Coventry business leader recognised for outstanding leadership

The leader of a Coventry-based trade association, which represents a multi-billion pound industry in the UK, has received a national accolade for his pioneering approach to leadership.

John Newcomb, the CEO of the Builders Merchants Federation (BMF) won the Group Leadership title at the TAF Best Practice Awards, held in London.

The accolades – supported by the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy – recognise, reward and promote best practice amongst trade associations in the UK.

The BMF represents a significant part of the national economy.

It has 684 merchant and supplier companies in its membership, who have combined sales of £31.4 billion and employ more than 128,000 people – while the value of the building materials market overall, at £56 billion, represents approximately one third of the total construction industry in the UK.

Linda Cavender, Chief Executive of the Trade Association Forum said: “The judges felt that John has developed a highly capable team to serve the interests of the rapidly growing membership.

“A whole raft of initiatives has been introduced, which have broadened the organisation’s relevance and appeal, and this has added real value to the membership.

“His leadership has proven to be exactly what the organisation needed in order to rectify a financial deficit and in the process, broaden member engagement, professionalise training and promote best practice within the industry.

“John leads from the front and is highly visible in the industry. His determined approach has been key to his organisation’s success and recognition of this is well-deserved.”

In John’s seven-year tenure as head of the BMF, the trade body, based at Elliot Court in Coventry Business Park, has grown from 324 members in 2012 to 684 members in May 2019.

The association has developed a clear training and opportunities programme for members, giving staff in the building materials industry a clear career route, from apprenticeships through to foundation degrees.

It is also taking the lead in providing innovative solutions, through its membership, to help de-carbonise homes, including energy-efficient, low emission and water-saving measures, to support the achievement of sustainability goals nationwide.

This approach is in line with the Chancellor of the Exchequer’s announcement in March that a new Future Homes Standard will be introduced to end fossil-fuel heating in new homes by 2025.

John Newcomb, said: “I am absolutely thrilled to receive this award.

“It’s a reflection of all the hard work the team and our members put in to make the BMF a success.

“Our members benefit from being in a sector with robust prospects, while the scope and scale of the industry means there are plenty of options for people to develop, learn and excel, and join an exciting community that offers excellent opportunities.”

The BMF also engages with the charity sector, raising more than £220,000 in the last two years for good causes including Variety, the Children’s Charity – and works with other partnerships to support the well-being of members, in areas including mental health.

International horizons have also been broadened, with John elected President at Ufemat, the European Association of National Builders’ Merchants Associations and Manufacturers, in October last year.

James Hipkins works closely with John in his capacity as the West Midlands Chair of the BMF.

James, MD of Midlands-based Emery’s Builders Merchants, said: “This award represents a massive achievement.

“John’s style of leadership has unified and inspired many people across the industry.

“His work has helped to give shape and direction to the industry sector, which plays a significant part in the UK economy.

“The BMF supports not only financial interests, but provides opportunities for many, is looking to the future in terms of the environment and sustainability and creates a culture of giving something back through support for charity and good causes.

“We are delighted to see this approach recognised at a national level.”