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Apprentice of the year
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The Pivotal Role Trade Body Memberships Play In The Painting and Decorating Industry

Bagnalls | 14 October

Trade body memberships like the Painting and Decorating Association (PDA) provide a vital support network for their members, and are deeply rooted in the industrial revolution, when craftsmen joined forces to agree worker’s rights, pay and to provide a voice for all.

Bagnalls has been a long-standing and active member of the PDA. Generations of senior managers in the company have contributed and continue to be members of committees and working parties in the PDA, dealing with industry drivers including, apprenticeships, training, safety and environment.

The PDA is the largest UK trade body for the painting and decorating sector. The high level of service offered to our customers has been consistently recognised in the annual trophy and apprentice awards of the PDA.

From trade body memberships to how the principles of small business form best practice today, our Marketing Director Joanne Gualda talks to Neil Ogilvie, Chief Executive at the Painting and Decorating Association. Click here for more information about the PDA

What was it that drew you to the industry?

Ultimately, for any decorator, the rewarding part of the job is the look on a customer’s face when we complete the work to their satisfaction and beyond. I’ve been in the industry for 43 years now in a variety of roles and can honestly say I’ve loved every minute.

What has been your career highlight to date from 11 years as Chief Executive at the PDA?

There have been many, but high on the list would be the 25th Anniversary of our Premier Trophy Awards where we welcomed HRH The Duke of Gloucester as our guest of honour. Despite all the scary protocols that we received in advance, he was a delightful and interested guest who handed out the awards and stayed for the whole event rather than only part of it as we had been led to expect.

In a slightly different arena, I am always pleased to host the PDA Apprentice competitions where we can showcase the talents of our future workforce. The competitions have gone from strength to strength with more entrants’ year on year. We are pleased to say that once they have completed their apprenticeships, a good proportion of them join the PDA.

Lastly, in 2018, I was very pleased to be asked to represent the UK on the board of UNIEP (The International Association of Painting Contractors). The Association also has a longstanding partnership with BUILD UK. Build UK is the leading representative organisation for the UK construction industry. By bringing together Clients, Main Contractors, Trade Associations representing over 11,500 Specialist Contractors and other organisations committed to industry collaboration.

What advice would you give to the next generation of aspiring decorators?

Learn your skills little by little and stick at it. As you progress, you’ll have skills for life, not only do you learn about the technical aspects of being a decorator, but also the softer skills such as customer service and interpersonal communication. This is a fantastic job to take up and If we don’t get young people into a trade, we’re going to have a dramatic shortage of tradespeople in the future. Last year I took two apprentices, Lewis Metcalfe and Abi Johnson from Bagnalls, to Slovenia to take part in a humanitarian project to repaint of a school. I think I would be right in saying that they had a great experience taking part and also learned so much from it. As a decorator, you can walk into a building and completely transform it. Some of our members have gone on to work all over the world on some prestigious projects including Disneyland and Buckingham Palace. From my own perspective, I have made a good living from being a painter and decorator although being self-employed can have its disadvantages as well as its advantages. Hence if you are self-employed, membership of an organisation such as the PDA can be really useful in terms of the support it offers.

How has lockdown impacted PDA applications and members?

May, June and July have been some of our busiest months to date for applications to join the PDA and we’re on track to recruit over 100 new members by the end of the year. Obviously, it’s been a very difficult time for our members and we’ve have been working hard to support them throughout the crisis, as we realized that they would need some extra advice in the light of changing guidelines. The website was updated daily for over 6 months in addition to social media posts, newsletters and our magazine ‘The Decorator’ to keep everyone in the picture. Many of our members have contacted us to say how much they have appreciated our support. This initiative will continue if we need to adapt our industry work practices further, due to the COVID- 19 pandemic.

Can you talk us through the value that the PDA marque adds?

Essentially, it’s a badge of quality. Whether it be on vans, websites, business cards or uniforms, the logo helps our members stand out and gives their customers’ peace of mind in the knowledge that they’re hiring fully trained, qualified tradespeople with all the necessary insurance in place.

How important is your work with councils and what role does it play?

It’s a relatively new venture. We’re producing a brochure for local authorities to advise them of the benefits of using trade association members when contracting for work. Currently, if something goes wrong during the contract, they are often left to go through the Trading Standards authority for help.

PDA membership offers authorities the security of knowledge that the business they have selected to undertake work has the appropriate skills and scope to provide a professional service at a fair price.

What are the main benefits that the PDA offers?

Being part of a trade body means you have support when you need it. In January we launched a free counselling helpline for our members which has been a well-used resource over the past few months.

Our website includes all the Build UK Covid-19 pages which were updated every day during lockdown.

From sole traders, SMEs to firms the size of Bagnalls, we represent everyone. Our members also get full free legal service, should a business dispute arise. This provides them with more security than going it alone. We’re also able to get them preferential rates on insurances. Having the recognition of the Trade Association and Build UK, the umbrella organisation for trade bodies, Trade Association Forum (TAF) and the International Association of Painting Contractors UNIEP provides additional assurance for members. For more information about our benefits click here.

We work with all the leading paint and product manufacturers and have 45 associate partners who give discounts and promotions to our members.

What’s next for the PDA?

We’re also releasing a series of videos for those considering joining a trade body with the first one titled ‘Five good reasons to join the PDA’.

At the moment we’re running a series of free webinars and podcasts on business support to share our knowledge with our members. Example here.

Clearly, due to the pandemic, our events for 2020 have been cancelled. However, the Painting and Decorating Association’s Premier Trophy Awards will be taking place in London on July 1st 2021 and we have rescheduled the 4 apprentice competitions to take place in May and June 2021 so those looking to showcase their talents will be able to do so.

The Association continually strives to anticipate trends in the industry and evolve accordingly to today’s modern needs of our sector. In my role as Chief Executive along with the help of the dedicated head office team we maintain, promote and continue to develop a first-class Association, which will benefit not only our future painters and decorators, but to generate a greater awareness amongst the public domain.

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