St Helens-based managers take centre stage in national campaign

Joanne Callow
Joanne Callow

Two managers from St Helens-based Knauf Insulation are taking centre stage in a national campaign to raise awareness of career opportunities in the building materials sector.

Merchant Sales Support Manager, Joanne Callow and John Gaunt, Commercial Manager, have been appointed Industry Ambassadors by national trade body the Builders Merchants Federation (BMF).

John Gaunt

John Gaunt

Under the initiative, Joanne and John will help spread the word about careers in the building materials sector.

Representing a significant part of the national economy, the BMF has 684 merchant and supplier companies in its membership, who have combined sales of £31.4 billion and employ more than 128,000 people.

Yet despite its scope and scale, the industry is often under the radar when considering career options.

The two Knauf Insulation representatives will play key roles in helping to address that, by getting over the message that the unique environment in the building materials industry – in both builders’ merchants and materials suppliers – leads to the creation of rewarding employment opportunities and career pathways.

As part of the initiative, Joanne and John appear on the new BMF careers’ website, Building Materials Careers, developed to showcase the professional and trade-based opportunities at

The website includes information on the qualifications and career routes available to new recruits, including apprenticeships, diplomas and foundation degrees, in a diverse range of roles including HR, finance, driving, engineering, design, warehouse and storage, as well as sales and marketing.

Joanne, who is also Vice Chair of the BMF Young Merchants Group, said: “I am passionate about the industry, having come from a retail and customer service background.

“It is very welcoming but often perceived as a ‘male’ industry, so I am keen to highlight that young women should not be discouraged from stepping into the world of construction and merchanting.”

John added: “I have worked in the construction industry for 29 years and it has been a privilege.

“The ambassador programme is a great opportunity to help guide others to consider the opportunities in this great industry.

“Young people don’t always know the choices before them or what they want to do, so I’d like to help them see the benefits of working in a builders’ merchant or materials supplier as I believe it is something that could really inspire them.”

John Newcomb, CEO of the BMF said: “Our ambassador programme sees people from the ranks of the Federation’s membership help to promote the opportunities offered by the industry to students and job-seekers.

“It’s a hugely important role and we are delighted to have both Joanne and John on board to support the initiative.

“Many people don’t associate the building materials industry with a clear and exciting career path, but there’s a wealth of opportunities available and people with determination and ambition will find that their efforts are well-rewarded.”