Conference Host: Gethin Jones

We are delighted to welcome Gethin Jones, well known broadcaster and TV personality as our conference host.

Gethin first burst onto the screen as a presenter for the longest running children’s show in the world, BBC’s ‘Blue Peter’.

The first ever civilian to finish the UK Royal Marine Commando 30 mile Yomp.

  • Semi-finalist of BBC’s Strictly Come Dancing
  • Hosted his own show “Gethin Jones’ Danger Hunters”
  • BBC Presenter – Proms in the Park
  • ITV Presenter – Police, Camera, Action, 71 Degrees North
  • Radio BBC 5 Live Sports Presenter

Speaker: Paddy Ashdown

A former leader of the Liberal Democrats, Lord Ashdown now sits in the House of Lords as a Liberal Democrat peer. His experience extends far beyond the bounds of domestic politics.

Before entering Parliament in 1983 he served as a Special Forces Commando in the Royal Marines, then joined the Foreign Office where he was posted to the British Mission to the United Nations in Geneva, taking part in the negotiation of several international treaties. 

Lord Ashdown retired from the House of Commons in 2001, the same year he was made a Life Peer. After stepping down as an MP his detailed understanding of the Balkans led to his appointment as UN High Representative and European Union Special Representative for Bosnia and Herzegovina. During the conflict in that country in the 1990s he was one of the leading advocates for decisive action by the international community, arguing that it would help bring the war to an early close. 

Speaker: Steve Ingham


Steve Ingham, CEO of PageGroup, the worldwide leader in specialist recruitment, is the second speaker to be confirmed for the BMF All Industry Conference in Budapest next June.

In a highly topical presentation, Steve will address the challenges of recruiting young talent into the building materials Industry and draw on lessons that can be learnt from other sectors.

When Steve joined Page thirty years ago he was tasked with expanding and diversifying a company known for one specialism, accounting, into a broad-based ‘people’ business.  Now in his eleventh year as CEO, he has overseen the company’s rapid growth to become a FTSE 200 business with a headcount of c.6000 employees spanning 35 countries.  He also rebranded the business in 2012 bringing the three operational brands of Michael Page, Page Personnel and Page Executive together as PageGroup. 

Today, Page recruits across all professions including property and construction, procurement, logistics, supply chain engineering, HR, legal and marketing as well as accounting.  Their clients range from blue chip multi-nationals to family run businesses.

Steve is also Non-Executive Director of Debenhams plc and a member of the Corporate Partnerships Board for Great Ormond Street Hospital Children’s Charity.

Speaker: Glen Sabin

Glen has a long and distinguished career in building products manufacturing and construction.  After an early career with Wimpey and Redland, he spent 22 years in a variety of sales, commercial, business development and marketing roles at Marshalls.

He is currently MD of Polypipe’s Plumbing & Drainage Division, having been a member of the company’s executive team for 12 years.  He is responsible for developing the performance of the business around a number of key objectives, all to be achieved through a focus of creating end-user demand, with delivery primarily thought a network of stockist and distributors.

Speaker: Shanker Patel

Shanker never planned a career in merchanting.  He intended to be a lawyer, but after graduating during the early 90s recession he was drawn into the family business only to discover it was on the brink of insolvency. 

Since becoming MD in 1997 and CEO in 2010 he has turned the merchanting business around and diversified the group’s holdings to encompass manufacturing, distribution, retail, real estate, e-commerce and care homes growing annual turnover to £50million in the process.  Not content with this, the business aims to double its sales within the next five years.

Speaker: Andrew Harrison

Andrew Harrison, a member of Travis Perkins’ Group Executive Committee, started his merchant career back in 1980 as a management trainee with Graham Reeves in Cornwall.  Following branch and area management roles, he moved Sharpe & Fisher as Operations Director helping to grow the business to 38 branches prior to its acquisition by Travis Perkins in 1999.  Andrew was Managing Director at CCF, Benchmarx Kitchens and Joinery, and Keyline before becoming Divisional Chief Operating Officer, General Merchanting in 2013, with responsibility for Travis Perkins, Benchmarx and Toolhire. From January 2017 he will take the role of Group Commercial and Business Development Director.


