"I wrote these words in 1995, since when Howdens has grown from nothing... no name, no product, no building, no staff to 8,000 staff, more than 600 depots and more than 400,000 accounts in 20 years. A winning formula that everyone connected with can call their own, and a philosophy that can grow."
Matthew Ingle, Chief Executive
Howdens solves problems for small builders doing joinery work ... it's about fitting into their society and not letting them down ... associating with people who run their own business... it means a lot. Our customers don't get paid until a job is complete and satisfactory and that means: it looks good, meets standards, is easy to fit, doesn't break, is available locally and when required.
Howdens offers credit terms, gives builders a confidential discount, excludes retail, swaps items, has a welcoming trade environment, and motivates and retains staff - customers always see the same faces. It's about trust; there's no room for fairy stories.
To achieve this, we have to be very important to our suppliers, so we can offer best prices and quality and always have stock available. That means having great suppliers who share our philosophy.
It also means having extremely motivated and well paid staff. This is a entrepreneurial manager-driven business with low central overheads. Tradesmen are entrepreneurs. They are not interested in, and don't benefit from, a big central office. Howdens does not offer a huge hierarchy for the ambitious corporate politician mountaineer... rather an extremely satisfying well paid job for committed individuals.
I set out to make Howdens feel like home. The sort of business our customers' fathers used and were proud to buy from. I hope our children and our customers' children use Howdens too and feel the same way. As good as it ever was.