The NFRC’s National Annual General Meeting (AGM) took place on 2 October at Manchester United’s Old Trafford stadium, and included a talk by ex-England and Manchester United player, Dion Dublin.
Results of the members vote
Following a postal and online voting campaign, the following resolutions were passed:
NFRC Board Directors were re-appointed: Steve Revell; Kevin M Taylor; Mark Mitchell; Andy King; John Elmore; Richard French; Stuart Lennon; Colin McCorquodale; Gordon Penrose; Andrew Rowlands; and Richard Soan.
RPG Crouch Chapman were re-appointed as Auditors until the end of the next AGM.
Strategy & Policy – the way ahead
Chief Executive James Talman also set out the future NFRC strategy in the following speech:
Over the past the past four years the NFRC has undergone a period of considerable change, with the fundamental objective being the positioning of the Federation as a professional body, representing the UK roofing and cladding sector. The NFRC aspires to be the one voice for the sector under which other roofing specialists trade bodies wish to be formally associated. In turn, the NFRC sits as the leading contributor to the main umbrella bodies for the construction sector namely Build UK and the Construction Products Association.
A key part of this modernisation has been the restructuring of the organisation, with the sole purpose of providing a higher value membership offer, leading to higher retentions and a positive message for future recruitment of members. In addition, the governance has been updated to reflect the transparency of contemporary not for profit bodies.
Separately, the organisation has taken great effort to start to engage actively with industry stakeholders including specifiers, standards bodies, insurers, and building owners to help them see the value of the guidance and knowledge that the NFRC can provide, as well as supporting them by promoting our members for their quality workmanship on associated contracts
The NFRC has a well-established programme of promotion, which continues uninterrupted as it reshapes its market position. This creates great opportunities, but also provides challenges during this transitional period, as greater publicity clearly leads to greater demands.”
Membership Retention and Recruitment
A complete review of existing membership benefits is in progress, which will lead to clear conclusions to ensure the membership offer is relevant and sustainable. As part of this programme the NFRC is investing heavily into digital infrastructure, which will help to provide a means to segment its benefits to members rather than a one size fits all approach.
The consideration of these overall policies is vital. The heart of any membership organisation is providing optimal service to its members.
During this research period, the organisation is looking to have a more active approach to recruitment, in a sector which is dominated by micro businesses.
We believe the offer needs to be carefully considered to meet the demands of these crucial contributors to the UK economy, who have the least time for dealing with legislation and other challenges of running a small business.
As highlighted below, a crucial part of the NFRC strategy is in the promotion of its policies and services to stakeholders across the built environment. This is an area that historically NFRC has not concentrated on, but we believe is essential to not only member retention but also membership recruitment.
Experience has shown with limited exposure that the NFRC is a tried and trusted organisation when it does engage with such groups.
“To ensure that all these strategic objectives described are fulfilled will require a minimum period of three years to be fully established and requires the patience and support of not just its members but also the wider roofing community to ensure sustainable success.”
Strategy - 8 Key Focus Areas
- Policy & Advocacy
The NFRC is the largest and most established roofing trade association in the UK covering all roofing disciplines within its membership. It is committed to be the industry spokesperson on behalf of not just its members, but the broader roofing community. A key role therefore for the organisation is in development of macro-policies, which affect not just the roofing and broader construction industry, but general enterprise. Matters relating to transparent and fair payment, contract conditions, prequalification to tender, tax and levies, and environmental impacts are areas of current focus.
The whole UK construction sector has recognised the need to change its practices and behaviours, and the NFRC has an important role in supporting and delivering that change.
- Health, Safety and Environment
Health, Safety and Environment, is a primary consideration in our policies and standards for the promotion of the sector. The welfare of our workforce will always remain the most singularly important consideration. Current projects include the production of a new Health & Safety ‘passport’ for installers, best practice for Short Duration Working - a common cause of accidents, mental health awareness and available support, with specific reference to the often solitary aspects of working for the small trader. Product specification has been revised with guidance on the difference between permanent and temporary edge protection following changes to the BS/EN standard.
Our strategy to reduce the environmental impact of the sector within construction is based on encouraging the use of low impact new materials, using recycled content or secondary material, designing out waste and reducing construction impacts.
As part of its professional offer to members and stakeholders, the NFRC has a multitude of good guidance and standards. Work continues towards looking to ensure that these are relevant, up to date and meeting the requirements of an ever-changing market. The scrutiny of building regulations and product standards following the Grenfell tragedy places even greater importance on the NFRC in providing clear and informative guidance to our members.
Current publications released or due to be released in 2019 include updates to existing guidance documents BS5427, BS5534, BS6229, Safe2Torch 2, safe working. The first in a series of roof installer manuals, in this case Sheeting and Cladding is nearing publication. This is scheduled to be followed by Reinforced Bitumen Membranes, Rainscreen Cladding and Tiling. Over time the objective is to have a whole suite of publications covering all roofing types.
The method of delivery for all material is also vital to its impact on the market. Content needs to cover all digital platforms relevant to members and stakeholders. This includes BIM and other forms of visual and data communication.
