% and the UK living wage is going to rise up to £8.75, up by 3.6%. With inflation running at a current 3%, this budget is definitely going to help the lower income brackets.
If partners fall into the marriage allowance, where they are both basic tax payers, they will have the option of transferring their 10% to their partner with a potential of reducing their tax bill by a further £230.00
So, what does the budget mean for us and other SME’S?
What’s on our Christmas (Autumn Budget) Wish List? With Chancellor Phillip Hammond due to release the Autumn budget on Wednesday 22 November 2017, we are waiting with fingers crossed to see if anything on our wish list comes true. As an SME in construction we are certainly feeling the strain. Living Wage, pension auto enrollment and business rate increases not to mention subsequent years of difficult trading are leaving us in choppy waters. We’ve heard that the deficit is at the lowest in ten years but are things looking up?
Our Midlands based glazing specialists firm, Howells Patent Glazing, have been a big name in the industry for over 40 years. Now, with the media awash with post-Brexit fears and expectations, we’re keen to show that the phrase ‘Made in Britain’ is more than just a marketing slogan.
We have seen a substantial increase in opportunities arising from both national and international contractors. This is particularly true in Europe. We believe that this is because people are starting to see the difference in quality when buying from British businesses. This is backed up by our glazing specialists record breaking turnover figures for the past 4 years.
Glazing specialists like ours here at Howells Patent Glazing are excited about what’s to come.
According to a survey compiled by the EEF Manufacturers organisation, British manufacturing remains strong. With exports on the up as UK trade continues to receive a boost from the weaker pound, an improving global economy is ahead of us. The value of the pound falling has made quality, British manufactured products more affordable for overseas consumers. This boost to the manufacturing industry has already reached the likes of glazing specialists Howells Patent Glazing as we completed our first project in Spain this year.
Tracey Jackson, marketing manager at Howells Patent Glazing said, “We have noticed a definite upturn in the level of enquiries from both the UK and Europe. I think that ‘Made in Britain’ is now less of a marketing slogan and more of a reality for a lot of manufacturers like ourselves. When people buy British goods, they are buying a high quality product. Consumers are not only buying a rooflight from Howells Patent Glazing. They are buying into our glazing specialists businesses ethics of training, quality assurance, rigorous audits, safety tests and people’s futures”.
Howells Patent Glazing aren’t the only ones seeing an increase in demand in European markets.
The same survey notes that 61% of manufacturing firms state that they have seen an increase in orders. The added issue of higher import prices is another deciding factor on where people are putting their business. UK households are starting to move towards British made goods and services. The EEF have revised their forecasts for factory outputs for 2017 and 2018 to 1.3% and 0.5%. This is an increase from 1% and 0.1%.
Tracey Jackson concluded, “We are excited about the shift in patterns in our economy. We’re looking forward to a positive 2018. As a 40 year old, family run British manufacturer, we want people to love our business and its products as much as we do. We aren’t a big business – so every employee matters. Every project, big or small is important to us, and it all comes from the heart of the Black Country. We’re excited that consumers are starting to value the quality of British goods. I hope that this trend is here to stay”.
For more information on Howells Patent Glazing, the British glazing specialists, please visit www.howellsglazing.co.uk
Howells Patent Glazing, our family run manufacturing firm with over 40 years’ experience, are on their way towards another record breaking year with the help of some very high profile contracts. Our already impressive list of prestigious projects include: the NEC, Millennium Point in Birmingham and Albert Docks.
As Howells’s service is bespoke to each project, our product can be adapted during the design stage to incorporate a unique set of parameters. This could be dual colour (one colour outside and another inside), which in itself could be matt, satin, specialist RAL, mill finish or anodised. Whatever the specification and needs of the client, Howells’s dedicated and experienced team are able to work with each client to ensure their requirements are met from start to finish.
Previously, as an example of a company that goes the extra mile for our clients, Howells were able to specifically redesign their HGR1 glazing bar so that a new, glazed structure which they had created for Alton Towers would blend in to the theme park’s existing orangery.
