MKM Ashford Director Tom Rose was recently working for a competitor in the area but felt he needed a new challenge, something more fulfilling. Having been aware of MKM, the UK’s largest independent builders merchant, through a previous role, he approached the company to discuss setting up his own Kent-based branch.
“To be honest, it all happened so fast. Having met the MKM team up in Hull, I instantly got a good feel for the business alongside the reputation I was already familiar with,” said Tom Rose, Director, MKM Ashford. “We came to an agreement and on the journey back from that, I was already making calls to enquire about suitable locations for the branch. From that initial meeting to opening our doors, MKM as a whole has been fantastic and incredibly supportive. It’s reassuring and exciting for me because I’ve been invested in it as an individual.”
Tom started his merchant journey 14 years ago, working out on the yard, and quickly worked his way up into an office role and then management at various building merchants. But, when the opportunity to run his own independent business arose, it highlighted the possible next stage of his career. Seeking a business partner and co-branch director to join him, there could only be one person for the job…
“My dad was always going to be my business partner and co-branch director. I don’t think I’d have done this with anyone else. He’s got decades of experience and previously worked for the same merchant as me, but in a different branch. Between us, we’ve got a solid understanding of the industry, experience to help our customers and an understanding of the building, DIY and construction landscape across Kent, which is a combination you can’t get elsewhere” explained Tom.
“Tom approached me to be his business partner and I was always going to say yes, because I trust him and his judgement,” said John Rose, Director, MKM Ashford. “I knew of MKM too and had heard good things about it like the independent set-up, so didn’t need too much convincing.”
Tom is excited to be undertaking this venture alongside his family and MKM, explaining the values he holds close in what will help make a successful business. “I’m a big believer in being honest, fair and open to both customers and staff. This helps with staff retention, happiness and affects customer’s experiences too. We have been lucky enough to use our knowledge of the area and employ an extremely experienced and capable team, with some having even left competitor roles to come and work for us – believing in what we are trying to implement here.” Continued Tom. “In addition to a cohesive team, we have myself, my dad, my partner and our dog Beau all based at the branch, so there truly is a family feel about the place. This helps from a customer perspective too, knowing they’re coming into a positive, friendly environment and can expect a high standard of service while being treated like a friend.”
“Our goal is to build a profitable store around a happy team and satisfied customer base” continued John. “Our staff are key to the success of this goal and all 15 have been hand picked to bring something different to the dynamic we have here. That’s what we’re aiming to achieve here, a quick, dynamic and reactive customer service experience that other merchants struggle to achieve and lose business over.”
For Tom, setting up a branch in the competitive Ashford marketplace is no easy task, but between him and father John, believes it is something that can not only be achieved, but even surpass those around MKM Ashford. “Success for us would be to be seen as the market leader in Ashford and the wider Kent area, offering the best customer service and having a branch that grows naturally alongside that reputation,” Tom continues. “In fact, we’re already looking at immediate growth opportunities with more staff being considered and further delivery trucks being ordered to satisfy demand.”
Already using experience and contacts to develop a customer base, Tom is happy with the initial response from tradespeople in the area. “We’ve had a good amount of custom and been able to help at every opportunity. In fact, just recently a customer came in angry as he had visited a competitor and was ignored for ages. Disgruntled, he then came to see us, was served immediately, opened up an account and we delivered his order the very same day. You’re right to assume he’s since been back… quite a few times!”
When not working at the new branch, Tom spends time with his partner, Sadie who also works in the branch and his daughter too, all while somehow finding time to catch a Liverpool game when time allows. Meanwhile, John is renovating his sizable garden, which includes a large wooded area, and, when he’s not on the golf course, enjoys the father-son footballing rivalry between Tom’s Liverpool side and John’s Wolverhampton Wanderers.
The pair are extremely driven in their bid to succeed in offering Ashford value, service and friendship to be envied across the county and have at their disposal all the tools, support and team members to make that possible.