Being given the opportunity to lead the Federation of Master Builders, the UK’s largest trade association in the building industry, in the current economic climate is certainly a challenge but one that offers huge and exciting opportunities going forward.
I was reminded recently of a quote from Charles Darwin, who said: “It is not the strongest of the species that survives, or the most intelligent, but rather the one most adaptable to change.”
This started me thinking about the future direction of the FMB and how we ensure that we meet the needs of building companies in today’s challenging economic climate.
Clearly more of the same is not enough. The FMB, like any other business, has to adapt and change if it wants to stay ahead of the game. My appointment as the FMB’s first chief executive will, I hope, set the tone for the forward direction of the FMB.
My first task will be to appoint the new senior management team and outline the new vision for the organisation. This will involve a repositioning of the FMB in the market to transform it to become a professional trade association.
This is an ambitious aim but with increased competition from online providers such as Rated People, increasing demands from consumers for accredited tradespeople, and the cross-party political will to transform the UK into a low-carbon economy, the FMB has to think seriously about where we want to position ourselves.
Our work on an application to government to become a Competent Person Scheme operator to allow scheme members to self-certify part of their work is the start of this process.
It is not just the need for accreditation that must be achieved, because much more needs to be done to get the FMB back on the road to recovery.
With a 70-year history it is right that we now review our current governance structure, because it goes without saying that the way we live and work now is quite different from that in the 1940s.
Critically the FMB needs to reach out to the thousands of members who are not currently actively involved and get them to start thinking more about the FMB and what we offer.
Local branches offer that link between members and the FMB but we need to find new ways and means to reinvigorate them.
Social activities are often the glue that binds the FMB together but there is also a need for us to become more business focused and offer a wider range of products, training and information that SME builders needs to survive.
Going forward, a review of all our services and how we deliver them is required to make sure that our members get what they need to make their businesses operate efficiently and profitability.
The road ahead will undoubtedly be eventful but with a clarity of purpose I’m hoping our ‘pathway to professionalism’ will deliver the very best in the UK building industry.
Brian Berry is chief executive of the Federation of Master Builders