Tag Archives: Mark’s Mental health marathon

Aardvark Marketing Consultants | Marks mental health Marathon, Jeremy Houghton event 4

Jeremy Houghton art exhibition supports Marks Mental Health Marathon

Jeremy Houghton art exhibition supports Marks Mental Health Marathon

Aardvark Marketing are proud to sponsor Marks Mental Health Marathon. This week, Mark Smith is delighted to announce that renowned local artist Jeremy Houghton will be exhibiting his latest works of art at Webbs of Wychbold on Thursday, 17th October and donating a percentage of his sales to the charity, Mental Health UK.

Aardvark Marketing Consultants | Marks mental health Marathon, Jeremy Houghton event 1“Jeremy and I were friends at school and have known each other for over 30 years” says Ed Webb, “so of course we’re very pleased we can help Mental Health UK by hosting this exciting fundraising event here at Webbs.”   As a large local employer, Webbs takes the mental health of its employees seriously, with a variety of support available for all staff. Webbs have just been recognised with an ’Excellence in Wellbeing Award’ through the Great Places to Work scheme.

 

Aardvark Marketing Consultants | Marks mental health Marathon, Jeremy Houghton event 2Jeremy Houghton is a British painter whose work attempts to capture movement and journeys. With a career marked by contrasting experiences and places (he studied in France and then worked for a number of years in South Africa), as well as a long-standing commitment to the countryside, Houghton’s work spans a broad spectrum – from the arresting drama of dynamic sports to the ever-changing patterns of migrating flamingos.

 

 

 

Aardvark Marketing Consultants | Marks mental health Marathon, Jeremy Houghton event 3Since he began to paint full-time in the mid-2000s, Houghton has divided his practice between creating standalone pieces in the studio using reference photographs and sketches and producing work via documentary residences. Over the last ten years he has been invited to detail the life of a number of high-profile communities, from those at Windsor Castle and Highgrove to last year’s Wimbledon championships, and the competitors at the 2012 Olympics and Paralympics. Last year, inspired by the centenary of the RAF he sketched former airmen from WW2. With each of these projects Houghton is interested in getting beyond public perception, documenting instead the everyday scenes that characterise an event or place.

 

Aardvark Marketing Consultants | Marks mental health Marathon, Jeremy Houghton event 4Although Houghton’s focus ranges quite widely, his technique remains a constant. Emphasis on painted shapes of light and space, (or unpainted paper with his watercolours), contrasting against areas of liquid colour enables his subjects to shimmer in the liminal territory between figuration and abstraction. With extraneous detail removed, the paintings are also hard to place, giving them an ahistorical quality that serves to underline their fluidity.

 

Aardvark Marketing Consultants | Marks mental health Marathon, Jeremy Houghton event 5Houghton continually explores the potential of negative space to represent light, and often references ma, the concept in Japanese aesthetics that translates roughly as ‘gap’ or ‘pause’, and which in traditional practice helps balance the relationship between different areas of an image. This focus on the space between things lends his paintings, even when they are of something as solid as a horse or a racing boat, a surprising delicacy. Houghton holds his subjects on a very thin, almost invisible line between motion and the ability to transcend time.

 

Marks Mental Health Marathon was started by Mark Smith of Lloyds bank, who is raising money for Mental Health UK to allow them to support more people going through challenging times with mental health issues. He is organising a series of local seminars for business owners to learn more about the practical steps they can take in their business to support their teams should they encounter someone in need of help.

