Martyn isn’t one for titles or formality. He’s the MD at County Building Supplies which has grown from a “two bloke, one van and a passion to get things done” start-up with his mate David Lloyd in 1987 to a highly successful business group of 6 companies serving 10 locations throughout the Midlands. Starting out as a building merchant the business now has specialist services for Kitchens & Bathrooms, Heating & Plumbing, Renewable Energy and, their latest business, an online car detailing supplier. Customers get free delivery if they are within 20 miles of any location (Cheltenham, Coventry, Droitwich, Evesham, Malvern, Monmouth, Nuneaton, Tetbury).
The secret to his success is, according to Martyn, running the happiest builders’ merchant in the world. He’s a firm believer that work should be fun as well as business, calls all his staff on first name terms and directs operations in an informal manner. Staff are all treated with the same respect whether they are the newest member or the longest serving area director. He’s not averse to playing the odd practical joke on fellow directors and identified with being the naughty boy at the back of the classroom in his youth. Today he still enjoys working and has absolutely no plans to retire. Fridays are his work from home days but he’s still very ‘hands on’, making good use of his tablet to stay in touch with email and calls. He won’t thank you for a formal introduction either, no MD title is required, he’s just introduced as “Martyn from Malvern” whenever he’s visiting one of their many sites.
Martyn has a knack for getting on with people and immediately makes you feel welcome when you meet him. He loves being a company rep on the road so much that he still goes out every Tuesday and Thursday meeting new customers and catching up with his ‘friends in business’. This week he’s exchanged garden plants with a customer during his visit. Martyn readily acknowledges that his world is price competitive and the business is a member of a larger buying group to ensure their prices are kept as competitive as possible. It’s not all about a direct cost comparison and County Building Supplies will make every effort to get a part out to a customer quickly because they understand that a contractor doesn’t want to be kept waiting several days. This means, unlike some of their competitors, his trade customer won’t have to pick up a hotel accommodation bill because the item isn’t available the exact day he needs it. In his immaculate showrooms, customers are welcomed, given specialist advice and help with their project, and shown the best products for them to achieve what they want whilst getting good value out of their budget.
What’s so impressive about County Building Supplies is staff loyalty. The average length of service in the business is an incredible 18 years! Because he’s created this happy and productive working environment, Martyn has never had a problem with either staff recruitment or retention. He’s proud that one member of staff who joined the business as a ‘Saturday boy’ remembers their progression from their first pay cheque to being promoted through the ranks up to Director level. Taking the initiative is encouraged, with the newest service, car detailing supplies, being run very successfully online by one of the newest and youngest on the team.
Within the industry Martyn is obviously well liked and respected, and he’s on the Board of Directors for his Commercial Buying group, as position he owes to the votes of his fellow members. Martyn admits this is useful for the business as he always has the ear of another MD or Sales Director whenever necessary. It’s his belief that he works in a friendly industry, he recalls a conversation with an economist attending one of the annual trade events and contrasting the friendly welcome with another trade body where hardly anyone spoke to him.
Martyn is very happy to sponsor Mark Smith with his Mental Health Marathon. Martyn’s comments about Mark are that he’s almost too nice to be a bank manager and is always available for a chat, even if this is in the evening. He says Mark always reacts promptly to what he wants, really understands what he wants and will sort it out, fighting his corner if necessary. Martyn continues to expand the business, which he has managed to do consistently through good economic times and recessions, so he appreciates having a good banker on his side. In the pipeline are plans for new sites in Hereford and in Tewkesbury, which I’m sure will be staffed by more of the friendliest people in the business!