Lee Gillman, Mannok’s Sales and Marketing Director, has recently been named a Top 100 Supplier Influencer for the builders’ merchant sector by two reputable organisations who represent the industry, the Builders Merchants Federation (BMF) and Builders’ Merchant News. Lee is one of the first top 100 supplier influencers to be announced and he will receive an award at a special event next year.
Nominees were put forward by different buying groups and the Top 100 Supplier Influencers were selected due to their active involvement, presence, charity and community work, and commitment to the industry as a whole.
In this interview, Lee tells us what this prestigious recognition means to him, and how his career progressed from being a young professional on the BMF Youth Training Scheme to now being a Director of one of the industry’s leading manufacturers and suppliers of building products.
How did you feel when you found out you were named a Top 100 Supplier Influencer for the builders’ merchant industry?
I feel very honoured. There are many people in the Top 100 Supplier Influencers list who I have looked up to for many years, so being among them is a privilege.
Why do you think you have been selected as a Top 100 Supplier Influencer?
I enjoy this industry and I enjoy working with the people. As well as developing opportunities and partnering with our customers, I have also made some great friendships over the years.
Have you ever received any other professional accolades like this in your career?
Only one and it was also recently. I was invited to join the Worshipful Company of Builders’ Merchants, a fantastic livery that does so much to support the industry’s charities and members.
Can you tell us about your career journey in the construction industry, from your initial introduction right through to your role today as a Director of a leading supplier?
I left school and joined a family run builders’ merchant, in the southwest of England, as a Yardman. I was on a programme run by the BMF under the then Youth Training Scheme (YTS). It was a fantastic grounding opportunity for me. I had the chance to work through different areas of the builders’ merchant and I took every training and development opportunity I was offered.
After several years of working in this builders’ merchant, I was then offered a Sales role at a timber supplier. This move marked the start of my career in Sales, which I’ve now been working in for 36 years, incorporating technical, specification, contracting and management responsibilities.
My role at Mannok came my way by accident really. I was out of work for a short while and was actively looking for the next step in my career. When I was being interviewed by another Irish building product manufacturer, I met an ex-colleague who was working for Mannok and we got talking. I was initially offered a temporary job for 6 months at the company, and here I am nine years down the line as the GB Sales and Marketing Director.
Did you always aspire to become a director?
No, I didn’t, but I always aspire to do well in whatever I am doing. I believe, if we do our role to the best of our ability and stay loyal, we are usually rewarded. And when that reward or opportunity arises, we are likely to be in a good place to pursue it.
What is it like to work as a Director for Mannok?
It is exciting, I have a voice in the management team, which is important, and I also have autonomy. Additionally, due to our multi-product offering, there are always good times, tough times, and opportunities.
Is there anyone who influenced and inspired you when you first joined the industry?
I have been lucky to work for/with so many great people that I have respected and looked up to, but when I worked for Ruberoid, my manager, John McMichael, was a complete gentleman and an inspiring professional. Sadly, John is no longer with us, but he taught me so much, including how to manage my team, my peers, and my customers. He respected everyone and had time for everyone no matter who they were, which I really admired.
What do you like about working in the construction industry?
We look after each other. Our industry is about the people, which has been more evident than ever in recent times. The people in this industry are of course great businesspeople, however, when we experience tough times or personal losses, we support each other, and as I come from a family of builders, this is evident not just at supply level but also at site level.
How important are builders’ merchants to the industry?
I believe the word ‘important’ is too weak, builders’ merchants hold a crucial place in this industry, and they are often undervalued for the service they provide. Builders’ merchants frequently face huge pressure from builders, who are sometimes traditional and a little unorganised but great craftsmen, to have materials and certain quantities available in their yards, which is often unrealistic for both builders’ merchants and suppliers. Here at Mannok, we are grateful to all builders’ merchants for the work they do and pressures they face to support our industry.
MORE DETAILS ON THE TOP SUPPLIER INFLUENCERS HERE