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Aardvark Marketing Consultants | Meet co-sponsor of Marks Mental Health Marathon Rev Dr Rich Johnson

How can I serve? Meet co-sponsor Rev Dr Rich Johnson

How can I serve? Meet co-sponsor Rev Dr Rich Johnson

The Rev Dr Rich Johnson talks about modern ministry and mental health

Aardvark Marketing Consultants | Meet co-sponsor of Marks Mental Health Marathon Rev Dr Rich Johnson

 

 

 

 

 

The parish of All Saints at the heart of Worcester city is one of the oldest in the city.  It now uses two buildings. St Helen’s, a 15th century church building occupies a site used for worship since Roman times. You may have seen the scaffold wrap artwork on the High Street earlier this year, part of a Heritage Lottery Fund project that enabled much needed stonework repairs to be made. All Saints on Deansway is the historic parish church built into the city walls in Norman times.  Worship services are now held in both buildings. Although the buildings are steeped in history, there is absolutely nothing old fashioned about this very modern pastoral team with it’s drive and enthusiasm for creating social support in the community.

The church is now one of the largest in the Diocese of Worcester, not only with many adults, but welcoming students, teenagers and children into the community. After the second world war many of the houses in the parish were demolished, scattering the previous community of dockers and porcelain workers and their families, so the congregation fell. Today the church, with its own distinctive style of less formal, contemporary worship, has gone from strength to strength.

Rich brings his own leadership style to his role, heading up a team of “brilliant” and committed individuals, whether they are volunteers or staff. He describes his methods as “equip, envision, empower and release”.  He’s currently supporting Mark Smith of Lloyds Bank to give back to the business community as well as raising money for Mental Health UK. Mark has set himself a target for fundraising but also important to him is that business leaders and managers in his area know more about Mental Health issues and have some clear guidance to follow if necessary. It was at one of these seminars for business that I met Rich, who had come to both learn more from the speakers and to support Mark and his project. The seminars address practical steps such as how to spot potential problems in their own teams and how to provide the right supportive working environment to minimise the impact on that individual, their colleagues and their families.

By supporting others, All Saints seeks to serve the Worcester community in so many ways. A key question Rich asks when evaluating how the church is developing is “If we shut down overnight, would the city miss us?”.   Increasingly, the answer is yes.  Rich and his team work with people who have the vision, commitment and passion to succeed and help them with practical support to get projects started and developed. In this way the church set up and now runs the Worcester Foodbank, Worcester Street Pastors, supports homeless people, those fostering and adopting, schools, colleges and individual students with mental health resilience courses. The Foodbank even provides necessities such as school shoes and toys for birthdays and at Christmas to children whose families would otherwise genuinely struggle to get by.

The list of organisations where Rich and his team are known and respected is large and includes the County Council, local schools, Worcester Community Trust, Worcester BID, local business leaders, local MP’s, local police etc. By building networks across these organisations, the church is collaborating with others to help achieve something that is both worthwhile and makes a real difference to local people. Rich sees his role as a trusted partner not only to listen and participate but also to challenge. He talks to me about Desmond Tutu, who said “There comes a point where we need to stop just pulling people out of the river. We need to go upstream and find out why they’re falling in.” Because the Church is uniquely placed to talk with all these organisations, it’s able to bring its in-depth, local knowledge of the causes of the issues that adversely affect individuals and their families in modern life. This understanding allows them to ask the ‘awkward’ or ‘brave’ questions of politicians and civic authorities so that their decision making is better informed.

For so many people in need of social support networks, poor mental health is a common denominator. Rich works hard to listen and understand why so many people, not just our students, teenagers and young people are struggling. It’s clear that social media and the pressure of growing up in the public eye has much to answer for. Rich talks about digital addiction, hyperconsumerism, eating disorders, self-harming issues, anxiety and depression and believes it’s this central issue of defining our identity and who we are for ourselves that is important. We almost need to learn to define ourselves and our worth in society without constant reference to how we appear to others online. He plays a very active role in listening to youngsters, works closely with local schools, colleges and universities and some of his team actively provide support and counselling to help youngsters understand themselves better and be comfortable with their identity.

