Huws Gray & GCS Associates

Huws Gray is the UK’s largest independent builders’ merchant, supplying building materials to trade and DIY customers from over 100 locations across the UK.

GCS Associates and Huws Gray have worked together successfully on various recruitment projects and roles. Most recently Huws Gray have been growing their teams even further, and kindly took part in ‘The GCS Pledge’. GCS started the pledge in December 2020 to help the many people made unemployed due to the pandemic. 

Michael Parry, Managing Director, GCS;
“GCS were in a unique position last year where we could genuinely help some of those suffering due to Covid related redundancies. We approached Huws Gray late last year to explain the idea behind the GCS Pledge of 21 and we were delighted they took part. If we were able to get a few people back into employment whilst helping fill critical roles for the likes of Huws Gray free of charge, we were happy to be fulfilling our pledge ambitions.”

Terry Owen, Managing Director, Huws Gray;
“GCS reached out to Huws Gray just before Christmas about their pledge to get people made redundant due to the pandemic back into employment.  To offer up their time and resources without charge I found highly commendable and we were happy to support this worthwhile initiative.  I am pleased to say we have our first GCS Pledge candidate due to start with us soon.”

Chris Joyce, Area Manager, Huws Gray;
We are very pleased to support such a worthwhile initiative in the GCS Pledge. There aren’t many recruitment companies who are going above and beyond to help people back into work, completely free of charge and we’re proud to support this. We’ve now employed two people into the Huws Gray family via the pledge and are really happy with these new employees.”

GCS have gone on to continue working with Huws Gray in 2021 and having ties with North Wales, GCS are pleased to be partnering with a business that originated from that part of the UK.  From humble beginnings, the growth of Huws Gray has been fantastic to witness in recent years and with the news announced on the 1st July about the acquisition of the Grafton brand, it must be the biggest deal of its kind and massive news for our sector. 


GCS Associates are specialist consultancy providing talent acquisition and staffing solutions to the building materials, construction, technical & engineering sectors. With over 15 years’ experience partnering with a wide range of businesses from FTSE 100s to SME’s & smaller independent businesses – we simply provide the right talent to the best organisations.

Sunbelt Rentals & GCS Associates

Creating Consistent Processes and Candidate Engagement

Sunbelt’s team of specialists provide rental equipment and managed solutions into every market and sector, and are part of the FTSE100 Ashtead Group plc, the global leader in equipment rental. Sunbelt has over 500 employees in the UK.

Sunbelt were looking for a select number of recruitment partners that they could trust. Sunbelt are a large organisation and due to volume, timescale and specialist focus they use GCS to help attract the right talent within tight deadlines. GCS became Sunbelt’s trusted recruitment partner by forging genuine relationships and bringing in time and cost efficiencies by successfully finding talent, quickly and efficiently.

Tracy Edwards, Recruitment Manager, Sunbelt Rentals;
“When we tendered for our new PSL, quality was the most important aspect and selecting suppliers who would be our trusted partners, supporting the Sunbelt Rentals employer brand. GCS have worked with our hiring managers over several years to develop an in-depth understanding of our business and culture, ensuring that they place the right person in the right role. We have great relationships with the GCS team and confidence that they will deliver where we need their support in sourcing the best talent, including some of our most challenging vacancies to fill”

Working with Sunbelts internal recruitment function, GCS used the internal processes during
recruitment drives; resulting in increased communication, consistent candidate engagement and decreased time to hire. GCS also ensure ongoing compliance with regulations and employment legislation, and manage screening & vetting for every candidate, giving Sunbelt complete peace of mind.

Phil Leahy, Managing Director, Sunbelt Rentals:
“GCS have been working with Sunbelt Rentals for some time now on a number of key recruitment initiatives and we are very pleased with the outcomes. The team at GCS have a high level of integrity, show a genuine passion for people and, on several occasions have gone above and beyond in terms of their service offering to Sunbelt and we look forward to it continuing well into the future”

GCS have a recruitment fulfillment success rate of 92% across all roles including Sales, Management and Engineering roles as well as support and senior roles. GCS Associates’ expertise in directly sourcing candidates quickly has enabled the Sunbelt to not only achieve significant cost savings but has resulted in several critical hires for key projects.

Neil Driscoll, Regional Director, Sunbelt Rentals;
“GCS Associates played a key role when we were recruiting within my region. To date, they recruited several roles for us and saved myself & my managers considerable time and money by providing great candidates who were right, not only the role, but for our business culture too. I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend GCS if you have any recruitment requirements”

David Payne, Service Centre Manager, Sunbelt Rentals;
“Sunbelt have enjoyed a strong partnership with GCS Associates for many years. GCS have supported our recruitment drives and have brought significant improvements to the hiring process, producing excellent talent for us at different levels of the business. GCS is a recruitment partner we can really trust to get the job done, they thoroughly vet the candidates, fill our vacancies quickly and have great communication. If you are looking to recruit I can 100% recommend GCS Associates”

GCS Associates are specialist consultancy providing talent acquisition and staffing solutions to the building materials, construction, technical & engineering sectors. With over 15 years’ experience partnering with a wide range of businesses from FTSE 100s to SME’s & smaller independent businesses – we simply provide the right talent to the best organisations.

