5 Minutes with Andrew Orriss

Mark Goldsmith caught up with Andrew Orriss, Non Exec Board member of the Structural Timber Association to talk about projects he is working on

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Our Head of Building Products / Construction, Mark Goldsmith, has known Andrew Orriss for a few years and given the opportunity to grab a coffee with him recently he jumped at the chance. Andrew has been an influential figure within various committees in the built environment – he was instrumental in the creation of the UK Insulation Industry round table, supported Zero Carbon Hub, was a prominent voice in helping SIG understand the ramifications of the tragic events of Grenfell and is a Non Exec Board member of the Structural Timber Association.

Here’s what they discussed:

Mark: Clearly you have been a high profile name within building products for a number of years now and have built an incredible network of contacts. Of your “peripheral” work what has been your most enjoyable project and how has it benefited the market?

Andrew: No doubt: working with Zero Carbon Hub on their suite of help documents. The Builders Book is a particular favourite of mine as it sets out to reduce the performance gap in construction. i.e. the difference between the theoretical and actual building energy performance due to simple failings on site. Closely followed by the overheating research work looking at how modern architecture and building standards are affecting summer overheating. It was shameful that the Zero Carbon Hub was disbanded with the Government's decision to cancel the zero carbon homes programme after almost 9 years of the construction supply chain developing and researching solutions to the challenge.

Mark: I hear no end from boards of building product manufactures / distributors, of the pain they endure trying to create meaningful relationships between departments. Joining up a common focus and goal is continually a major issue for firms. In my experience, this is especially prevalent across sales, technical, manufacturing and marketing. You fronted the inception of SIG360 into the wider group. You built a technically led group of people in its creation. What is the concept of SIG360 and how have you built that team cohesion?

Andrew: SIG360 is the name SIG assigned to a technical service proposition that provides customers with product selection assistance in energy conservation and building regulation compliance. The team of 15 specialists is split into 6 customer facing business development managers and 9 internal engineers that provide much of the value engineer’s expertise. Having managed a technical team and sales teams in the past it was very clear from the outset of SIG360, a different approach would be required to get the team working as one. Each member of the team undertakes a personality profiling provided by Discovery Insights. Through this process each team member is recognised as having a type of colour energy that best reflects his or her traits and personality. In simple terms each team member shares his or her colour energy to create an environment of empathy. Its been very successful in creating a very cohesive and productive environment without the usual flash points often seen as sales people interact with technical people.

Mark: You have fronted BIM research for SIG. Every exhibition I go to speakers bang on about the need for manufacturers and the service industry to further embrace the technology – heck, it’s been around since the ‘70’s! What is your opinion on its effectiveness and uptake within the industry and what can companies do to further make advantage of it?

Andrew: There is no doubt that the construction industry has been slow to adopt information technology to improve performance and output during construction. It was in 2008 when I first realised the benefits of 3 dimension designs linked to manufacturing processes but on site, similar recognition was painfully slow. In some respects it is not entirely surprising as technology solutions are everywhere and selecting the most suitable platforms to deliver the anticipated benefits can be bewildering. During my research into BIM, which is in fact a process rather than an information technology based operational platform, the options were significant and frankly confusing. I have seen many construction companies in the supply chain keen to take market advantage by providing product data in digital form, only to fall into the data overload issues which results in overloading hardware memory that resulted in their products being removed from design models.

Digital product information is key but, as yet, the industry has not defined what level of detail and level of information is appropriate. Once the industry gets to BIM level 3, all this will be clearer but for now at BIM level 2 the simplicity of information management will do.

Mark: Largely going against the grain of many boards and executive teams, you’ve mentioned how you don’t necessarily agree with sales team being incentivised by bonuses. I’m interested to know your rationale behind this Andrew?

Andrew: In my experience providing solutions to customers is far more motivating than bonuses for a technical based sales team. The relationship with the customer, truly understanding their business and build objectives, brings with it a different kind of sales process. To provide cost effective solutions, potentially new to customers, is a sensational reward in itself. Link this feeling to the nature of the sales process which tends to be over a number of weeks, even months rather than the typical ‘order closure’ sales process’ it is easy to see that the “go for the kill to earn bonuses” mentality doesn’t necessarily prevail with a technically based sales force. To be clear, I am not suggesting money is not important, it obviously is but this can be dealt with at salary level rather than added incentive. I recently canvased the whole SIG360 sales team, which confirmed my views. In simple terms being part of a meaningful sales process working with a highly motivated team can be reward enough. I realise this may offend current received wisdom but technical solution selling is different and can be recognised as such.

About the author
Mark Goldsmith
5 min read

With 23 years of recruitment experience under his belt, Mark has spent the last 19 focused on Building Products & Construction

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