Striking the right balance between being helpful and being a prophetic challenge can be difficult and it’s possible for the public, outside the church, to dismiss the role of a church because it is often perceived as judgemental or interfering. Rich believes that to help someone you need to be there in the same room and to accept that no-one person or organisation will have all the answers. Their role is to offer some solutions, invite people in and become a part of the answer. For example, by listening to many young people who come to an individual drop in, he can give anonymous feedback to a school leader about issues that could be part of their Personal, Health and Social education (PSE) syllabus. Young people are therefore getting a chance to explore and learn about something that has affected or will affect them or their peers, so they are better prepared for the future. The team also talk to parents, for example by providing workshops helping parents understand how to help their kids navigate the digital world safely or attending a parents evening at a school. It’s exploring and implementing these very practical steps that have transformed this ministry.

“The first step to helping is to be empathetic” says Rich.” Everyone has experienced times when they are stressed, anxious or are feeling low in themselves. It’s when people are put in situations, often beyond their control, that cause a change from occasional worries into something more chronic and serious that they need more specialised help”. Many in society have lost the traditional family support networks, so the Church’s pastoral team need to be listening and thinking, ‘what can we do differently that will improve matters?’ because we are all in this together. By doing this humbly and consistently, over time, we build the credibility and permission to get involved.

This team certainly make a difference to Worcester and their work never stands still. After discussion with Mark Smith, he will be extending a very warm welcome to the business community with a special Carol service on 10th December at 6 o clock in All Saints – we hope to see many readers of this blog join us then.

Aardvark Marketing Consultants | Marks Mental health Marathon - Rev Dr Rich Johnson talks about the mental health seminar

 

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Meet our co-sponsors – Tom Blencowe and Imogen Heath of RLUK

Meet our co-sponsors – Tom Blencowe and Imogen Heath of RLUK

We are proud to be sponsoring Mark Smith in his Mental Health Marathon as he takes on the Cambodian jungle later in the year. We are also delighted to be supporting Mark alongside some truly outstanding people…

“Diversify or die” is the business mantra of Tom Blencowe, CEO of RLUK group. He believes in today’s fast-moving world of retail, being quick off the block with new ideas and having a flexible approach is the key to long term success. Labels Shopping is certainly in a challenging marketplace, with the toll of failures in big name, big brand high street retailers happening at almost frightening speed. “It’s become almost impossible to predict future retail trends,” says Tom, “which is proving difficult even for even the bigger retailers to do; we’ve always focused on moving forwards rather than staying still, reacting quickly and flexibly to changing market and local conditions”.

I met up with Tom and Imogen Heath, Commercial Director, in their impressive Labels shopping outlet at Ross on Wye. The business has changed over the years, outgrowing the original country store, developing new business models and adding new attractions to make Labels Shopping a better experience. The shopping centre has a enticing mix of outlets – over 50 brands of clothing, plus accessories,shoes, luggage, home furnishings, furniture and giftware.

It’s also a real foodies’s paradise, with a tempting array of brands and lots of local produce in the Food Emporium, Farm shop and local butcher. Fruit, vegetables and free-range eggs for the shop comes from their own local farm, as well as meat from the small numbers of sheep, Tamworth and Welsh pigs. Eating out options onsite include the café, with lovely views of the Herefordshire countryside and the Seafood bar.

Marks Mental Health Marathon | Inside the Gateway cinema at Labels

The latest addition is the Gateway – a 50-seater cinema with comfy Anemone red leather sofas, where you can watch a movie, a streamlined live opera, pop concert or ballet or enjoy live theatre. You can tuck into a meal before a matinee or evening performance or just relax in the bar beforehand. The business plans on having more comedy nights and foreign films into the future, building up new audiences. Much of the upper ground floor of the building is being developed to be an entertainment and leisure space and there are exciting plans in the pipeline to add more health and wellness options – a hair and beauty salon, a health foods store plus physio and therapy space.

