Ecotecture teams up with Parkers Building Supplies
Since moving to Haywards Heath Ecotecture have been working on forging links within the community to aid our vision towards a low carbon economy. As a result we are acting as consultants to Parker Building supplies who are building up an advisory role for contractors wanting to go green. See http://www.parkerbs.com/green-issues
Accordingly Parker Building Supplies has dramatically increased its investment in the provision of sustainable products and services this year. Its main focus has been on awareness via on-line marketing, supported by a company-wide training programme, to ensure that staff are prepared for dealing with eco-related questions from customers.
Parkers are Sussex and Kent’s leading independent builders merchants. The company has now grouped all of its eco endeavours under one banner; Green@Parkers. This new brand encompasses the provision of renewable and sustainable products, plus a recycling service, and promotes energy conserving logistics via its low-emission, fuel-efficient fleet of vehicles. These are the first big steps on the road towards a broader and more holistic sustainable offering, according to Parker’s financial director Stewart Pierce, who adds: “We’re looking to position ourselves as a solutions provider”.
One of the key drivers for this investment is the rapid growth of the ‘green’ market. The sector is expanding much faster than any other in the now recovering construction industry, and all indicators point towards an even greater surge of activity over the next 12 months. Ecotecture believe that sustainabilty is the key to continuing growth coming out of recession.
Another factor behind Parker’s endorsement of sustainable products and services is Pierce’s involvement in a BMF renewables ‘Think Tank’ which convened early this year. This involved discussions between merchants, suppliers and industry representatives which resulted in the BMF’s Sustainable Conference in January and the introduction of a renewables training course available through the BMF. 40 members of Parkers’ staff have already undergone two training days with the National Energy Foundation via the BMF. The company then brought in individual suppliers to carry out half day product training courses for the same personnel. As a result they now have a large group of people armed with an impressive degree of knowledge about a number of sustainable products with a dedicated office for green issues within the organisation.
Parkers say that the biggest challenge is getting people to accept the changes necessary to take the sustainable offering to the next level. “We are still going to be selling bricks, blocks, timber, aggregates, bathrooms and kitchens etc, but this is a new and wide-ranging technology and we have to embrace it. We’ve done this in the recent past by means of the sophistication added to our IT systems and on-line selling for example. In addition to seeking out the right suppliers for its sustainable product lines, Pierce claims that Parkers have worked hard to identify other routes to market through construction companies with specific ‘green credentials’. One such, is a firm of specialist ‘eco-architects’. “They are a firm whose sole remit is to provide drawings and information for eco projects. They simply don’t undertake any other form of building or planning. We have produced posters which are now on display at their premises which advertise the link between our two companies”.
Parker’s green development started a few years ago with a simple web page which set out the company’s commitment to trading responsibly, reducing carbon emissions and working closely with the local community. The company then introduced a recycling service which enables them to handle a broad range of materials, from light bulbs, glass and electrical equipment; to wood, cardboard and plastics. The company invested in cardboard compactors at all locations and Pierce says that this has also proved to be a good community-minded investment. “It’s all about improving housekeeping and efficiencies within the business. From an eco viewpoint, it is very positive. It’s what we should all be doing, and it also makes good commercial sense.”
Parkers aim to be even more socially responsible and to continue to make improvements as the years goes on. Transport manager Graham Lillywhite says “the company’s fleet of vehicles uses Euro V engines, one of the most efficient engines available for commercial transport and we also regularly review our logistics to ensure that delivery routes are planned both efficiently and effectively, and that of course minimises emissions.
The other priority is to continue to improve the knowledge and advice available to customers via its sales staff. Pierce says that at the moment, staff are still having to answer a lot of general questions about sustainability.
“The general builder has customers who are asking him for sustainable products and he has to be up to speed with Building Regs and other legislation. He has to be aware, but he relies on the merchant to be a key source of information. We are making sure that when he comes in to ask questions our staff can pass on as much knowledge as possible – providing him with the solution”. This new link with ecotecture means we have access to expert advice in the field, an advantage we intend to pass on to our customers.