Taking up the managing director role for SIG UK Exteriors, Chris Lodge outlines to RCI his commitment to the role, the business and ultimately, its customers.
Despite all the gloom about the economy, since taking on the role of managing director of SIG UK Exteriors this year, I’m increasingly excited about potential opportunities that exist in the roofing sector.
The growth plan we’ve put in place has seen SIG decentralise the management of its roofing branches by empowering local branch managers. It’s an approach that will enable them to fully focus on their customers through enhancements to their product ranges, enabling them to provide tailored solutions and services that best reflect the needs of individual customers, whatever their size.
What’s more, this year will see SIG invest in branches with upgrades and enhancements to the merchandising range to enable contractors to pick up more products in-branch.
At the same time, to enhance SIG’s customer focused strategy we are planning to open new SIG Roofing branches. More branches mean more face-to-face contact with our contractor customers, which is important if we are to provide targeted product advice and customer support while pipelines for work currently remain positive in the near term.
This upbeat message is reflected in latest State of the Roofing Industry survey from the National Federation of Roofing Contractors (NFRC) and Glenigan [Nov 2022], which reported positivity about the roofing market.
The survey’s dominant narrative, however, is that obtaining suitably skilled labour is becoming harder for contractors, making it a challenge for them to take on more business.
Our response is to tackle the skills shortage by supporting industry initiatives aimed at making the sector more attractive. One aspect of this support is the contribution of product to the NFRC for use in the annual SkillBuild contest, otherwise known as the ‘skills Olympics’.
Training the next generation
Delivered by the CITB to support training in the sector, this initiative is the UK’s largest multi-trade construction skills competition for trainees and apprentices. The benefit to SIG in helping tackle the skills shortage in the roofing sector, albeit in a modest way, is that it helps increase the focus on training while giving trainees the opportunity to familiarise themselves with the numerous quality roofing products available from SIG Roofing merchants.
SIG is also trying to encourage success in new, start-up roofing business by giving them credit facilities, albeit at the discretion of individual branch managers. This is one of the many values we bring to the industry to support new talent entering the sector. What we hope for in return is that we’ll be able to build a relationship with these businesses based on mutual trust and loyalty.
In the long run, the skills shortage will only be resolved through people, products and providers working together. So, alongside contributing products to the NFRC, SIG is also working with our suppliers to be able to offer roofing contractors training and technical support in renewables. We see this as a potentially huge opportunity for our contractor customers and are keen to support their ability to capitalise on it.
The soaring cost of energy and the growing need to help reduce carbon emissions is increasing interest in the installation of photovoltaic panels (PVs) on the roofs of homes and offices.
A PV system capable of generating a useful amount of electricity will comprise several panels, and may cover a significant proportion of the roof surface. We want to be a sustainable enabler by helping to give contractors the skills to install both the roof covering and the PV array attached to the roof. As such, we’re proactively working with our suppliers to be able to offer training in PV selection and installation to contractors interested in getting a toe-hold in this relatively new space.
SIG is also working on enhancing its sustainable product offering. In the future, we hope to be able to offer an ‘energy envelope’ based on our core products. This will feature solar PV, insulation, fenestration and potentially other cladding and waterproofing elements to enable contractors to provide solutions that deliver an enhanced sustainable solution.
Ultimately, SIG UK Exteriors is about helping roofing contractors develop their business for the future through both training and technical support. After all, roofing is a great industry to be in whether that’s as a contractor or as a merchant supplying that contractor.