2015 was a landmark year in the history of the Howarth Timber group, as they celebrated 175 years of trading. We spoke to Neale Brewster, Marketing and Product Development manager at Howarth Timber about the business and their experience of working with the Keystone Group.

Neale Brewster Howarth Timber

What makes Howarth Timber so successful?

Howarth Group have always been known for our really well trained, friendly staff. This is a people industry. Building is all about people, the people who you know and the things you can do to help them. Howarth Timber puts a lot of emphasis on working closely with suppliers regarding training. We are all here to make money; the more we make, the more people we can employ. We like to look at suppliers as partners. It’s the people in those relationships who make the difference.

What is the importance of product training for your staff?

It’s important from our perspective that staff know when to pass on the questions they are being asked that are beyond their individual knowledge. One of the good things about Keystone is the ease of access to people who can provide our customers with the right technical knowledge and support. I think it’s important that we are constantly updated with regulation changes, especially in relation to products.

What is your experience of selling lintels?

We have been selling lintels for a long time. The success of the sale of lintels is a result of the sales and technical support that we receive for quotes.

What role do counter staff play in the sales process?

I think this is an extremely important role. When customers first come into a branch wanting to start a project and they may have not used a product before, they need to be made aware of the options open to them. It’s up to the counter staff to let them know what the differences are between brands and what their opinions are so that the customer can make a well-informed product choice.

Why do you enjoy working with Keystone?

When Keystone first came into the UK, the Howarth group were one of the first merchants to sell the lintels and we have watched the company develop and grow over the time they have been in the UK market. The Keystone Group are very supportive of our events, they are always willing to provide in-branch training and support and are innovative in the way they do this. They are always looking at ways to do something different and new.

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