Tracey Jackson, Marketing Manager at Howells Patent Glazing said, “Our clients are diverse. They range from lord of the manor though to celebrities and to public procurement departments. We are really excited to be working together with some incredibly high profile contracts. We gained accreditation from RISQS this year, which means that we have the ability to work exclusively on rail related contracts too – this is a massive boost to our sales team. We exhibited at the FIT Show in the spring and we are excited to see what the rest of this year will bring for Howells Patent Glazing”.
Our Black Country firm have adapted our internal systems over the years, and continue to move with the times. We’ve also dedicated ourselves to plugging the skills gap within the manufacturing industry by providing training for every member of staff and taking on apprentices and work experience pupils every year – great news for our Midlands based business, as we go from strength to strength within the industry.
For more information on Howells Patent Glazing, visit: http://www.howellsglazing.co.uk/
With the costs involved in moving house endlessly increasing, and the stress involved in doing so being no secret, it is no surprise that so many people choose to extend or modify their homes rather than sell them. Our experts have put together their top tips on how to really add value to a home before deciding whether to sell up, or stay put.
- Loft conversions
Loft conversions have the potential to add around 10% to the value of a home. However, letting in daylight could be a problem unless rooflights are installed, careful planning is a must.
- Going underground
Underground extensions are becoming more popular, particularly in London where space is tight and the market value can support the high cost of excavating under a home. Underground rooms do not need to be dark and gloomy – it is possible to harness natural daylight by fitting a walk-on rooflight flush with ground level, letting natural light flood in to the area underneath.
- Kitchen extensions
An open plan kitchen/living area is a great way to bring everyone together, but the danger of extending kitchens is that they can often result in long, dark spaces where the light struggles to get from one end of a room to the other, leading to a reliance on stark artificial lighting. Consider installing mono-pitched glazing along with bi-folding doors. This not only lets light flood into the room, but also gives a much larger feel to the space.
- Bathroom updates
The humble bathroom window isn’t often recognised as something that is useful, or needed, but there’s nothing worse than stepping into a room that feels like it was an afterthought. Then there’s the potential for mold and bacteria clogging up corners and windowsills. Letting in natural light could be the answer to solving this – most diseases, including chronic respiratory problems, are often associated with bacteria and fungi built up in damp areas. Did you know that sunlight is considered to be one of the best natural disinfectants?
- Make the most of what you’ve got
Natural light is one of the most appealing lights, and is used by most interior designers to showcase a building in all of its glory. If restrictions apply to buildings and planning, consider getting an expert in to show how to ‘daylight’ a home. It can be a difficult technique to get right, but when it is used correctly it encompasses all of the above benefits whilst showing a building in its best light!
Howells Patent Glazing have an expert design team who help architects and builders alike to make the most of glazing systems and natural daylight on their projects. With 40 years’ experience, and three record-breaking years behind them, the team are hoping to spend the next 40 years delivering professional, trusted and creative solutions to the UK’s glazing industry.
Everyone is talking about apprenticeships and NVQ’s at the moment, but how can that help you and your business to prosper? We have looked at what they can do for your business, how you can access funding to lower the impact on the balance sheet and how everyone can benefit from planning for success.
Our business is based in an area of the UK with the highest levels of inhabitants without any qualifications. The construction industry is facing a skills shortage which is likely to deepen post-Brexit. So what do we do? We keep doing what we have done for the past couple of years…..we offer every single one of our employees the opportunity to develop themselves through NVQs or apprenticeships. With eye watering tuition fees, access to a university education is not necessarily an option for school leavers nowadays. More and more are looking for employment and a way to reach their potential without mounting thousands of pounds worth of debt, but are employers now feeling the pressure to fill the educational vacuum that tuition fees has created? Offering training is an expensive gamble – time away from normal tasks, added pressure to employees, resources required to offer those opportunities are not easy to come by for an SME. So is it worthwhile?
