- Council for Aluminium in Building (CAB) -

A Week in the Life of… Justin Ratcliffe, CAB Chief Executive


Justin Ratcliffe, CAB Chief Executive

Monday 30 March 2009 - Friday 3 April 2009

Monday: A busy week in store and lots to complete before a week’s family holiday in Exmoor. The day starts with a discussion with the providers of the popular CAB Contracts seminars, SLS Solicitors. We have already launched the 3rd Seminar ‘Managing Your Position When Disaster Strikes’ and have just a few final points to agree. The seminars, produced by SLS Solicitors, have proved very popular with fabricator members and helps provides a great deal of ‘added value’ to membership. I am especially excited by this one as the format of having a case study was largely developed by CAB members during a Q & A session at the last seminar in February.

Time is spent with Julie Harley, CAB’s Office & Events Manager, in reviewing the 2009 Events programme. Julie really has her finger on the pulse of all our activities and I am delighted to learn the latest booking figures for our July AGM which are already over 150 and rising. We discuss the options for a final large event in November 2009 and agree to look at the Building Centre in London and Scottish based venues. With over 200 likely to attend, not only the venue but the speaker line up is crucial.

The remainder of the day is taken up with various marketing activities including a catch up with Dellar Davies an agency working on a design for our ‘Aluminium Village’ within the ‘CAB Aluminium in Construction Zone’ at Interbuild 2009. Working in partnership with Interbuild an excellent position for the Zone has been secured and I want our Village area to be even bigger and brighter than 2008.

Tuesday: The day starts off with a lively meeting of the CAB Marketing Committee which is as usual well supported by its members across the supply chain. We agree an important project to develop the website with a budget and time scales with a sub-committee overseeing the work. There is also a positive progress report on the annual CAB Marketing Conference ‘Selling to Specifiers’ in April.

Our UK Aluminium in Renovation Awards are progressing well towards launch and Professor Michael Stacey rings me from Sweden and we confirm the line up of judges to join him as Chair. We now have Max Fordham OBE, Max Fordham & Partners on board and we are looking to exceed the 40 entries in the inaugural year in 2007 especially as practices are already contacting us with entries before the launch date!

Catching up with emails and correspondence, time is also spent reviewing 2009 membership drive. Despite the considerable downturn we have approved 9 new applications for membership already and there is a still further follow up required from our ‘Ecobuild 2009’ stand at Earls Court earlier in the month. Interested companies tell me that it is ‘technical back up’ and ‘being kept up to date’ with industry issues such as standards and regulations that interest them. Many are also keen to latch onto the marketing benefits as ‘word of mouth’ spreads about CAB’s large scale networking events and the ongoing work to promote aluminium’s sustainable credentials.

That evening my eldest son Harry (5) declares that he is fed up with school and asks why can he not be on holiday in Exmoor now ! Still only 3 days to go. He is comforted by the fact that while we are away we will be celebrating his 6th birthday on the West Somerset Railway.

Wednesday: Travel to London for a lunchtime meeting in connection with a specialised media supplement. There is still work to be done to ensure that the project progresses and the deadlines are tight. After the meeting I have the chance to check through some PR written by our agency a2n and write a couple of regular feature columns as well as keeping up with correspondence.

In the early evening its over a House of Lords reception organised by the Construction Products Association (CPA). Margaret Beckett, Alan Duncan and Ken Clarke are all present. While the location on the Cholmondeley Room & Terrace affords great views over the Thames, there is some serious talking to do. All parties have a representative speaker. One of our main lobbying points to the 140 Members of Parliament present is the need for government to commit to its capital expenditure programmes especially in relation to schools and colleges.

Thursday: In the office to catch up with David Earle, CAB’s Technical Officer. David is heavily committed to a number of key standards and regulations committees in our sector in the UK and Europe. There are a number of updates that need my attention. We discuss the final line up for the 4th CAB Technical Conference. It is now seen as a ‘must attend’ event in the CAB calendar and has continued to grow and develop, which is largely due to David’s expert input and drive.

In the afternoon its back to London and a further meeting in connection with the planned media supplement and we have finally reached our target. It has been a huge effort on behalf of everyone in the current climate. It is at last a piece of good news to give CAB members attending the 2009 Building Awards. The Awards are a good opportunity to take a ‘barometer’ reading of the current climate. Over 1300 are present and key concerns are being expressed about the ‘supply chain’ and how companies can really work together in such challenging times. It is also apparent that there are some ‘pockets’ of the industry that are faring well. I take the opportunity to thank Max Fordham in person for agreeing to be part of our Renovation Awards and let leave the party early.

Friday 3 April: It’s an early morning train to Bath for an all day Centre for Window & Cladding Technology (CWCT) members event entitled ‘Refurbishment – opportunity or necessity’. A number of interesting speakers look at the drivers for refurbishment, the available technologies and the processes of design and procurement. It is highly relevant and interesting given our Aluminium in Renovation Awards and I am accompanied by Martin Ford, our Technical Support Officer, who joined us in October 2009. It is another chance for him to meet a number of industry contacts.

The senior façade team from Lendlease confirm that the lobbying that CAB has undertaken with BRE in connection with the latest version of the Green Guide and some of the subsequent changes that have been implemented have proved helpful. An engineering consultancy expresses interest in our work and becoming a member and we get the chance to catch up with a number of CAB members who are also present.

Returning to the office, Martin is the chauffeur as I catch up on emails and try to ensure everything is finished off. Back in Stonehouse it is a matter of clearing the desk. Julie has some some good news in that she has had two interesting enquiries for membership. I send a note to both- one is particularly exciting as it is an area where we are not well represented.

Finally as I leave Stonehouse, my thoughts turn to a week with the family, long walks along Doone Valley and Bossington Beach and a good pint of Exmoor real ale!

Important Note: Remember passport on first day back – for trip around the Olympics 2012 site organised by CPA/ Peter Bonfield (BRE). For more information about CAB, it’s membership and activity within the UK construction market visit the CAB website at www.c-a-b.org.uk



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