In praise of togetherness

Good fellowship and friendship are lasting, rational and manly pleasures.

The BMF Members Day was everything that an event organized by a modern trade association should be.

Networking opportunity, check;

Keynote speakers with something to say, check;

News of what the organisation has achieved for and on behalf of its members over the past year, check;

Launch of something new which will help drive business to its members, check;

A chance to have input on the next stage of development of an initiative, check;

A solution to an existing problem which is actually better or more advanced than what went before, check.

I haven’t the space here to go into the details of all these but these were the highlights, for me.

Anthony Hilton, the economics editor of the Evening Standard, was the first person to tell the industry (at the 2007 Conference in Malta) about the sub-prime mortgage market and how things could and would get worse. And also that when they did, they would do so far more quickly than anyone would believe. This was at the height of the recent house price boom, don’t forget, and many people didn’t believe him…until it happened. So his keynote speech on Tuesday was eagerly anticipated and he didn’t disappoint.

Hilton is optimistic about the UK’s ability to recover from the recession. Not quickly, but possibly by this time next year. Hurrah. Phew.

Roger Humber, on the other hand, looking at things from the housing market and housebuilding point of view, is a little less optimistic, but not worryingly so. The banks’ ability – or willingness – to lend, will be crucial in helping the housing market recover. I’m not totally convinced by his assertion that we need to regain house price inflation if the market is to recover, however. I rather thought that was one of the ways we got into trouble in the first place.

BMF md Chris Pateman and chairman Terry Parker launched the solution to what could be termed the MOL problem – the potentially more than double price increase by the existing provider of the Product Knowledge Training Modules. Knowing that such a price rise was unacceptable to members and frustrated by a certain inflexibility on the part of the incumbent provider, BMF went off and developed something rather better. In conjunction with Cortexa and NMBS, they have launched an online product training facility – the BMF Campus.

Plus, and this is the bit that I thought was really exciting. There’s a new iPad/iPhone App. Yup, it’s Find-A-Merchant. Brilliant. A way that builders can find their nearest builders merchant just by in-putting their postcode or by a GPS fix on their location.

BMF and NMBS have come together on this one so it contains details of both independent merchants and national chains, all in the interests of steering builders towards merchants and away from the sheds or other interested parties, trying to muscle in on the market. It’s still a work in progress, so watch this space as it develops.

The full stories and reports on the day will feature on this website and in next month’s publication so keep an eye out for it all.

About Fiona Russell-Horne

Group Managing Editor across the BMJ portfolio.

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