Behind the brand
As Baumit reach the 5-year marker in the UK, Managing Director Ben Warren reflects on the journey from start-up to disrupter and what it really means to be Baumit.
By Ben Warren, Managing Director
Back in 2016 I left the comfort and security of one of the biggest names in the construction industry to set up Baumit in the UK as we know it now. The change for me was massive, going from managing an experienced team of fifty to starting from scratch.
For the first few months my office was Starbucks and all I had was a pen, a notebook and access to an online banking app. My first task was to find premises, followed closely by staff and customers. Our first appointment is still a trusted employee going from strength to strength and now managing a team and an integral part of the day to day running of the company. Our first customer is still with us too and whilst I am sure we have tested his patience; I will be eternally grateful for his help and assistance in those early days, and he is now somebody I am pleased to call a friend.
When the journey started five years ago, I had no doubt that I was being offered a unique opportunity. I have huge amounts of respect for those who take the plunge to go self-employed and I can only imagine how stressful those first few months and years are. The uniqueness of my opportunity was that I got to build a business with the support of a big international company behind me, supporting me every step of the way.
Even in those early days I was never doing it alone, there was a vast network of knowledge on offer from my international colleagues to guide and support me. As we have grown and become more self-sufficient the international support has adapted too from direct support for the start-up to proactive support for new product development and systems. As the business has developed, so too has the guidance and advice.
There are many memorable moments from the last five years that I am so appreciative of but the thing I am most proud of is the team. I was given the wonderful opportunity not to only employ staff but to start and develop a positive culture from a blank canvas. This really was a unique opportunity and one that I have never regretted taking. From that first appointment I made to a growing work force of eighteen, the same positive culture is practised and continues to develop.
Successful businesses are often referred to as well-oiled machines and whilst we work very efficiently and everybody understands their roles and functions, that analogy is far too impersonal for me to use to describe Baumit UK. We are more than a machine, it takes more than just processes and practices to create the type of environment we wanted at Baumit UK. Creating this culture has been an organic process, adapting to our staff and how we operate. We feel more like a family than a company of staff and that is so important to me and how we work.
There is a genuine care and concern between colleagues but also a steely determination to get a job done and get it done well. Nobody worries about what their job description says when we all need to pull together and achieve the best outcomes. It is these shared experiences (plus a few great nights out) that really brings a team together and it is this culture that this has paid dividends for us all over the last few years.
The past 12 months has thrown a lot of challenges at us in more ways than one and we have mastered the difficulties of working from home, virtual meetings and our own personal health and insecurities borne from the pandemic and the current world situation. It has been so rewarding to watch our staff step-up and form a support network for each other – helping each other when we need it most.
It is not uncommon for a weekly review or a passing chat to be more about the person than the tasks and in what was already a very people-focused business it again reminds me that without good people you don’t have a business.