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This article is a guest contribution from Earl & Calam Design and Build Ltd and has been published with permission.

This article is about Earl & Calam Design and Build Ltd's membership of the FMB, what we get out of our membership, how the FMB encourages, supports and helps us to improve our service and our business model, and why we wouldn’t hesitate to recommend membership to other contractors.

Earl & Calam Design and Build Ltd first joined the FMB for the same reason we imagine many others do: to use membership as a trusted badge of quality. We hoped that our membership would reassure our present and future customers as to the standard of our professional commitment. And it has worked. By getting our profile among vetted and independently checked contractors, our customers have more confidence in us and feel safer that they won’t be let down or ripped off in the hackneyed but sadly all too common way. But the reason for writing this article is not just to talk about membership as a good marketing tool, but to talk about how much more we have discovered through our membership of the FMB, and how invaluable it has now become to growing our business.

What started out as an idea simply to expand and reassure our client base has, through the FMB’s other products and services, become about how we learn, grow and improve as builders, and about how we can play an active role in our industry. It is about how membership of the FMB helps us to meet the challenges we’re all facing now, while also giving us a platform for shaping our industry’s future.

For a start, we were surprised to learn about a whole host of useful services that membership gives us access to. For example, at Earl & Calam Design and Build Ltd we now exclusively use the FMB’s plain English standard form contract for all our projects and since switching, have found our clients happier, more comfortable and feeling better informed. Not only that, but we have actually saved money through using the FMB’s insurance policies.

Since joining we’ve also been taking advantage of a whole range of training courses and professional development opportunities − a diploma in retrofit coordination, a historic buildings course with the National Trust, a seminar on CITB funding and one on house building finance. They have all been great fun and very interesting, but there is no doubt they are also helping us to become better builders. These courses are inspiring us to find new ways to learn and develop our business, so that we can off er a better service to our customers.

We have sometimes felt as if being an honest builder in the UK is a very lonely business and it’s exhausting enough just getting through the week’s problems of profit and loss without thinking about some of the larger issues on the horizon. Through its articles and seminars though, the FMB helps us stay up to date with changes in legislation, research, or economic news that may affect our business. As the largest trade association in the UK construction industry the FMB acts on one level as a kind of support club. A place where builders from all over the country can share information and ideas, not only about the problems some of us are facing now, but also about how the industry can move forward and meet the challenges we’ll all face tomorrow.

Through membership, Earl & Calam Design and Build Ltd has had the opportunity to get involved with issues that we really feel passionately about. Issues such as the shortage of skilled labour and how to inspire better, smarter young people to join the construction industry; the growing and little-understood problems around the mental health of construction industry workers; and the threats posed by climate change and how we as an industry need to work to meet our environmental responsibilities. As a trade association the FMB gives us a useful platform for discussing and learning more about these and other issues, it then lobbies for us at local and national level to make our voices heard in government on the matters that affect us most.

All in all, Earl & Calam Design and Build Ltd have gained enormous positives from the last few years’ membership of the FMB and we’d encourage any small-to-medium sized building contractor to join too. We never thought we’d become as involved as we have, but as time has gone on we’ve found more and more opportunities to be a part of something that’s not only helping us to become better builders, but also to be a part of the discussions over where our industry is heading. FMB membership means much more to us than just a badge.

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