Home Flat Roofing Interview: Matthew Jones, Sales Director at Jones & Woolman

Interview: Matthew Jones, Sales Director at Jones & Woolman

Established over 45 years ago, Jones & Woolman (J&W) specialises in weatherproofing penetrations, offering a complete design, manufacture and installation package for high-end projects such as data centres and modular buildings. We caught up with Sales Director Matthew Jones to discuss how the company has moved from a ‘fixer’ to an educator, and the challenges around digitalisation, modernisation and recruitment…

Total Contractor (TC): How has your role in the construction supply chain changed?
Matthew Jones (MJ): Traditionally, we were called in when something went wrong with weatherproofing penetrations. It’s how we earned our nickname amongst clients as the ‘fourth emergency service’.

While it’s good to be the ‘go to company’ to fix difficult problems, it’s far from ideal. The problem is penetrations are not seen as the responsibility of either the architect or the M&E Consultant, so they may not have been planned into the schedule which can impact budgets and timelines.

Now we are working in partnership with architects and building services designers to ensure weatherproofing penetrations are considered at the design stage. We’re also in the process of producing a white paper explaining how to mitigate risks such as water ingress and the performance gap.

It’s having a positive effect. Architects are consulting us as part of their specification process. It means we take responsibility for the weatherproofing, energy efficiency, and aesthetics of all penetrations from the start. And we can undertake last minute positional changes without impacting other trades or delaying the schedule of works, which helps main contractors deliver on time and on budget.

“I learnt to listen to clients and manage expectations about what could realistically be achieved within the budget and timescale while still achieving the client’s objectives”

TC: Although you’re the third generation ‘Jones’ at J&W, you started your career in technology not construction. Has that helped you in your current role?
MJ: Yes, I started my career with CAPGemini and it gave me a good grounding in business. I worked on the Wilko account, which involved a lot of change management as they transitioned to a new SAP system.

That experience was invaluable. I was just 19 and became comfortable managing up as well as down. I learnt to listen to clients and manage expectations about what could realistically be achieved within the budget and timescale while still achieving the client’s objectives.

And it helped me to understand how we could bring the power of digitalisation to J&W by using technology to streamline the business’s operations and make it more efficient and effective.

Above: Complex service riser weatherproofed in London.

“We’ve gone from receiving complaints about our communication to being praised for it”

TC: Digitalisation is a big topic in construction. How has technology changed how J&W work?
MJ: When I joined J&W, orders were written by hand and paperwork was duplicated in multiple places. This, together with the last minute nature of our work, meant it was difficult to schedule our teams correctly. We ended up rearranging jobs at the last minute and were rightly criticised by our customers for poor communication.

Now we’ve invested in an integrated end-to-end CRM system. Information about every contract is stored in one place and can be accessed by the team wherever they are. We can share the right information with clients to ensure the traceability and accountability of the solutions that have been designed, manufactured and installed.

Now we have a 360 degree picture of what’s happening within our business. Our scheduling has improved and it means we are much more professional in how we operate. We’ve gone from receiving complaints about our communication to being praised for it.

“Of course the other challenge with growth is recruitment”

TC: What is J&W’s biggest challenge?
MJ: Sustainable growth. As is often the case for businesses that are growing, when I joined J&W everyone did everything. But it meant staff were overstretched and firefighting. Now we’ve created a more coherent structure and have dedicated roles for the design, project management, sales and contract teams.

As with any change, there was some pushback, but as soon as people saw results from this and the CRM System, they embraced the new way of working. They’re happier in their roles and as a business we’re streamlined and more efficient.
Of course the other challenge with growth is recruitment. We want to ensure our growth is sustainable, and need to be planning now so we have the right people trained and ready for when the projects we’re working on with architects now come on board.

The problem is, it’s very difficult to find and train staff using traditional routes because what we do is so niche. So our recruits learn the old fashioned way, alongside our experienced teams.

That said, while recruitment can be difficult, retention rates are good. A job with J&W is still a job for life. Many of our senior team started on the tools, and we’re investing in our new starters because they’re our future.


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