Member quality and compliance
In addition to the high standards of application and product advice, the NFRC is committed to ensuring its membership deliver the highest standards of workmanship on site. As part of the conditions of membership, all members are subject to tri-annual inspections. These are important in demonstrating to the market that our members are assessed, and in turn provides benefit to members through the promotion of that third-party scrutiny by their trade body.
With the market showing clear signs of moving towards greater regulation and scrutiny this is a crucial part of the membership offer and great attention is being placed on ensuring its optimum quality.
The NFRC launched its UKAS competent person scheme, CompetentRoofer, in 2012 which is open to both NFRC and non NFRC members. Through its UKAS accreditation to ISO 17065, it provides a strong platform of independent assurance through its level of compliance requirements and regularity of audits of projects and members. This should be the benchmark of all audit and compliance processes within the NFRC and provides an excellent foundation for building the Federation’s influence.
Individual roofer quality and compliance
The recently launched RoofCERT accreditation scheme (in partnership with the CITB) for individual roofers is being mapped and developed in line with ISO17024 and is to be added to scope with UKAS. This scheme aims to provide added assurance of quality of installation to both members and their customers. The ambition of the scheme is to get to the level of recognition and acceptance of similar schemes in the electrical and gas industries for example.
By concentrating on a triangular approach to quality related to products and methods of installation, and company and individual proof of competencies, the NFRC is laying the foundations for an industry that will demonstrate clear professionalism, a joined-up approach and attractiveness for new entrants.
- Membership retention – adding value
All these activities clearly require considerable investment in time and resource. To support and maintain subscriptions that are affordable to smaller member enterprises, the NFRC has established a commercial subsidiary to help supplement its core membership income, with the purpose of helping to promote the brand, invest in technical resources and digital infrastructure. It also allows the federation to provide a platform outside of the sector to further benefit the membership.
A membership survey will be carried out in the autumn of 2019 to gather detailed feedback from all member types. This will cover membership benefits and their use, marketing communications activity and national and regional interaction. The analysis of this will be used to inform our ongoing engagement strategy. New items that are scheduled for release in 2019 include issuing of an electronic Member Information Pack and a Membership Directory to be issued to all members, stakeholders and specifiers.
An expert in online search optimisation has been contracted to raise the organisation’s online profile with emphasis on the ‘find a member’ section. The results of this campaign will be carefully monitored and targeted. We have also introduced a feature for building owners to promote their proposed contracts for our members to register their interest.
Through our technical services division, we have made great strides in building relationships with external stakeholders which clearly brings benefit to members. This is happening in a variety of ways through government and local government agencies, regulatory bodies and public and private clients. NFRC’s expertise is also being used to assist clients on assessment of defective work by non-members and on future works.
The NFRC is repositioning its educational and charities fund to aid and assist those who have fallen on hard times within our membership, as well as to encourage those from disadvantaged backgrounds to enter our industry through training support and by practical volunteering, demonstrating our social values to the broader construction sector.
This programme is due to be launched in early 2020 following the appointment of new trustees to guide this programme.
The roofing industry like others in construction is faced with great challenges in attracting new entrants in a very competitive labour market.
The awarding of RoofCERT to NFRC places major obligations on the organisation to help to recruit and retain new entrants and to provide a long-term sustainable workforce for the sector. The opportunity and challenge are to bring together all strands of the current training infrastructure with a common ambition to deliver the RoofCERT scheme, whilst at the same time examine innovative pathways to attract new talent.
Initial work has centred on the launch of www.RoofCERT.co.uk, with regular content updates including video and social media materials featuring early adopters and success stories.
A collaborative project with post graduate students in 2020 from the University of Creative Arts Business School Surrey, will look to highlight roofing as a career choice for young people aged between 16 and 25 years. The work includes looking at what works well in unrelated industries.
In addition to its responsibility to help to attract new talent, the NFRC needs to ensure that it is at the forefront on innovation in the sector. This needs to play close attention to practices that improve safety and health for installers, improve efficiency and quality, and that also show the sector is committed to the environment and climate change. Roofing and cladding are well placed to be a leading contributor in the built environment through examples such as energy generating materials, slowed drainage into groundwater, pollution eating products and proven sustainable reusable materials.
Initial focus is on wearable technology as an aid to training and improving onsite installation quality.
- International links
Whilst the NFRC is fundamentally a UK-based organisation, it recognises that the world is a highly connected and accessible place. It is important that the Federation seeks to influence and support other parts of the world, in particular where the UK has strong trade links and historical relationships.
The NFRC seeks to play an active role in membership of the IFD, and this is highlighted in our hosting of the IFD International Congress in Edinburgh and with the appointment of Past NFRC President Graeme Millar as IFD President, both in 2019.
We seek to develop collaborative agreements with individual national associations through mutual interests, and to pursue opportunities for our members who also focus on offering their services and products internationally. We also wish to ensure the talent of young UK roofers is recognised on the world stage through the IFD competition (the next scheduled for Beijing in 2020) and potentially WorldSkills through our involvement with UK Skillbuild.