Tom has seen many changes to the site over the years, from the original purchase of the site and developing a purpose-built building to developing the office block. Originally the offices were going to be run as a hot desking/flexible working option, but a couple of organisations snapped up the site for new offices, so the plan was changed, and this now provides the group with rental income. It’s this ability of the management team to adapt and offer something new and exciting at the park that has underpinned their success.

Marks Mental Health Marathon | The Gateway cinema bar at Labels

Imogen explained how the shopping business had changed in the 5 years she’s been working there. “We moved from a concession model to a tenant basis in 2015 on the lower ground floor, which gives a more stable income and have retained some space for our own brands, as with, for example, the Food Emporium.” The cinema has a superb state of the art sound system and Tom designed the space.  “The popularity of the opera and ballet performances are due to the quality of the sound” she says “and the events sell out really fast, so you have to be quick to get tickets”.  She’s also a believer is surrounding herself with a strong team and the group employ an expert from the film industry to plan the diverse events calendar. The July and August programme includes magic, puppet theatre, vintage cars, craft workshops, or you could try the story time and illustration workshop with children’s’ author Hannah Shaw.

Tom and Mark Smith go back many years and they have developed a strong partnership based on mutual respect. “I really enjoy working with Mark” says Tom, “as we can have a chat about life as well as talk business”. We’re pleased to be supporting Mark in raising money for Mental Health, which Tom knows from experience of working as an architect in hospitals, has been a poor relation to physical illness in the health service for years. On 2nd October Labels are generously hosting a Mental Health– Practical Help For You & Your Business seminar in the cinema. The business is also involved in fundraising for a local charity as Teenagers In Crisis are their chosen charity of for 2019. On 9th October, they will be hosting two fashion shows, with some of the teenagers who have used the helpline becoming their models for the day.

Naturally, I couldn’t leave Labels without indulging in a little retail therapy involving clothes and puddings and I’m sure every visitor will feel the same about this treasure trove on our doorsteps!

Marks Mental Health Marathon | Labels

If you would like to read more about Mark’s Mental Health Marathon please click here.

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Meet Rob Bartup of GB Liners, one of our co-sponsors

Meet Rob Bartup of GB Liners, one of our co-sponsors

We are proud to be sponsoring Mark Smith in his Mental Health Marathon as he takes on the Cambodian jungle later in the year. We are also delighted to be supporting Mark alongside some truly outstanding people…

Keeping the family business on the road through the peaks and troughs of economic cycles isn’t easy, but MD Rob Bartup takes everything in his stride and has resilience written all over him.

The business was started as Bartups of Brighton by his grandfather in 1923. His father came into the business after being in the RAF and having ended up in a PoW camp in the Middle East in 1944. Coming home aged just 26, he was dispatched to manage the ‘Hereford office’, which then had just one van. He remained working at GB Liners until he passed away in 1995. Rob has always worked in the business, although he was tempted by a several job offers in accountancy after finishing University and has one regret – that he might have preferred taking up the law as a profession

.Marks Mental Health Marathon | GB Liners 3

Rob took over the Hereford office in 1975, when the team had grown to about 15 and there were half a dozen removal vans in two locations – Hereford and Brighton. Today their dedicated staff operate a fleet of 90 vehicles from 11 UK offices. The network has grown by acquisition of smaller businesses – not always at opportune moments – and frequently when tough competition had drawn smaller competitors into serious cashflow difficulties. The sites at Bristol and Cheltenham were the first to be taken over when the owners went bust, their Hereford site merged into GB Liners Hereford.  Leeds was another smaller, 2 van business which was acquired next; then came Manchester, ‘a difficult’ start up’ according to Rob. A warehouse storage site in Cirencester was later bought and a branch established. Loughborough and Edinburgh followed, then a business in St Helens which was merged into the Manchester office. Aberdeen was bought at the height of the North Sea oil and gas boon, only to present problems in 2007/08 as the oil price crashed. The last acquisition was of a sales office in Paris, to help manage growing demand for intercontinental business. Rob denies there is an overall ‘grand plan’ however is currently on the lookout for strategically placed acquisitions in the Northeast, East or South.

