Featuring Buildbase: Interview with Kate Tinsley, Managing Director


Buildbase: The Tradesman’s Supermarket

(The Following is a Promoted Article)

Of the challenges facing regional tradesmen, the sheer complexities of building a well established supply chain is often almost as daunting a concept as the job itself. Not only do smaller contractors struggle to find the right supplier for the job, but with the inability to demand economies of scale and a lack of support in finding the right products for the task at hand, comes a situation in which contractors are unable to focus on what it is that they do best. But this is where Buildbase comes in, offering a simple and effective source for everything required by the modern tradesman.

Established in the UK some 20 years ago, Buildbase, part of the Grafton Group, the UK’s third largest builders merchanting business, has an unrivalled offering of everything the modern-day building contractor could hope for. Electricbase, Hirebase and Plumbase sit alongside Buildbase in the Grafton merchanting portfolio of businesses, enabling tradespeople to access the full range of building materials.

The core of the Buildbase range is, as is to be expected, standardised building products, however Buildbase differentiates itself by being the only national supplier of the whole package of these products, combined with that of a comprehensive range of electrical goods – something which keen competitors have yet to fully develop. Additionally, Buildbase also has a national hire business, boasting 120 sites across the country where customers are able to hire whatever they may need.

Understanding that individuals are, in general quite “time poor”, Buildbase presents itself as a one-stop-shop, an easy and simple solution for sourcing any supplies for the task at hand. As Kate Tinsley, Managing Director of Buildbase explains: “We can essentially build a house from the ground upwards, with every single thing you can see in that house, provided here, by us. Whatever the build contract is, Buildbase can support with a complete materials offering. They can find everything they need in one place, reducing time and money spent driving around to negotiate prices with different sources. Instead, they simply come straight to us and do it all in one go.”

The Buildbase range is consistently being updated, not only to incorporate new products, but also to ensure that everything on the shelves is fit for purpose. While customer and market research do play a vital role in this process, Buildbase equally regards the importance of direct customer feedback and liaison with customers on a day-to-day basis. Through straightforward communication, Buildbase team members pursue an initiative-led approach to better understanding customer needs and effectively finding ways of making it as easy as possible for tradesmen to complete the jobs which they are currently working on.

Key to this ethos is, as one would expect, the economies of scale that Buildbase can offer its customers. This is achieved by offering customers the weight and breadth of Buildbase, as well as of the Grafton Group, in getting the best value, fit for purpose products on demand. As Kate Tinsley furthers: “We leverage everything powerful that comes with being part of a national company. This mostly comes down to the suppliers, but is also about making sure the people at the front-end of our network are agile and responsive to customer needs. It’s effectively like being a local merchant but with the national leveraging behind it.”

Yet it isn’t simply a case of supplying to the requirement of the customer, as Buildbase understands it. Due to the sheer experience and understanding of the wider industry, Buildbase simultaneously toes the line of offering a responsive needs-based service, whilst also providing an advisory role in both specification and the best products for the job itself. And this level of support is essential for many an SME, where tradesmen may have ambitious designs or challenges to meet, but require something a little above and beyond the bare provision of product and, in this instance, Buildbase is able to step up to the challenge and work alongside the customer to assess the commercial viability of a project as well as the various areas which must be covered over the course of the project itself.

“One of the big differentiators between us and our competitors is that our staff have extensive product knowledge and, as experts, we can offer advice where required. We also offer an estimating services and so, people can bring in their building plans and we can advise on how much that might cost from a project perspective,” enthuses Kate Tinsley, nodding to the support offered to tradesmen through simple, yet effective communication. It is, however, not solely on this side of the fence that truly defines Buildbase. Kate Tinsley adds: “We work really closely with key suppliers,, partnering with them and taking new product suggestions. Additionally, we’re in constant communication and we’ll feed back customer thoughts and responses to their products too – in this industry you have to work closely with the manufacturers as ultimately they are the ones with the intimate product knowledge that can often be required by our customers.”

On both sides, it is the expertise of Buildbase’s team that makes all of this possible. Unlike many keen competitors who do indeed offer a friendly service, Buildbase’s offering is one whereupon each and every member of the team is qualified and experienced enough to offer targeted, project-specific advice and consultation. This approach is not only backed by extensive training programmes for the team, but also through a keen recognition of the importance of this service and the motivational support required to ensure that each and every member of staff is both ready and able to provide for the customer as best as can be done; effectively, as Buildbase understands it, it is a case of developing relationships in an industry where trust is paramount.

Providing her personal thoughts and drive behind the Buildbase approach to people, Kate Tinsley explains: “I try to push engagement with our people. It’s very much a relationship-driven industry and if we can create a happy working environment for our people then their working relationships with customers will be positive. We try to be very straight forward in the business but, what remains key is looking after our people and our customers. It sounds like we just supply things to people, but it’s really the relationships that matter. We’re championing being a straight forward business and encouraging involvement in the local community, engaging with consumers as frequently as we can and really, all being one part of the same team with opportunity for success. People buy from people, and that’s never more obvious than in this industry.”

And while this one-stop-shop solution is one which provides an essential level of support for SMEs operating within the sector, that isn’t to say that larger contractors aren’t also praising the service on offer. Allowing organisations to consolidate their supply chain and mitigate the associated management costs for such a chain, trade with Buildbase effectively simplifies the procurement of supplies by being a simple, easy place to do business with. Effectively Buildbase offers it all, to all, for the benefit of all.


Latest Issue

BDC 301 February 2023