But the power of hoping through everything, the knowledge that the soul survives its adventures, that great inspiration comes to the middle-aged.
According to the latest Markit CIPS survey, construction growth is at a 10 month low. Not great news, since all the Brexit hoo-ha is hardly likely to make the economy any more stable any time soon.
Most concerning, is that it the housing side that is leading the slowdown in growth – although it has to be pointed out that, at 54, the index is still above the critical 50 point, below which things are getting decidedly worse.
So, hunting through the inbox to find some good new to counteract the rather dismal economic outlook, I found some.
There’s the annual Superbrands listing, of course, which once again features Marshalls, Jewson and Dulux, but I was rather more taken with the press release that slipped in almost under the radar regarding the 1000 Companies to Inspire Britain.
The 1000 companies to Inspire in an initiative by the London Stock Exchange to pinpoint those companies who are growing very nicely and doing what they do to the best of their abilities, an getting the financial results to how it. Or, to put it the way the Stock Exchange does: 1000 Companies to Inspire Britain is an annual celebration of some of the fastest-growing and most dynamic small and medium-sized enterprises in the UK. As well as identifying 1,000 companies, the annual report examines in detail the opportunities and challenges facing SMEs and looks at the sectors and trends that will shape the future of the UK economy.
All very noble, but what sparked my interest was the number of builders merchants that have been picked up this year.
Yes, real, actual, living, breathing builders merchants have been recognised by the financial establishment. I’m always harping on about the fact that our very important section of the supply chain is often overlooked in favour of the sexier ends – the big building companies and main contractors and, to a lesser extent, the manufacturers.
So, step forward and take a well-deserved bow: Buttles, C&W Berry, GH Brooks, Hughes Forrest, JT Atkinson, Parkers, Williams Trade Supplies, Duttons and Thorncliffe Building Supplies. Only four of whom are big enough to fit into BMJ’s, admittedly not exhaustive, Trailblazers £20m+ turnover listing and all of whom are showing serious commitment and growth.
I think I should also flag up John Brash, Raiser, Wrekin Products and Natural Paving Products on the supplier side who have also made it onto the Inspiring list.
It’s heartening to see that this part of the industry is, at last, getting some of the recognition that it deserves. So big congratulations to all involved at these companies.
My only concern is how differently the companies are categorised. Maybe it’s down to how the firms themselves set their categories, but Williams Trade Supplies, Wrekin Products, Natural Paving Products, Reisser, John Brash, Duttons and Thorncliffe are all counted as ‘Wholesalers’. Parkers, Buttles, C&W Berry, GH Brooks and Hughes Forrest, on the other hand, are all listed under Building and Landscaping Services’. JT Atkinson are nestled in the ‘Engineering and Construction’ category. There is a ‘Building Materials’ category, but there’s only two companies in it, neither of whom I’ve ever heard of.
If we as an industry are going to make the most of any enhanced coverage – and we do need it because there are precious few people who leave school with the driving ambition to be a builders merchant – we need to have more of a co-ordinated approach. At the very least, we should consistently come under the right heading.