Rob appreciates the role of Mark Smith at Lloyds Bank in these considerable number of property acquisitions. Some have had complex compliance requirements; others have gone through in a remarkably smooth and speedy manner. What’s been valuable is knowing at an early stage whether the interest shown by GB Liners would be likely to lead to a successful purchase, and a great deal of time, effort and energy hasn’t been expended on those unlikely to fly. Mark has given sage advice and has an ability to explain in simple language the intricacies of some of the things GB Liners have tried to do.

Marks Mental Health Marathon | GB Liners 1

The housing market and the removals business follows what Rob refers to as the ‘the economic cycle magnified many times over’. There are times when house sales are buoyant, and their existing staff and removal vans literally cannot cope with the high volume of consumer demand. At times of economic downturn, the opposite happens. “2008-09 was the worst” says Rob, “when nothing was happening”. He also recalls recessions in 1979 – 81, the introduction of the 3-day week and describes 1988-1992 as ‘extremely horrible.’ The business has always had to stash the cash at peak capacity and then watch it pour out in the downturns when the few business opportunities available get drawn into ‘silly price’ competition.

The challenge of new regulation changes and politics is never far away. The imminent introduction of Clean Air Zones around the country will have a severe impact. GB Liners managed the introduction of London’s’ Congestion zone by moving the vehicles around between offices, with newer models that complied with changing regulation on diesel engines used there. In the very near future, new zones could potentially be introduced in Bristol, Edinburgh, Aberdeen, Birmingham and Leeds. Rob predicts that Manchester will introduce restrictions. This makes life difficult for a business that has a vehicle  lifecycle of 15 years, as they’ll either have to be replaced early (and the old ones cannot be sold off as their residual value will be lowered) or customers will have pay a surcharge of about £100 per day if it involves a congestion zone.

Marks Mental Health Marathon | GB Liners 2

Currently GB Liners has about one third of its business coming from moves across Europe, so Brexit could have a huge impact on the business. The scale of the challenge getting goods moved through the channel ports is huge, with the number of staff at customs agents reduced from a pre single market peak of 3,000 to around 150 people today in just five agencies. This could potentially mean each person having to process 12,000 consignments per day! Rob explained that even the planned ‘Simplified Transit Procedure’ wasn’t finalised yet and would require paperwork to be processed both before and after the movement of the removal vans. Without advance notice of what would be required it’s difficult for the business managers to put Brexit plans in place.

GB Liners have adapted to every change in the past and will, no doubt be equally successful in the future, whatever the economic and political climate. Over the years, the managers and teams have pulled together to share ideas and solutions and Rob is very proud of his staff who have stayed with the firm through thick and thin. GB Liners takes pride in their excellent service delivered by very dedicated people. “One thing I’ve learned, says Rob, “is that the cost of putting something right is unbearable, so we work very hard at making sure things are right first time. The reputation of the company for their high-quality service is our most important asset”.

Marks Mental Health Marathon | Sponsor GB Liners

Marks Mental Health marathon | GB Liners

If you would like to read more about Mark’s Mental Health Marathon please click here.

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The Lloyds Bank 2019 Big Quiz Evening in aid of Mental Health UK at Hereford Cathedral School

The Lloyds Bank 2019 Big Quiz Evening in aid of Mental Health UK at Hereford Cathedral School

Pit-your-wits against some of the finest minds in the county…and a few from over the border, too! Our (extra!)ordinary quiz masters, Richard and Ian, will keep us on our toes with a variety of entertaining subject rounds so dust off the grey matter, brush up on your musical memories and keep your eyes on topical new items in the days leading up to the quiz!

2019’s Big Quiz Evening supports Lloyds Bank’s Charity of the Year – Mental Health UK and locally we’re aiming to raise £25K for this great cause. You can read more here.

