Rose Group Building Supplies Interview - Part 1
Blue Rock Systems Ltd, Southampton
To produce a written interview for the Blue Rock Systems Ltd blog, based on an in-person interview with Natasha Rose, Managing Director of Rose Group
Established for over 100 years, NBG member Rose Group is an independent, family run business providing building supplies, landscaping products, aggregates, plant equipment, skips and recycling to both members of the public and the trade.
Rose Group houses the growing portfolio of companies belonging to the trusted Rose family. Established in 1903 in Whittlesey as a local building firm, their strong and reliable reputation saw a dramatic increase of business over the years, resulting in a move of premises in 1991 to the nearby city of Peterborough, where you can find them today.
A Blue Rock customer since February 2017 (the installation of iQ), they have recently gone through an exciting growth period, after acquiring Pattrick & Thompsons in King’s Lynn in July 2021, and then opening their Corby branch in August 2021.
Glen Jewell, Sales Director at Blue Rock Systems, interviews Natasha Rose, Managing Director of Rose Group.
Glen: “Natasha, you don’t actually have a builders’ merchant background do you? What did you first start out doing?”
Natasha: “Yeah I had completely different plans to start with! I graduated from university after exploring the academic side of Theatre Literature, then went on to drama school and started acting in London. But it was so difficult, more like a business where networking and the rules around it were not what I expected — I just thought you went in, quoted some Shakespeare and people thought you were wonderful!
It turns out that you are the business and you have to market yourself in that way, and unfortunately I didn’t realise that at the time.
That paired with a heartbreak left me feeling pretty lost, and led me back to my dad’s house, my pyjamas and his sofa!”
Glen: “A completely different industry to where you are now then! How did you end up in the merchant industry?”
Natasha: “Well my dad’s sympathy was quite short-lived — he basically said to me, if you don’t go out and get a job you’re going to drive me mad!
So I took a job on the counter at Andrews (as it was called then) — it was a bit of a baptism of fire to be honest. There were no computers in the place — it was 2003 and there were no computers! They were still using triple carbonate order pads, calculators and price books.
I had no terminology knowledge, and the price books were arranged alphabetically by supplier, it was a nightmare. We were probably scaring off as many customers as we were welcoming in, mainly because of how long they had to stand there and wait for someone to find a price.
I’d only been there a month and I could tell there were just so many improvements that could be made.”
Glen: “You obviously managed to get some sort of technology introduced within the company — how did that go?
Natasha: “I was told I had no budget at all! I ended up sitting there in the evenings and sort of built this very rudimental system using Pegasus Opera, manually inputting 5000 stock lines one by one, which worked to an extent. It was better than pen and paper, but we still had a long way to go.”
Glen: “Your journey in Andrew’s really was hands on then!”
Natasha: “Yeah, I started on the counter, then moved to transport, accounts, finance director and finally to Managing Director, so I built up quite a bit of experience as I went along. I think it helped me really know what we needed to improve within the business, in terms of customer service and being a friendlier face. ”
Glen: “You recently won the BMN Diversity & Inclusion in Merchanting award — what do you think put you ahead of the competition?”
Natasha: “I really wanted to make Rose somewhere that anybody felt comfortable coming into.
I’ve made separate trade and retail customer service points, which I think is really important because if you’re a member of the public and you don’t know quite what you need, sometimes it can be intimidating having an expert stood behind you.
It’s quite a male dominated industry too so I’ve made sure that at least one of the customer service team at each branch is a female, so that everyone has the option to speak to whoever they feel most comfortable with.
Internally, we train staff constantly, and if we feel that someone would be more comfortable or confident in a different role, we work to make that happen. We also make sure we hold onto our five core values and these are always kept at the front of our minds — we actually bonus our staff based on how well they meet the values, rather than how much they’ve sold.
If our staff are happy, and they’re the right fit for us, then we will be successful no matter what.”