Swift Electrical commercial director Malcolm Scott talks about the appointment of a new national chairman for the KBSA
As the longest-serving elected officer of the Kitchen Bedroom and Bathroom Specialists Association, having worked with two CEOs and with five different national retail chairs, I feel uniquely qualified to make comment on the recent appointment of Richard Hibbert as national chairman.
Richard is young and bright and comes to the table with a wealth of new ideas. As managing director of KSL in Sudbury, Suffolk, he runs a successful kitchen studio business selling Beckermann, Stoneham and Mereway furniture with Miele and BSH appliances and Blanco sinks.
So, in many ways, Richard is typical of the retailers that he represents. However, being at the lower end of the age spectrum for proprietors, he comes from a generation that embraces social media, the web and all that is modern.
As an existing member of the KBSA board, Richard has seen the most sustained period of change within the KBSA for many years. Uwe Hanneck is continuing a bold programme of modernisation that has seen the removal of compulsory insurance and the reintegration of Renée Mascari and her NTG industry training schemes.
Richard has also had regular input into the development of the consumer-facing website, which is being redesigned to engage consumers more and to provide retailers with a stream of quality sales leads.
Over the past 10-plus years, Ruth Ward has done a great job as sales and marketing director at the KBSA, providing a degree of stability during difficult times. Her decision to move on to pastures new affords the opportunity to recruit a new director who can take the KBSA through the next 10 years of social media and rapid consumer purchasing changes.
On the wider issue of why anyone gives up their valuable time to work unpaid for a trade association, let me comment on some of the benefits that I personally have obtained in the hope of persuading one more ‘Richard’ to come forward and take up a regional chair post.
While I like to think I was given a good career, starting workplace training as a management apprentice for the Wolseley Group, being part of the KBSA has enabled me to personally develop with more than 20 public-speaking engagements and over 30 board meetings, plus the opportunity to represent the association at the AGM of two other trade associations, as well as at trade shows in Milan and Berlin.
As an employee of an appliance and sink distributor, the extra knowledge that my association with the KBSA has provided has been invaluable to my employer, with regular visits to three furniture manufacturers and regular dialogue with associated businesses, such as solid surface manufacturers – all of which has greatly improved my knowledge of the sector.
Joining a trade association, and more importantly, getting involved in a trade association, can provide very real benefits for your employer or your own business, but the involvement can also provide the opportunity to develop your own personal interests and skills.
Trade associations provide the perfect venue for family-owned businesses to allow younger members of the family to gain exposure to all parts of the industry and like-minded business people.
Get involved and see how rewarding it can be.