As you will have read on pages 3 and 8 of this issue, the FMB appointed Brian Berry as its Chief Executive on Monday 5 March 2012.
Master Builder’s Editor, Nicky Rogers, spoke to him to find out more about his plans to transform the FMB into a ‘professional trade association’ and to improve the service it provides to members.
Q: How did your career progress before you joined the FMB?
A: “I started my working life as a teacher at the Charterhouse Square School in London teaching all subjects to six and seven year olds - perfect training for working in membership organisations! I then moved to the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) as a Parliamentary Officer before being seconded to Brussels to become its first Head of European Policy. Returning to London in 2000, I became Deputy Head of the RICS Policy Unit, then became the Head of Policy for Land and Construction and finally, Head of UK Public Policy. I joined the FMB in May 2007 as Director of External Affairs. “My main function as Director of External Affairs was to raise the credibility, influence and profile of the FMB. I brought the media function in-house and this was incredibly successful, increasing FMB media coverage fourfold.”
Q: There are many good things about the FMB but what is the first thing you will tackle and how do you think you will make the FMB a more modern, vibrant, respected trade association in the construction industry?
A: “The first things to address are the FMB’s mission statement and business plan. We need to have a clear idea of where the FMB is going so we can carve out a niche for our members in the marketplace. This niche must be based on raising standards with the aim that consumers will ask for a FMB builder because they know they are the best in the market.”
Q: What is your five year plan for the Federation?
A: “There are three main priorities:
Certification - FMB will submit an application to Government to become a Competent Person Scheme operator so that for the first time, general builders will be able to self-certify part of their work, avoiding the need to pay building control fees. The initial scope of the scheme will include solid wall insulation (internal and external); replacing existing windows and replacing existing roofing. The FMB wants to gradually expand the scope of this scheme so that more general building work is covered.
Governance - there is now an urgent need to reform the FMB governance. Our existing rules were created in the 1940s but the way we live and work has changed dramatically since then. We need to encourage our non-active members and we also have to clarify the relationship between our National Council and Managing Board which has become confused.
Services - there is an urgent need to review the range of services that we offer members and critically how we deliver them. I am concerned that we don’t have a dedicated technical department to provide robust and accurate technical information for members to let them know exactly how any changes to Building Regulations and legislation, for example, will affect them. The member experience from joining to renewing membership needs to be as user-friendly and professional as we can make it. Members should expect the very highest standards from their trade association. The FMB Training Department is already making great progress but we have plans to beef this up with more technical training courses for members – all part of becoming a more professional trade association.”
Q: What difference should members expect and how will this enhance membership?
A: “Members should expect to see a wider range of services that are designed to help them run their businesses more efficiently and promotional material that is delivered professionally.”
Q: Do you envisage any changes to regional operations?
A: “The FMB’s regional network which extends across the entire UK is our unique asset which we need to nurture and develop. There is a case that we need to make the branches more business focused to meet the needs of busy members. Our Regional Directors should be proactive in their approach to members’ needs in the region as well as highly visible in their respective business communities.”