John Gaunt of Knauf Insulation scooped this year’s prestigious National Buying Group (NBG) Account Manager of the Year award. He talks to us about what the award means and how the relationship between NBG and Knauf Insulation has benefitted both companies.

The relationship between NBG and Knauf Insulation started in 2012 and has been marked with considerable success for both parties – surely the epitome of a true partnership. Knauf Insulation is one of the leading examples of a supplier setting up a long-term strategic partnership with NBG, and using that relationship to leverage its position in the independent merchant market.

“We sat down with the NBG senior management team early in 2015 and agreed a detailed business plan so everybody knew what we were all hoping to achieve,” says John Gaunt, Knauf Insulation’s Commercial Manager. The business plan detailed actions for growing the Knauf Insulation business with NBG, particularly through value added products and upselling strategies. This plan has been presented to the members at NBG’s Quarter 1 regional meeting and has been continually reviewed and tweaked to reflect business conditions and to capitalise on the elements, which have been most successful.

The Knauf Insulation NBG business plan contained four key goals relating to sales, value added sales, logistics and specific partner support.

These general goals have been reported on for every single NBG partner and the results have been impressive. “NBG’s merchant members have really bought into these business plans and the results we have achieved reflect that,” says John. Knauf Insulation has achieved impressive growth by working closely with NBG in mineral wool – significantly out-performing many of their peers in this sector.

As well as a focus on sales, the Knauf Insulation business plans contain a suite of additional services and value added packages including; staff training, digital marketing advice and a regular newsletter targeted specifically to NBG merchant partners.

“A major reason why we were happy to plan long-term with NBG is because they are always true to their word, deliver what they say and give confidence that we can work and plan together,” says John.

John has worked at Knauf Insulation for 17 years, first as an Area Sales Manager then Regional Sales Manager and Director. He has been in his current role – Commercial Manager - for a number of years. He was delighted just to be nominated as Account Manager of the Year... “I was totally gobsmacked when my name was read out at the gala dinner at the NBG Conference. I see it as a team award and I thank everyone for all the help and support they have given me over the years.”

Knauf Insulation attended the NBG Conference for the first time in 2012 and John’s aim was simply for the company to be nominated in the awards roofing category the following year, an ambitious goal from what was really a standing start. The next year, 2013, Knauf Insulation won the category award for Supplier of the Year and have now been winners for three consecutive years, which is testimony to the hard work put in by John and many of his colleagues and the relationship that has been cemented with NBG.

“Winning this award has given me confidence that what we are doing and the results we are achieving give me real focus, which actually makes work more enjoyable” says John. “Added to this, it proves that the NBG business plans developed, give us a proper framework to move forward together and focus on the job we are doing.”

NBG is an independent, progressive and fast growing group of privately owned builders merchants based throughout the United Kingdom. NBG member companies stock and distribute a wide range of well known building product brands. As demonstrated by the organisation’s relationship with Knauf Insulation, NBG promotes innovation in both process and practice in its supply chain, with the objective of eliminating unnecessary build costs and promoting added value and satisfaction for the customer.

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