The future of the builders’ merchant industry came together at the Builders Merchants Federation’s Young Merchant Conference.

The event took place at the NEC, Birmingham during UK Construction Week as part of the BMF’s 110th anniversary. A host of expert speakers joined senior BMF members to discuss the future of the industry and share insights into taking businesses to the next level.

The event was hosted by writer Kevin Parr, and the first speaker was Sheri Hughes, UK Diversity & Inclusion Director at PageGroup. She talked about the importance of workplace diversity and encouraging people from all walks of life to share ideas and experiences with one another. She urged delegates not to be afraid of finding out their businesses demographics – everyone has to start somewhere and it can be the first step towards addressing diversity in your company if you find it lacking.

Next up was John Cremer, who delivered a talk on reading people and explained the categories of personalities, based on Greek gods, which he believes everyone fits into. He also gave celebrity examples of the character types, and helped delegates to understand how to deal with different types of characters in their everyday lives most effectively.

Key figures from the industry including Peter Hindle MBE, BMF Chairman, Andrew Harrison, Deputy CEO of the Plumbing and Heating Division, David Kilburn, Executive Chairman of MKM Building Supplies, Steve Durdant-Hollamby, Managing Director of Alumasc Water Management Solutions, and David Grace, Sales Director at IG Lintels. They each told their career stories and then took part in a Q&A session hosted by Parr, where audience members had the chance to pick the brains of industry veterans.

Olympic medallist Steve Backley OBE was next to take the stage, and he shared his tips for success and self-belief that he learned during his career as a javelinist. These included finding your passion, and surrounding yourself with talented and empowering people.

Finally, keynote speaker George Clarke, a TV presenter and architect, spoke about some of his most challenging and rewarding construction renovations. He emphasised the need to find ingenuity in speeding up the construction process to ensure that we build enough houses. He then told delegates about his charity, MOBIE, which trains and inspires young people to build homes in an innovative way. The day closed with a summary from BMF CEO John Newcomb, and delegates moved on to a night of fun and networking at a nearby bar and casino.