Date: Thursday, 12th September

Time: 6.30 – 10.45 pm

Venue: Zimmerman Main Hall, Church Street, Hereford, HR1 2NG

Agenda:

6.30 pm for a 7 pm start.
Get your team of 4 masterminds together – £60 per table.

Bring your own picnic supper and enjoy a night-out with the food you enjoy!

Cash bar, raffle, silent auction and winning prizes!

If you’ve been before, you know you enjoyed it! If you’ve never come along,where have you been – we’ve missed you! Tables will book quickly – get in early!

To enter a team, send your £60 donation via the Just Giving link below, then email your team name to Mark.Smith5@Lloydsbanking.com and put The Lloyds Bank 2019 Hereford Big Quiz Evening in your email.

Mark Smith is aiming to raise a staggering £25,000 for Mental Health UK for his forthcoming Cambodian trek, please come along to the quiz evening and have a great time, while supporting a brilliant charity.

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Thoughts on Mental Health

Thoughts on Mental Health

Further to our previous blog “Spotlight on Mental Health” we have two more individuals discussing their reactions to the brilliant Mental Health seminars as hosted by Mark Smith. Mark Smith is aiming to raise a staggering £25,000 for Mental Health UK for his forthcoming Cambodian trek. As part of his fundraising he is hosting a series of seminars tackling mental health in the workplace.

At Aardvark Marketing we are proud to be supporting Mark Smith in his efforts, alongside some truly inspirational business leaders. Speakers at the mental health seminars include Harrison Clark Rickerbys discussing the legal aspect, and a speaker from Bishop Fleming who gives an incredible and honest insight into managing mental health both personally and professionally.

Here are two attendees from the recent seminars sharing what they learnt. The first is Richard Nicol from Nicol & Co Estate Agents.

The second is Gill Wooldridge from Bradley Haines Law, discussing how she found the seminar helpful given her role in HR.

There are three more Mental Health Seminars planned for later in the year.

All these events follow the same format:

  • Light refreshments.
  • Opening remarks and introduction.
  • Mental Health UK – support for you and your business.
  • Harrison Clark Rickerbys – legal obligations and implications.
  • Bishop Fleming – Honest and practical experiences of a business leader in managing personal and employee wellbeing.
  • Close and light refreshments.

These are free events, with a suggested donation of £25 or more to Mental Health UK, via this Just Giving site, to support Lloyds Bank’s national charity.

Date: Wednesday, 25th September
Time: 8am – 11am
Venue: Malvern College, College Rd, Malvern WR14 3DF
To book your place on the Malvern seminar email Mark.Smith5@lloydsbanking.com and put Malvern 25th September in the email.

Date: Wednesday, 2nd October
Time: 2pm – 5pm
Venue: Ross Labels, Ross Park, Ross-on-Wye, Herefordshire, HR9 7US
To book your place on the Ross on Wye seminar email Mark.Smith5@lloydsbanking.com and put Ross 2nd October in the email.

Monmouthshire – November
Date: TBC
Time: TBC
Venue: Monmouth, details TBC

We look forward to seeing you all there!

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Spotlight on mental health

Spotlight on mental health

We recently attended two Mental Health Seminars, hosted by Mark Smith of Lloyds Bank as part of his fundraising for his Mental Health Marathon. Mark is aiming to raise £25,000 for Mental Health UK and is taking part in a Cambodian trek.

Mental health is one of more pressing problems of our time, and managing mental health effectively in the workplace has a massive financial implication for businesses. Not only is there the obvious sick leave, but the less obvious reduced productivity has a huge implication. Considering the mental health of your employees, is not only compassionate but also shows good business sense.

During the seminars there were a variety of speakers, talking about mental health from different angles. Mental Health UK discussed how to support you and your business, Harrison Clark Rickerbys discussed the legal aspect, and a speaker from Bishop Fleming gave an incredible and honest insight into managing mental health both personally and professionally.

