Professional Builder’s Lee Jones reports on a tradesman who has ambitions to build a community of trust between businesses and consumers.
The story of Garry Lewis will be an all-too familiar tale for many in the industry. “I’d left school with no qualifications and built up a very successful company,” explains the 55 year old. “My business was thriving and I had six gangs of roofers on the payroll when, without warning, we were hit by the collapse of a construction company who owed my firm a lot of money.”
The seismic shocks that insolvency can send through the supply chain, sinks otherwise water-tight businesses on a regular basis, and Garry was left depressed and suicidal in the aftermath. “The irony is that I personally had always sought to do the right thing in my own working practices and strive to make the client or property owner feel as comfortable as possible. Because of a lack of school as a young man I couldn’t read or write very well – and maths was also a big problem – but I learnt those skills so that I could produce professional and reliable quotes for customers. We were never the cheapest, but I would also counter that by insisting that we’d do the best possible job. I’d encourage a prospective client to make sure they get quotes from other roofers, and I wouldn’t accept payment for any part of the job until we had finished and they were entirely satisfied.”
Garry’s business ethos was based on trust, and a relationship of equality on both sides, and his new online community has ambitions to nurture and promote that culture throughout the industry. Having been financially hit by the kind of knock that almost every tradesperson has suffered, he set about devising a plan to reform what he sees as the construction sector’s ills.
Garry has created a Facebook page and website called, Recommended Tradespeople, which is used to communicate with consumers, tradespeople, and merchants and talk about the issues in the industry. He also shares his plans for what needs to be done to create a better and safer environment for everybody.
Phase one of the practical implementation of Garry’s vision is the launch of his online service, Recommend & Share. The platform is not-for-profit and is free for property owners and tradespeople to join and use – a principle that Garry has pledged will be maintained. The web-based community allows consumers and tradespeople to make a commitment to one another to seek and share reciprocal recommendations. Within it, both parties agree from the outset to seek each other’s recommendations and then share them for everybody to see. “It’s a space where everybody values, respects, and appreciates one another, whilst championing the genuine consumers, tradespeople, and sub-contractors, and helping them to stand out and be recognised for their integrity and workmanship” Garry enthsues. “There will be a pool of highly visible companies that anyone interested in a home improvement can draw from, and the builder can more accurately anticipate the kind of experience they’re going to have with the customer.”
“My inspiration is from my own experience of being the victim of an unscrupulous contractor, and other people’s stories,” concludes the Lincolnshire-based tradesman. “As a consequence, I want to help and support builders to avoid the pitfalls, make a difference in their lives, and help their business to be a success.”
For further information on the Recommend & Share online platform visit www.recommendandshare.com