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The merchanting question

Ignorance is the curse of God; knowledge is the wing wherewith we fly to heaven.

Ask a group of random people if they know what a builders merchant does and chances are they haven’t a clue. If you’re lucky they might say that it has something to do with building, if you’re really lucky, they might pick up the fact that that’s where you go to buy building materials.

I’ve banged on about this before – my irritation with the mainstream media (and successive Governments have proved themselves just as bad) which refuses to see the construction industry in any other terms than manufacturing, large contractors and jobbing builders. By and large what “we” (by which I mean you, gentle readers) do in this sector of the industry is a mystery to many, many people. If they think of us at all, it’s in terms of actual building, or running around a yard with a broom in our hand or driving a forklift.

You don’t have to be out in a yard in all weathers. There is room for fabulous accountants, merchandisers, marketers, lorry-drivers, designers, logistics specialists as well as those with an eye for a sales opportunity. There are so many options in this industry for advancement and to build a great career, whether you start at a bespoke graduate training programme, at branch level or even as a Saturday counter or yard assistant – with or without a broom.

The BMF’s Youth Recruitment Programme is working to try and address the issue, going to schools and colleges to raise the industry’s profile and the Worshipful Company of Builders’ Merchants attended the City Livery Schools Link conference to help raise the profile of the merchanting industry to students. And I know there are plenty of merchants out there working with local schools and colleges to highlight the opportunities.

All of which brings me, in a round-about way, to the subject of this year’s BMJ/BMF Young Achiever Awards – for both merchants and suppliers under 35. If you still haven’t entered or nominated someone promising yet, then do so by filling out the entry form here – there are just a few days left to the deadline. I’ve just started to sift through some of the entries and, once again, I’m amazed at the commitment, enthusiasm and quality of the entrants.

There’s a lot of talent out there that needs nurturing, just as there is a lot of potential talent that needs encouraging into the industry.

About Fiona Russell-Horne

Fiona Russell-Horne
Group Managing Editor across the BMJ portfolio.

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