Capturing MP interest.

Primarolo pays a visit to Kellaway

Published:  27 April, 2011

BRISTOL: Dawn Primarolo, Deputy Speaker of the House of Commons, paid a fact-finding visit to Kellaway Building Supplies' Ashton branch last week.

The Builders' Merchants Federation-arranged meeting saw award-winning Kellaway, a leading independent builders' merchant, welcome the Deputy Speaker and Labour MP for Bristol South to its busy site.

Ms Primarolo learned about the company's plans to strengthen the family-run business. She also saw how the merchant trade is helping voters to improve the thermal performance of homes and businesses in her constituency.

Branch manager Matt Hodge also explained how the £16m turnover merchant business invests in its staff through an ongoing programme of management and career development and sales and customer service training.

Kellaway are past winners in both the training and customer service categories of the annual Builders Merchants' Awards for Excellence. The branch also houses the company's dedicated product training centre.

Mr Hodge, pointed out to the MP how investing in on-site training means Kellaway can equip staff with higher levels of product knowledge to give customers informed advice and better service. The merchant also runs courses for local builders and plumbers to come in and learn about new products, enhance existing skills, and gain new ones.

Praising the success of Mr Hodge and his staff, Ms Primarolo said: "Matt Hodge and his team are doing a great job, despite testing times. I was especially keen to see their in-house training, and hear how staff acquire practical knowledge of the products they sell. I congratulate Kellaway managers for sticking to their commitment to train and develop both their staff and trade customers."

Kellaway, Mr Hodge reported, has seen a resurgence of home improvement work. This, he believes, is tackling the under-investment in property. It is also helping to revitalise Bristol's economy.

"There is pent-up demand in most types of housing – a demand which has been restricted by a lack of confidence and economic uncertainty," he said.

Mr Primarolo also heard Kellaway's industry view on how merchants can help politicians with their policy priorities. One example was the success of the Boiler Scrappage Scheme which was introduced by Ed Miliband when he was Labour's Energy & Climate Change Secretary.

She was told how a 5% VAT rate could revitalise local repair, maintenance and improvement activity and informed about the BMF's 'Plan B' to make the case for jobs and growth after last month's Budget announcement.

Kellaway's operations director, Sean Morgan, shared some of the latest thinking: "I pay tribute to our workforce who make the business what it is. Without their knowledge, hard work and loyalty, Kellaway could not continue to offer our customers a first-rate service," he stated.

"Central to our future is helping people to have energy-saving work done to cut bills and save money. The last two winters were the coldest suffered since we began trading in 1982. For this reason alone, efforts to help voters in Bristol to improve the thermal performance of homes are essential."

Kellaway sponsors the Bristol Green Doors project that seeks to persuade local people to carry out energy-saving makeovers by hearing directly from others who have completed such work. The project managers organise open days for the curious to go inside other people's homes to see for themselves what can be done to improve various housing types.

"Peer-to-peer advocacy is a strong trigger to act, because Bristolians see work done to homes like theirs, by people like them," said Mr Morgan.

"The evidence from the Bristol Green Doors project shows high numbers of visitors subsequently decide to have better insulation fitted and replace or upgrade the heating and hot water system. The key is to have work done in the right sequence to optimise the savings and benefits, and protect the time and money invested."

Shown in the picture are: Chris Parker, Kellaway''s sales and development manager, Dawn Primarolo, BMF policy manager Brett Amphlett and branch manager Matt Hodge.

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