Here are two attendees reflecting on what they have learnt from the seminar. The first is Mike Forrester from Orchard Valley Foods, also representing the Chamber of Commerce.

The next clip is Rev Dr Richard Johnson. Rev Johnson is vicar at All Saints church in Worcester, Mark Smith’s church, but also attended as representing the church, to increase their understanding of mental health in the workplace.

There are three more Mental Health Seminars planned for later in the year.

All these events follow the same format:

  • Light refreshments.
  • Opening remarks and introduction.
  • Mental Health UK – support for you and your business.
  • Harrison Clark Rickerbys – legal obligations and implications.
  • Bishop Fleming – Honest and practical experiences of a business leader in managing personal and employee wellbeing.
  • Close and light refreshments.

These are free events, with a suggested donation of £25 or more to Mental Health UK, via this Just Giving site, to support Lloyds Bank’s national charity.

Date: Wednesday, 25th September
Time: 8am – 11am
Venue: Malvern College, College Rd, Malvern WR14 3DF
To book your place on the Malvern seminar email Mark.Smith5@lloydsbanking.com and put Malvern 25th September in the email.

Date: Wednesday, 2nd October
Time: 2pm – 5pm
Venue: Ross Labels, Ross Park, Ross-on-Wye, Herefordshire, HR9 7US
To book your place on the Ross on Wye seminar email Mark.Smith5@lloydsbanking.com and put Ross 2nd October in the email.

Monmouthshire – November
Date: TBC
Time: TBC
Venue: Monmouth, details TBC

We look forward to seeing you all there!

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Meet our co-sponsor Martyn Rees

Meet our co-sponsor Martyn Rees

We are proud to be sponsoring Mark Smith in his Mental Health Marathon as he takes on the Cambodian jungle later in the year. We are also delighted to be supporting Mark alongside some truly outstanding people…

Martyn isn’t one for titles or formality. He’s the MD at County Building Supplies which has grown from a “two bloke, one van and a passion to get things done” start-up with his mate David Lloyd in 1987 to a highly successful business group of 6 companies serving 10 locations throughout the Midlands. Starting out as a building merchant the business now has specialist services for Kitchens & Bathrooms, Heating & Plumbing, Renewable Energy and, their latest business, an online car detailing supplier. Customers get free delivery if they are within 20 miles of any location (Cheltenham, Coventry, Droitwich, Evesham, Malvern, Monmouth, Nuneaton, Tetbury).

The secret to his success is, according to Martyn, running the happiest builders’ merchant in the world. He’s a firm believer that work should be fun as well as business, calls all his staff on first name terms and directs operations in an informal manner. Staff are all treated with the same respect whether they are the newest member or the longest serving area director. He’s not averse to playing the odd practical joke on fellow directors and identified with being the naughty boy at the back of the classroom in his youth. Today he still enjoys working and has absolutely no plans to retire. Fridays are his work from home days but he’s still very ‘hands on’, making good use of his tablet to stay in touch with email and calls. He won’t thank you for a formal introduction either, no MD title is required, he’s just introduced as “Martyn from Malvern” whenever he’s visiting one of their many sites.

Martyn has a knack for getting on with people and immediately makes you feel welcome when you meet him. He loves being a company rep on the road so much that he still goes out every Tuesday and Thursday meeting new customers and catching up with his ‘friends in business’. This week he’s exchanged garden plants with a customer during his visit. Martyn readily acknowledges that his world is price competitive and the business is a member of a larger buying group to ensure their prices are kept as competitive as possible. It’s not all about a direct cost comparison and County Building Supplies will make every effort to get a part out to a customer quickly because they understand that a contractor doesn’t want to be kept waiting several days. This means, unlike some of their competitors, his trade customer won’t have to pick up a hotel accommodation bill because the item isn’t available the exact day he needs it. In his immaculate showrooms, customers are welcomed, given specialist advice and help with their project, and shown the best products for them to achieve what they want whilst getting good value out of their budget.

