Letters from America

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By Damian Walters, BiKBBI CEO

It’s been a busy start to 2022 for the organisation, with two trips to the US, an Annual Conference in Westminster and our first ever awards ceremony in celebration of installation excellence across the nation!

So the burning question is… why bother with any of it?

I had an email from a disgruntled member, stating that we should have “used the money spent on the awards to give members a discount on next years membership fees”!

Not one to ignore such an email, I got in touch personally to explain that the awards were paid for by sponsors and that an awards programme is an important way to recognise installation excellence – not only for those awarded today, but to also it being a tool to attract future generations of installers.

Our investment is the same when it comes to America.

Two trips to the USA, New York and Florida in quick succession, most definitely took it’s toll on my ageing body, but an invitation from The National Kitchen & Bath Association (NKBA) and their KBIS exhibition was worth every effort (and sleepless, jet-lagged night’s since).

What is clear is that the challenges we face in terms of both the industry COVID recovery and our ongoing problem with a lack of skilled labour is shared between our great nations.

In fact, the issue we face are global and not exclusive to either the UK or US either.

We can face these problems alone, or we can collaborate and work together to solve these issues in unison. We added a strap line to our logo on 2020, being ‘Together Stronger’, and it’s an ethos I firmly believe in.

The NKBA and the American culture is very much of a ‘get on with it’ one and for me, this is not only admirable, but absolutely necessary. We have to fix this issue and we must do this at pace.

Talking about it isn’t good enough and immediate action is therefore critical. We can learn a lot from our American cousins and no doubt they will from us too.

I was interviewed by Simon Acres whilst in the US, which I’d say is well worth a watch – This compliments Andy Davies special podcast live from the BiKBBI Conference.

More to report from the American trips to follow, so watch this space!

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