This next blog post in WCoBM’s #BuildACareerWithoutLimits campaign focuses on how the building materials sector can offer young people a lifelong, worthwhile and enjoyable career, and talks to Liveryman Edward Naylor of Naylor Industries about how the business supports and encourages its people.

Building a Lifelong Career

With political and economic uncertainty dominating the headlines, young people are increasingly seeking out careers where they can make a real difference, with work that is fulfilling, enjoyable and rewarding.

The builders’ merchant industry is one that many young people are unlikely to consider, either because it’s a sector of the construction industry that they’ve never heard of, or because they mistakenly believe it only offers physical careers working on construction sites.

The Worshipful Company of Builders’ Merchants’ nationwide ‘Build a Career Without Limits’ campaign is seeking to change that, raising awareness of the opportunities that working for a builders’ merchant or building material manufacturer can offer. The campaign targets school, college and university leavers, as well as those who are thinking of making a career change, helping them embark on a career where they can develop new skills and reach their potential. It also provides funding for training and development to those who already work in the sector, encouraging them to seek new career opportunities while staying within the industry.

Many builders’ merchants and their suppliers support these goals, and already display them within their own companies. One such business doing exactly that is Naylor Industries, a manufacturer of pipes and concrete products.

Chief Executive Edward Naylor is the fourth-generation of his family to run the business, which is based in Barnsley, South Yorkshire. Although he grew up around the business, he didn’t originally plan to enter the industry himself, choosing a City accountancy career instead.

It was only when his father, the previous owner, died suddenly in 1993 that Naylor took over the family firm, aged 30.

“The business was initially in poor shape, so those early years were all about keeping the show on the road,” Naylor says. “But we survived, and have made steady progress over the last 25 years, by diversifying and launching new products to the market, that we sell through builders’ merchants.”

In fact, Naylor has done more than just survive – it has quadrupled in size and, today, the company has an annual turnover of £55 million, with more than 400 employees across five UK sites. Naylor Industries also conducts business internationally, with products being sold into 65 overseas markets.

So, despite not planning to enter the industry, does Naylor have any regrets about coming into the sector?

“Certainly not,” Naylor says. “I’m passionate about British manufacturing, and it’s been really exciting to see our products being installed in some of the UK’s most iconic buildings, such as the Shard and Wembley Stadium, as well as being used in infrastructure schemes across the country.”

Above all, Naylor credits the friendliness of the sector and the close relationships between suppliers and merchants for why he has enjoyed his career so much, and why he has stayed in the industry for so long.

“I’ve had a lot of fun over the last 25 years,” he says. “Many of our customers have become personal friends, and that’s typical of the relationships between builders’ merchants and manufacturing companies right across the supply chain. We work together as partners to develop sales of our products, and we’ve got fantastic longstanding relationships with most of our key merchant stockists.”

Career progression and flexibility

Like many companies across the industry, Naylor Industries works hard to support its staff in their career progression, to recruit new people, and to make the company an exciting and fun place to work.

The company has a successful apprenticeship scheme to bring school leavers into the business, and a management trainee programme which sponsors young people through their degree courses. The business is constantly investing and innovating and an active training programme helps existing employees develop the skills and abilities necessary to support this. Naylor is one of few companies to have been awarded the prestigious Gold Investors in People standard – a testimony to how hard it works to help support its employees.

Some mistakenly dismiss the building materials industry as a potential career because they think that you have to know about the products and markets already, in order to be considered for a role. This is not the case, however, as many businesses look for attitude and enthusiasm above all else while recruiting.

Naylor says: “In most cases it doesn’t matter if you don’t have a particular expertise, the main thing is attitude – we want people who are enthusiastic and keen to learn. We don’t need world experts in pipes or raw materials, as we can help you develop that knowledge.”

Those who join the industry will discover opportunities for long-term, varied careers for people with a wide range of interests, where they can learn valuable transferable skills. Naylor Industries for example met the interests of a group of young employees interested in environmental issues by forming a Green Team, which has worked hard to reduce the company’s carbon footprint and made a real environmental difference.

As well as the more physical jobs on construction sites, factories and in merchant yards, companies in the building industry offer a phenomenal range of roles in areas such as finance, marketing, personnel, IT, and customer service – all of which are vital to a business’ continuing success, and which are easily transferable to other companies and career paths.

“Our industry offers really good opportunities to progress,” concludes Naylor. “Most companies in the sector are not afraid to promote from within, and there are always opportunities to advance. Nor do people get pigeon-holed into one department. Within Naylor Industries, for example, we have a sales director who started as a wages clerk, and a marketing manager who started as the office junior, and there are many examples of people who have progressed from one department to the other.”

Naylor Industries is just one example of the many forward thinking, dynamic firms in the building materials industry that believe in developing their people, and which can offer lifelong, dynamic and varied careers.

To find out more about how you or someone you know can #BuildACareerWithoutLimits in our sector, go to www.wcobm.co.uk/about/build-your-career. Watch the full interview with Edward Naylor at www.wcobm.co.uk/videos