What’s so impressive about County Building Supplies is staff loyalty. The average length of service in the business is an incredible 18 years! Because he’s created this happy and productive working environment, Martyn has never had a problem with either staff recruitment or retention. He’s proud that one member of staff who joined the business as a ‘Saturday boy’ remembers their progression from their first pay cheque to being promoted through the ranks up to Director level. Taking the initiative is encouraged, with the newest service, car detailing supplies, being run very successfully online by one of the newest and youngest on the team.

Within the industry Martyn is obviously well liked and respected, and he’s on the Board of Directors for his Commercial Buying group, as position he owes to the votes of his fellow members. Martyn admits this is useful for the business as he always has the ear of another MD or Sales Director whenever necessary. It’s his belief that he works in a friendly industry, he recalls a conversation with an economist attending one of the annual trade events and contrasting the friendly welcome with another trade body where hardly anyone spoke to him.

Martyn is very happy to sponsor Mark Smith with his Mental Health Marathon. Martyn’s comments about Mark are that he’s almost too nice to be a bank manager and is always available for a chat, even if this is in the evening. He says Mark always reacts promptly to what he wants, really understands what he wants and will sort it out, fighting his corner if necessary. Martyn continues to expand the business, which he has managed to do consistently through good economic times and recessions, so he appreciates having a good banker on his side. In the pipeline are plans for new sites in Hereford and in Tewkesbury, which I’m sure will be staffed by more of the friendliest people in the business!

If you would like to read more about Mark’s Mental Health Marathon please click here.

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Aardvark Marketing Consultants | How full is your stress bucket?

How full is your ‘stress bucket’?

How full is your ‘stress bucket’?

I had the good fortune to attend a “Mental health in the workplace” seminar earlier this week.  Of the many interesting facts and ideas shared with the audience, one particularly resonated with me.  The speakers from Mental Health UK talked about the concept of a stress bucket.  You can find more information on their website  but here is my take on the idea.

Aardvark Marketing Consultants | How full is your stress bucket?The ‘stress bucket’ has a number of feeds (rain clouds in the diagram) which are the things that cause us stress.  They could be work related, but also from our personal lives, health or even wider factors that we can’t necessarily control but increase our stress level.  At the bottom of the bucket are outlets (I think of them as taps), which we use to reduce our stress.  Examples could be exercise, socialising or listening to music.  Over time our stress levels go up and down depending on the flow of stress into our bucket and how much stress we release through our taps.

There were three key observations which I took away from the seminar and I want to use in my work and home life:

Firstly, everyone has a different size stress bucket. Some people have buckets the size of a skip, while for others it’s more like a thimble.  That’s just the way it is, we can’t change it.  In practice it means some people have more capacity for additional stress before they need to open their taps, while others have a limited capacity and need to keep opening taps.  The flip side is also true; those with a smaller bucket can de-stress faster.  We need to be sensitive to those around us and recognise how big their bucket is and do what we can to accommodate this and support them in managing their stress bucket.

Thinking about the stress bucket and how it works made me realise that as my stress bucket fills up, I tend to self-sabotage.  I tell myself that I don’t have the time to do the things that are my ‘taps’ – exercise, read, meet up with friends … Not only does this prevent the release of stress, the fact that I know I should be doing these things adds more stress!

Related to this is the harsh reality that it’s almost impossible to help someone else with their stress levels, or in any other way if our own stress bucket is full.  Managing our own stress bucket, opening our taps gives us capacity to help others and also sets a positive example to everyone around us.  Taking time out to get back in balance when we need it isn’t selfish; it’s the first step to helping the colleagues, friends and family we want to support.

If this is a subject that interests you or you want to learn more about mental health in the workplace, there are two more seminars in October and November, click here to find out more.

Chris

 

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