Independent Rising Star of the Year

Name: Jim Anderson

Company: Wee Jim Landscapes

Supporting Statement:

Owner of a small landscaping firm, branching out into landscaping supplies and merchanting.

Name: Tony Hayes

Company: Cowal Building and Plumbing Supplies

Supporting Statement:

Tony Hayes, Operations Director at Cowal Building and Plumbing Supplies has been nominated by Cowal MD Stewart Shaw who says:

“The reason I’m nominating Tony is that he has offered a very calm and balanced approach to all of the issues we’ve faced as an industry over the past 2 years. He has had to endure a huge amount of staff churn and the pressures of sudden staff shortages due to the pandemic itself and self-isolation etc, whilst at the same time supporting the branch manager network within the business. He is continually looking to drive the business forward through the existing network and looking at future opportunities for the overall business.”

Tony Hayes joined the Cowal business in February 2020, on the eve of the first Covid lockdown and coped magnificently with what can only be described as thrown in at the deep end. He is responsible for all things operational at Cowal including logistics, branch performance, and HR and recruitment. Tony has a background in merchanting with small to medium independents and has overcome a number of challenges over the last twelve months.

• Staff and team building: high staff churn and shortages of suitable recruits is a challenge facing every builders merchant in Britain and Cowal is no exception. As the Cowal business grew organically and through acquisition in 2021, Tony worked tirelessly to find the right candidates to fill the roles within the business, changing the way Cowal traditionally operated to get the right results.

“Cowal, as a local business, often used word of mouth and recommendation to recruit staff but, with shortages of unskilled workers, business growth, plus the pandemic, this was no longer a viable option. We decided to see this as an opportunity to change the way we did things and invested a lot of time and resources into recruiting staff.”

Using social media, for example, Tony was able to broaden Cowal’s reach and recruit high quality candidates into the business.

• Return to work: Tony handled Cowal’s return to work programme, building a package of measures from scratch in a rapidly changing regulatory landscape and helping to secure the buy in from staff and customers.

“Our staff are, without a doubt, our biggest asset at Cowal and looking after them, communicating openly and honestly, and helping them to cope with the 110% effort that the last year has required is more important than ever. I believe we have achieved that all-important buy in from our teams. This policy of transparent, regular, and authentic communication has been central to Tony’s success with managing staff and maintaining morale throughout.

• Supporting Branch Managers: key to Tony’s success has been the support and organisation of Cowal’s five branch managers. Tony spends all his time out at the branches, offering support, receiving feedback, and manging each branch’s progress. He believes strongly in setting clearly defined goals for managers and supporting them along the way to achieving them and is a great believer in small, incremental changes leading to bigger more tangible successes. Tony’s mantra is “This Friday we will be a little better than last Friday. Next Friday we will be a bit better again.”

• New Business Opportunities: Tony is continually looking to drive the business forward through the existing network and looking at future opportunities for the overall business.”

Name: Charlotte Porteous

Company: Bradfords Building Supplies

Supporting Statement:

Charlotte joined Bradfords in Honiton and immediately made an impression as she got stuck in and threw herself into every aspect of branch life. Identified as having potential, she was quickly picked within her first three years for Bradfords Fast Track to Management program designed for those who are seen as future leaders of the business. Charlotte’s cheery disposition, professionalism and time for others are remarkable in one so junior, and she has rapidly climbed the ranks, now leading stock and operational process at our flagship branch in Yeovil.
The head of business process at Bradfords said: “Always a beaming smile, never afraid to ask questions, wants to understand how processes work in full and provides great feedback towards further efficiencies. She’s taken initiative with inventive and opportune ideas around removing bad stock from branch and has made some great suggestions that other branches will be able to imitate.”
Charlotte excelled on the Fast Track to management program, consistently ranking highly at all assessments, and delivering a superb end of course project addressing ways in which to tackle bad stock across the business, a topic set to her and her colleagues by the business directors. Her solutions were innovative, and will be implemented over the next twelve months to resolve a problem that Bradfords has wrestled with for some time. Back in branch her understanding of the financial impacts of various behaviours in the business is well advanced, and her proactive initiative prior to the last branch stocktake led to significant improvement both in the accuracy of the stocktake, and the speed at which it could be conducted.
Charlotte applies a mature challenge appropriately and consistently which sets her apart as one to watch,

Name: Edward Parlato

Company: Browns BM

Supporting Statement:

No Supporting Statement

Name: Gareth Griffin

Company: Bradfords Building Supplies

Supporting Statement:

BMJ Independent Rising Star

Gareth Griffin, Commercial Finance Manager, Bradfords Building Supplies Ltd

In these unprecedented times; environmentally, politically, economically, and socially; having access to accurate and timely information has never been more imperative.
The role of Financial Planning & Analysis (FP&A), providing business insight, is paramount in navigating through this season of uncertainty.
Gareth Griffin is the focal point of Bradfords FP&A; driving critical value-add Business Intelligence, to the right stakeholders, at the right time.
Finance forums constantly discuss the ‘Future of Finance’; with ‘Business Intelligence’ cited as the production of ‘high-quality, relevant, impartial, accurate data’.
With Gareth Griffin at the helm of Bradfords FP&A, our Business Intelligence IQ is greatly enhanced, augmenting both capacity and capability.

During January of 2015, shortly after graduating with first class honours, Gareth Griffin joined Bradfords Building Supplies Ltd as Finance Analyst.
Roll forward to November 2019 and Gareth becomes the latest alumna of Bradfords distinguished training and development programmes, completing his Level 7 Professional Accounting Apprenticeship.
Gaining the coveted designation of Chartered Global Management Accountant in January 2020, Bradfords promote our rising star to Commercial Finance Manager.
This year sees Gareth join the 2022 cohort of the celebrated Bradfords FastTrack to Management Scheme.

Over the last 12 months Gareth has engaged in numerous strategic projects, with a summary of key contributions below.
– Harnessing Gareth’s advanced data modelling capabilities, Bradfords have been able to accurately calculate the impact of inflation. With his data model being adopted by the BMF as an industry benchmark.
– Providing the data insight to inform Bradfords strategic business review of trading hours, culminating in extended opening times on both weekdays and weekends.
– Enhancing Bradfords customer segmentation; enabling Bradfords to align thoughtful retention, and award-winning reward strategies, to the appropriate customer segmentation.
– Finance lead for Bradfords eCommerce; illuminating channel profitability as Bradfords enhance their digital proposition.
– Integration of market leading FP&A software within Bradfords financial cycles; further augmented data driven strategic planning.