Trainee of the year

Published:  22 June, 2009



2007 ADAM ELWELL  EH Smith Builders’ Merchants Solihull

2006 FRED BROOKS  J&B Willbrook Dyffryn Ardudwy, Gwynedd




EH Smith Builders’ Merchants


Adam Elwell joined EH Smith through its Trainee Programme in September 2005. He was 22 and from a background in manual labour. His sheer determination and desire to succeed shone through.

He chose to establish himself in the trade counter environment, believeing that this would give him the best possible product knowledge and customer experience. He commenced an HNC in Business Management (day release) at South Birmingham College in Sept 2005.

Through hard work and dedication Mr Elwell completed this in 2007, achieving ‘Merits’ and ‘Distinctions’ throughout.

While working on the trade counter, he developed a particular interest in the landscaping materials side of the business. Encouraged and guided by the branch manager, he swiftly became a product expert in the field. Early in 2007, an opportunity became available for a Landscaping Product Leader, and although there was high response to the advertised position, Mr Elwell’s well thought-out presentation and positive interview secured him the role – even before he had completed his training programme – a first for EH Smith.

Since becoming the Landscaping Product Leader eight months ago, Mr Elwell has created and managed a new landscaping database of prospective customers, converting some into live accounts, with a potential spend of over £60,000 in the current financial period. He has driven and managed the cost-effective design and construction of two new landscaping displays at the Solihull branch.

Adam Elwell, trainee of 2007.

He not only brought the project in early, but also at more than £2500 under budget, without detracting from the quality of the construction.

He was also responsible for a growth in new cash and credit accounts, with 32 new ‘live’ accounts opening since January 2007. He proposed, planned and implemented a number of successful promotion campaigns. One sandstone promotion generated an increase of 115 project packs in four weeks – nearly £30 000 of additional sales.

Under Mr Elwell’s control, landscaping turnover has increased by 28.5%, while maintaining the same margin. This is a 12.5% higher growth rate than that of the rest of the region in the same period.




J&B Willbrook

Dyffryn Ardudwy, Gwynedd

Fresh out of university, where he had studied civil engineering, Fred Brooks was involved with the construction of a retail outlet, J & B Willbrook, a new builders’ merchants, which would also include a kitchen and bathroom showroom.

As this was a family venture, Mr Brooks opted for a change of direction and took up a position within the company, although his role at that time was still yet to be clearly defined.  

He quickly set out to apply his computer literacy skills to the task of understanding and implementing the IT systems. Single-handedly, he set up and inputted thousands of items into the price book. The company realised that without Mr Brooks’ commitment and input, trading would have been significantly delayed. 

This task, though tedious, gave him the opportunity to absorb a wealth of product knowledge across the wide range of products to be sold within this business. This product knowledge has continued to grow.

The merchant opened as planned in June 2005 and Mr Brooks, having ensured that all his new colleagues were familiar and comfortable with the systems, became involved in dealing with customers, understanding their needs and quickly grasping new information and sales techniques.

On an administrative front, he can oversee everything from carrying out the daily bankings to understanding the accounting side of the programme.

In addition, he organises the stock-take and oversees its correct entering on to the system. He is currently planning a complete re-vamp of this part of the business, to ensure greater efficiency. He can often be found tidying or re-arranging the warehouse, delivering in one of the vans if required, attending early to unload a delivery or staying late to complete a task.


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