We have been working closely with our local, Dudley College, for the past 3 years to offer every member of our workforce the opportunity to develop their skills. The vast majority have taken up the offer meaning that around 90% of those at Howells Glazing are developing their skills through us in one way or another. We recognize that investment in our people builds a loyal and motivated team and obviously by developing our staff they become more skilled in the workplace which is a direct benefit to us. We recognize however that there are downsides to this too.
It would be foolish to ignore the added pressure people can feel when plunged back into a classroom environment, or perhaps haven’t had to sit an exam for decades (although exams are not compulsory). This can be unnerving and something to give consideration to. Also there is a great deal of time away from normal work duties which can have a short term impact on productivity. However we feel strongly that by investing in our workforce in an investment in the company and the local community. Based in the West Midlands it is perhaps important to note that this area has the highest level of inhabitants with no official qualifications compared to the rest of England and Wales (around 18% of people with no qualifications according to the Office for National Statistics in 2014). An NVQ at level 3 is accepted as being equivalent to A-level and level 5 equivalent to a foundation level degree. When you consider that the average student graduating from university is burdened with between £35-£40k of debt it is easy to see the appeal of working for an employer where you can gain qualifications that will benefit you through life and also earn at the same time.
Many employers might be nervous about offering such qualifications in case those employees gain one and then leave. This is of course a possibility and no investment is without its risk, but we feel that our employees feel more valued as a result of being offered the opportunity to study while at work. Let’s not overlook the obvious – our workforce are becoming more skilled as a result.
So is it worthwhile? There is clearly an appetite for NVQs from employees, otherwise why would 90% of our staff jump on board? NVQs can be tailored to the individual employee and to the relevance of the employer making it an ideal win-win. We have benefited from an upskilled workforce and observed an upturn in staff engagement and motivation. Yes there is the risk that an employee may gain a qualification and leave, but there is a greater possibility that they will stay.
How to get a job in construction – the demand for skilled laborers with solid employability skills is becoming more prominent. We’re hoping to help more young people into the profession in a bid to plug the domestic skills shortage gap.
Here are some interesting statistics if you are wondering about how to get a job in construction. The construction industry in the UK accounts for 2.6 million jobs and it is expected to expand by 3.3% over the next five years. What’s more, according to recent RICS figures, an exit from the single market could mean that the construction industry will have to fill the void of 176,500 EU workers that the UK currently employs.
Tracey Jackson, marketing manager at Howells Patent Glazing said, “The UK’s exit from the single market will put even more pressure on companies like ours to recruit and train our domestic workforce. The construction industry will need to recruit 178,700 additional people over the next five years to fulfill the Annual Recruitment Requirement (ARR) of 35,740. We have always made investing in our staff a priority for our business and we’re really excited at the prospect of helping to train a whole new generation of skilled laborers.”
We have put together a handy tip sheet below to show you how to get a job in construction:
- Decide on which construction career is right for you.
The first thing you need to do is decide which construction career interests you. If you’re not sure, you can use resources like the Careers in Construction Career Finder to help you narrow down your options. Also have a look at the different Types of Construction to get a better idea of what career to pursue.
- Get to know your chosen career
Once you know what area of construction interests you, call local construction companies and see if there are any job sites which you can tour, or call some local unions and ask if they can put you in touch with a journeyperson in your chosen trade, so you can ask them about what their job entails. Speaking to people in the industry and to learning what their field of work is like will prove invaluable, and is a sure fire way of deciding whether it’s the career for you.
- Once you’ve decided on a career in construction, you need to decide on which route of training you’d like to persue:
- Register as an apprentice and combine on-the-job training with in-class learning.
- Enroll for post-secondary training at a university, community college or a technical institute.
- Or, find a job as an entry-level construction worker and learn the skills you need on the job.
We see our continuous investment in staff as an enrichment programme, to ensure that every member of their workforce is satisfied in their job role, and is able to obtain the relevant skills needed to remain ahead of the pack within the manufacturing & construction industry. We regularly take on young work experience pupils in the hope of inspiring a new generation into the construction industry.
If you’d like to know more about Howells Patent Glazing, visit our homepage – www.howellsglazing.co.uk