For our latest Q&A we spoke to Andrew Archbold, our Export Manager to talk about his role, his career in the building products sector and the changes he has seen during more than 30 years with Catnic.
Can you tell us a bit about your role?
I am responsible for all export markets and customers with the exception of France and Germany where we have General Managers. With Catnic products sold in countries worldwide, my role also requires me to travel extensively to visit our international distributors and support their efforts in the local market. Part of this is visiting the distributors’ customers and the consultants working on major projects. Getting to meet with the people selling, specifying and installing our products gives us a good insight into the needs of customers in each country.
Tell us a bit about your background. How did you come to this role?
I started my career in the builders’ merchant sector and after 14 years I joined Catnic in January 1989 as Area Sales Manager for South Wales. This grew to include Hereford, Worcestershire and Gloucestershire. After 11 years with Catnic, the opportunity in export arose and I moved into my new role in June 2000. The last 19 years have been an exciting and very much enjoyable time as we have seen Catnic go from strength to strength in markets all around the world – adding different products to our portfolio.
What changes have you seen in that time?
Catnic has undergone a number of changes, both as a result of shifting economic circumstances and a transfer of ownership. The last 12 years have been a period of stability for us and in that time, we have experienced a lot of success.
The market we operate in has also changed, for example we have witnessed a trend of smaller groups of merchants merging to become larger organisations to realise the business benefits. Plus, there are now more routes to market and channels of communication with the customers than ever before. Importantly, the customer focus, and therefore the direction of new product development, has also shifted. For example, structural performance was previously the key consideration for lintels, however with energy efficiency a crucial part of any new building’s design, the thermal properties of a lintel are now just as important.
What is the part you enjoy the most about working for Catnic?
Contributing to the success of such a well-known and trusted industry brand as Catnic is very gratifying and so helping to win new business is of course high on the list. However, I really enjoy spending time in the many different markets where our products are sold and meeting with our distributors’ sales staff. I’m able to use what I have learnt and experienced during my years at Catnic to help them maximise the opportunities in their market.
What are you most proud of?
It is difficult to choose, however, I’m proud to be part of the team that brought Catnic back to being a profitable and a successful company after the business experienced some difficult years during the recession in the early 1990s. From a sales perspective, it is achievements like securing a contract for the first major housing development in Cardiff bay, known as Windsor Quay, in around 1994 and seeing the growth of our export markets in Kuwait and Ireland that I am proudest of.
What are you looking forward to in the next year at Catnic?
Looking ahead there are many opportunities for us to introduce customers to all we can offer. For a company built on innovation in steel lintels in the UK, it might come as a surprise that in some other markets, customers aren’t really aware of our lintel range and we are perhaps better known for our plasterers’ products.
It is also an exciting time for Catnic with our new MD, Jonathan Clemens taking over from Christine Wilde, who had led the business for more than a decade.
With Catnic celebrating 50 years, what do you think the next 10 years will look like for Catnic?
50 years is a significant milestone and a testament to the strength of the business. Catnic has proven it has the ability to change and adapt to meet the challenges and opportunities of the market. This will be crucial as both the construction industry and the way we work continues to evolve over the next decade. Global factors such as climate change, technology and growing urban populations will all shape how new buildings are designed and constructed. I expect Catnic’s product range will continue to expand and change in response, supported by the same level of customer service we have also strived to deliver.