Q&A: Paul McMenamin, Bassetts’ NI Sales Director

We talk shop with Bassetts' high-performing Sales Director....

Bassetts' Sales Director, Paul McMenamin.

Paul McMenamin joined Bassetts atthe start of his professional career, rising through the  ranks to become Sales Director for Northern Ireland’s largest bathroom, heating and tile company. The award-winning plumbers’ merchant has been providing quality bathroom supplies and furniture to trade customers for over 40 years. Founded in Armagh, Bassetts now has a total of 17 trade counters and bathroom showrooms across Northern Ireland.

What are the main priorities and goals in your role?
My role is dynamic and requires me to be flexible and adaptable as circumstances arise. However, I see my key priority and core role as strategically providing the mechanisms and structures to enable our branch managers and sales teamto provide our customers with the best product solutions, technical support and service available.

What was your first proper job?
I’ve spent practically all my professional life with Bassetts, initially joining a small team in the Omagh branch working on the trade counter and making deliveries. At that point, Bassetts consisted of three branches and around 30 people compared to where we are positioned today, operating across 17 sites with 150+ people in the company.

What are your biggest challenges as Sales Director at Bassetts?
This year aside, Bassetts operate in an incredibly competitive market. Our installer customers are very knowledgeable, so it’s imperative we provide those customers with competitive, quality solutions, which are supported by industry-leading technical capability and stocks. We also aim to provide customers with a consistently high level of service across all our network of branches.

What inspires you to go to work every day?
We are fortunate over the years to have built up very good relationships with a lot of our installer customers. That experience gives us an understanding of just how challenging the installers job can be and if we can make that even slightly easier by supporting them with good quality solutions delivered on time and complete then that is very rewarding. This has been particularly evident through the pandemic, and there have been many late night or Sunday openings to provide parts for health care or nursing home emergencies. I have been very proud of how we have responded to support our local communities.

How do you like to fill your spare time?
Sport is a great therapy for both body and mind, so I vent any frustrations on football fields or doing badly at triathlons and CrossFit.

As a business leader, describe your best three qualities.
I hope our customers and my colleagues would say I am someone they can depend on, and that I have a positive, enthusiast presence. I conduct myself in a straightforward manner. Frommy perspective, I feel that having worked right up through our company I understand our strengths and core values so I try to ensure we keep our focus clearly on our customers.

And your worst?
Impatience. I’m working on this, but I think the school report (and my wife) would say, “must try harder”.

What has been the most satisfying moment in your career?
I get a real buzz from supporting the progression and development of people inside our business. Helping people to progress into new roles and seeing them flourish is incredibly satisfying.

If you could work in a completely different sector/industry, what would it be, and why?
I have a lot of friends who are health care professionals and watching the selfless work they have done in 2020, in the most difficult of circumstances, has been humbling and inspiring.

How do you keep your team/staff motivated?
Bassetts are exceptionally lucky with the quality and dedication of people in our branch teams. They take huge pride in doing the best for their customers every single day, and this passion and commitment keeps us all on our toes.

What are the challenges facing the industry going forward?
Where to start with continuing to work and live with Covid-19 and the Brexit deadline looming with no deal currently in place! It’s a challenging time for the construction sector, and we have to continue to strategically plot our way through the hazards.

What new trends are emerging in your industry?
The meaningful introduction of renewable technologies will be the single biggest evolution in our sector here. Installers and self-builders are asking what opportunities and advantages renewable heating offers them.

With the large rural population we have here, renewable heating solutions are perfectly tailored to the self-build market, future-proofing homes for years to come. Providing there is the type of catalyst from our local Government that we can see is happening in other jurisdictions, I can see the demand for these technologies increase.

What advice would you give to someone aspiring to your position?
Focus on your customers and work hard to gain their trust and exceed their expectations.

How has Covid-19 impacted your sales strategy?
Our strategy throughout these unprecedented times has been to try and support our customers and colleagues as best and as safely as we can. I am hugely proud of the efforts of those colleagues who worked tirelessly from March to support our sector.

We will continue to carefully plot our way through the pandemic focusing on the needs of our customers and implementing structures and supports to keep everyone safe.

How do you define success, and what drives you to succeed?
The biggest compliment any customer can pay us is to trust us with their business. Having long-serving staff that work closely with the same customers over many years is a significant complement to the quality of our business. These relationships, built on trust developed over time, are a great driver for us to continue to push forward and improve for both our colleagues and our customers.

If you could employ anybody from the worlds of business or sport on your team who would it be and why? 
I am a big Irish Rugby fan. I have often thought a Paul O’Connell team talk would make our management meetings a little more exciting!

What have been the highlights of your career at Bassetts since you joined?
Supporting the expansion of the business, most recently with the acquisition of Clady and our opening in Enniskillen, have been hard work but hugely rewarding. We have had great people join the Bassetts team and met lots of new customers along the way.

What’s the best advice you’ve been given, or would give, in business?
Two pieces of advice come to mind. Firstly – a successful sales business is dependent on having happy and loyal customers, so it should focus acutely on its core role and ignore distractions. Secondly – when making decisions for the company, do so as if you were spending your own money!

What’s next for Bassetts?
Bassetts are in the fortunate position of having great people in the organisation who are passionate about, and genuinely strive to support, our customers. Working closely with these people makes me feel confident that Bassetts remain well placed to continue to develop and grow, particularly as new sustainable technologies evolve.

I look forward to supporting the business and its people in any way I can through the next phase of growth.

Bassetts Head Office, Mahon Industrial Estate, Portadown, Co. Armagh
T: +44 (0)28 3839 5250
E: info@bassettsonline.com