Speaker: Steph McGovern


Steph McGovern not only hosts the Forum and its lively Q&A session, she will also help set the agenda by speaking about her own career, the importance of recruiting more women to work in industry, and the significance of the construction industry to the UK economy.

Steph has worked in financial journalism for over 13 years but her first taste of broadcasting came aged 19, when she made a guest appearance on a programme about women in science.  She had just won the title of Young Engineer for Britain after saving Black & Decker money on a design she created for their Leaf Hog product. Today she travels all over the UK to cover economic and business news.  She has broadcast live from over 500 businesses for BBC Breakfast, and makes it her mission to find out what’s going on in the real economy.


Speaker: Floyd Woodrow


Since leaving the SAS in 2008, where he earned a Distinguished Conduct Medal for his work in Iraq and an MBE for his work in Afghanistan, Floyd Woodrow has brought the motivational lessons and techniques learnt in the world’s toughest environment to businesses, governments, sports teams and the police.

Floyd is challenging, supportive and committed to developing elite commercial value in strategic planning and execution. He regularly lectures on leadership all over the world and his book, Elite – the secret to Elite Leadership and Performance offers a model for leadership and life as well as a highly practical guide to boosting productivity, team cohesion and individual motivation.


Speaker: Michael Jackson


Michael Jackson, who was voted Speaker Magazine’s 2016 Speaker of the Year, has carved an enviable reputation over the last 15 years as one of the best business-to-business speakers and facilitators on the global professional circuit. He regularly speaks at around 150 events each year worldwide.

Michael is a change agent.  He has the ability to consistently and successfully predict and detail changing market performances, trends and consumer behaviours, while motivating his business audiences to perform to a better personal standard.

Click here to view Michael’s video.


Speaker: Adrian Dobson

Adrian Dobson, the Royal Institute of British Architects’ (RIBA) Executive Director for Members, is the latest speaker confirmed for the BMF All Industry Conference in Budapest in June.

RIBA members are at the start of the design process that eventually drives product sales through builders merchants.  Yet this is the first time that a senior executive from the RIBA has presented at a BMF Conference.

In addition to working to improve the design quality of public buildings, new homes and new communities, the RIBA provides the standards, training, support and recognition that puts its 40,000 members as the peak of their profession.

Adrian, a Chartered Architect himself, leads all of the RIBA’s member-facing work and is helping to shape an organisation attuned to the times as the profession faces new challenges in response to significant societal, economic and technological change.  Adrian is also the author of 21 Things You Won’t Learn in Architecture School a helpful and entertaining guide to the realities of working in architectural practice. He will be adopting a similar approach in his Conference presentation, which will include a light-hearted look at the perception of architects through the eyes of merchants and vice versa.


Speaker: Sally Gunnell OBE

Sally completes a fantastic line up of speakers from the worlds of business, politics and sport.

Sally remains the only woman ever to hold four major track titles concurrently – Olympic, World, Europe and Commonwealth.  But her rise to the pinnacle of her sport was hard won.

She blew the chance to be World Champion in 1991, stormed back to win Olympic Gold in 1992 and defied incredible odds to become World Champion in 1993, setting a new World Record in the process. She contended with injuries, athletes that she saw as more naturally gifted and a relatively modest support infrastructure compared to her peers. Her success, by her own admission, was down to a firm grip over her own mind and a lot of very hard graft.

Speaker: Kenton Cool

Kenton Cool, one of the world’s leading high altitude climbers, will draw on his experience of leading summit expeditions to offer insights into leadership in extreme moments at the BMF All Industry Conference in Budapest in June.

Kenton has climbed all over the world, establishing new routes and first ascents of peaks in Alaska, France and India.  He is also one of the world’s most sought after guides and has successfully climbed Everest twelve times, including an ascent leading the explorer, Sir Ranulph Fiennes.

His years in the mountains have taught him how to face and overcome his own challenges as well as how to bring out the best and inspire belief in those around him.