Four figureheads representing leading builders’ merchants and building materials suppliers will take part in a crucial Industry Forum at the BMF All Industry Conference in June.
The BMF has secured a heavyweight panel to lead the debate, comprising Ron Walker, MD of Heating Plumbing Supplies Ltd and Chair of the BMF’s Plumbing & Heating Sector; Stephen Thompstone, who recently stepped down as MD of Buildbase and a Director of Grafton Merchanting GB; David Hebdon, Operations Director of Fortis Merchants Ltd, the industry’s newest and largest buying group; and Richard Hill, MD of ACO Technologies plc.
Each panel member will give a short presentation before the debate is opened up to the floor with Conference host, Sharron Davies, chairing the “Question Time” session.
John Newcomb, BMF MD said: “Picking up on the Conference theme, each panel member will briefly explain how they have built momentum and focus in their respective businesses. Coming hot on the heels of a General Election, the result of which is currently too close to call, they will no doubt consider the key issues that we will all have to face over the lifetime of the new government, whichever party or coalition of parties takes power.”
“This will be another unmissable session for delegates at the biggest industry Conference of the year — which is now fully booked. Every supplier package and merchant place was sold out by the end of 2014, which is a remarkable endorsement both of the BMF and of the industry’s premier event.”
The 2015 All-Industry Conference takes place in Malta from 18th-21st June 2015 at the five star Westin Dragonara Resort in St Julians Bay and will be hosted by Olympic and Commonwealth medal winner and TV presenter, Sharron Davies.
Ron began his merchant career in 1967 as a warehouseman with Sankey’s in Newhaven, moving through the ranks to become Regional Manager before joining PTS, where he became Purchasing Director. In 2001, Ron set up HPS, Heating Plumbing Supplies Ltd with four fellow directors from PTS. As MD he has seen the business grow from its original four branches to the current 31 branches with an annual turnover of around £50m. He is one of the original seven members of the Plumbing & Heating Buying group, founded in January 2013. There are now 21 members in PHG with a turnover in excess of £350m. Ron also chairs the BMF’s Plumbing & Heating Sector group.
Stephen describes himself as a builders’ merchant industry professional who has always believed in excellent customer service, that your staff make the only real difference and that profit is not a rude word. His merchant career started after A Levels in 1980, working with Rudders and Payne in Leamington Spa, Harcros Timber & Building Supplies and Jewson before joining Buildbase in 1998 and commencing 10 years of significant growth. In 2008, he was appointed a Director of Grafton Merchanting GB, with sales of £1bn per annum, and MD for the Buildbase, Hirebase and Civils and Lintels businesses. In 2014, the company achieved the landmarks of 200 Buildbase branches, 100 Hirebase branches and 50 Electricbase branches. Stephen stepped down from his directorships at Grafton Merchanting and Buildbase in December 2014. He will continue to represent Grafton Group on the Board of the BMF until December 2015.
With 35 years in the industry, David worked for Harcros, Sharpe and Fisher, and Buildbase before being headhunted by Andrew Nicholls to join John Nicholls Trading Ltd in 2001, becoming Managing Director in 2008. During this time David took the role of Operations Director for the buying group Cemco, with Andrew as chairman, and was instrumental in steering Cemco into a collaboration with many CBA members to form a new buying group, Fortis Merchants Ltd. Now in its second year of trading, Fortis has 41 members and a combined sales volume of £1.1bn, with David continuing in his role of Operations Director for the group.
After a varied career in finance, Richard joined ACO Technologies as Finance Director in 1991 and became Managing Director in 1997. Since then ACO has grown significantly, becoming the market leading business for surface water drainage, both internal and external, in the UK and Ireland. As a result of consistent product and marketing innovation, ACO has become a key supplier to all leading builders’ merchants and an established brand within the construction industry. At ACO Group level Richard manages the businesses in Belgium and the Netherlands and leads the global surface water drainage strategy team. Outside of ACO, Richard is the non-executive Chairman of The Building Centre, a Trustee and the Treasurer of CRASH and a member of the CBI East of England Regional Council.