Senior Leader Interview 2021: Mark Nottingham, Travis Perkins

From Driver to Director, Mark Nottingham at Travis Perkins shares insight from his 40+ years in the Builders Merchant industry – discussing the positive changes in the areas of Diversity and Digitalisation, and why customers should always come first.

Where did you start your career?

I have worked in the industry for forty years – joining Travis Perkins when they acquired the Independent Merchant I was working for in the late 80s. I started out in the yard, but my first week was spent working with a sales representative – ringing customers & trying to sell products. Then in my second week, the Yard Foreman drilled into me that if a customer got out of his van and I wasn’t standing next to him ready to sell then I’d failed!

I hated my first two weeks at work. But it taught me customers were the reason I was there, and my job was the same as every other colleague – we were all there to sell stuff. That lesson has stayed with me all this time.

What has changed most in the industry over your career?

So much has changed over the years. When I was a Driver, we would unload products by hand due to access or quality of the crane. Now we have so many types of vehicles to meet customer requirements such as moffats and rear mounted cranes. Technology has moved on significantly and we’re keeping up with the demand from customers wanting to order online. This demand is only set to increase.

We are now an industry attracting so many great people from a far more diverse workforce which is such a rewarding step forward. With all genders in almost every job role from Drivers to Managing Directors, and we have colleagues from such a wide range of ethnic backgrounds and disabilities. Everyone is made to feel welcome and part of the team. This was not the case in my early years and is such a welcome transformation.

What’s been the highlight of your career so far?

The highlight of my career was becoming Regional Managing Director in 2001 and being responsible for about 180 Branches working with a team of about 7000 colleagues. I think I have always remained humble and treated all with respect and dignity, we are all one team, and we win together.

What advice would you give to someone starting out in the industry?

My advice to any new starters in the industry would is

“Come to work each day with a great attitude, make a difference and remember that customers are our day job – they are the reason we are here. Customers and suppliers will become your friends which will make your job rewarding. Aim as high as possible – you are in control of your journey so it’s up to you to realise your potential”.

What advice can you give leaders when managing businesses and teams through times of uncertainty?

The pandemic has hurt so many businesses, but the vast majority of Builders Merchants have come out of the other side even stronger. We are a very fortunate industry; our lockdown was short, and many builders carried on. During the pandemic it was critical that we gave strong and clear leadership, many colleagues were uncertain and were looking for help and direction.

We tried very hard to communicate on a regular basis on what’s being done, what needs to be done and what help was needed. It was a time for some bold decisions and using lockdown time to fix some of the things that you would never normally get around to.

What’s next for you?

I am now enjoying semi-retirement and working two days a week supporting Travis Perkins on some new initiatives which is very exciting. I have also taken up playing golf, so I hope I can use this to keep in close contact with many of my work friends.


t:  0161 660 2548

Meet The Team: Adam Hewitt, Recruitment Consultant

Tell us about your career so far?
After leaving University in Leeds I didn’t really have a plan. I studied Sport and Business Management then worked in an estate agent for a couple of years before spending a year travelling the world – which I’d recommend to everyone!

I then had the opportunity to join GCS where I have now worked for 5 years. I haven’t looked back, I love working within the recruitment industry and especially like working with the people within our specialist sectors across construction and merchants.

Why did you join GCS
I was looking for a new role and I was put in touch with Mike Parry, Managing Director at GCS. He sold me the dream of working in recruitment and helping find people new jobs! I was keen for a new challenge and after learning more about recruitment I realised there would never be a dull day.

After speaking with Mike I knew that GCS would be the right place for me to develop and be part of a growing business.

What are your main responsibilities at GCS?
Over the years my role has changed. Originally, my job was to source & screen candidates for the vacant roles briefed into GCS from clients. Building and maintaining good relationships with candidates is important given the niche sector and it’s what I enjoy most about the job. It’s always a good day when you can tell someone they have been successful in securing a new role!

In regard to sectors, I specialise within Builders Merchants and Equipment Hire companies and predominantly recruit for sales, management and engineering roles.

What kind of roles are you recruiting for?
Given the recovery and fast movement in the market right now, it’s no surprise many companies are investing in new talent within their sales teams. We have a number of internal sales, account management and business development roles available across the country at all levels.

It’s a candidate market right now so if you are looking to move jobs, please get in touch. There’s a lot of demand for talent within the sectors at the moment so now is the time to secure the new job and salary package you might be looking for.

What’s the best thing about working at GCS? 
GCS is also a really nice place to work – we’re given the trust and independence to manage our own days but help and support is always there when needed.

The best thing about my role securing new jobs for people! Being able to find the right person for our clients’ needs is important so it is always a great feeling when this happens.

What do you get up to outside of work?
Sport pretty much takes over outside of work however my girlfriend, Maisie and I are expecting a baby later in year which we are very pleased and excited about! At the moment, I play rugby at Wilmslow Wolves and try my hand at golf occasionally! Mike and I play tennis together too which can get quite competitive but I usually win!


t:  0161 660 2548

Sitemark & GCS Associates

GCS Supply Key Sales Hires to Accelerate Business Growth

Sitemark are a Facilities Management Consultancy undertaking benchmarking across all industries including health, local government and private sector organisations. They offer independent best practice benchmarking processes to support the facilities management services.

Sitemark needed to expand their sales capacity and recruit a Senior Sales role into their existing team to promote the growth of the business. Whilst based in Worcestershire, Sitemark have employees working on a flexible basis across the whole country and therefore wanted to search across the whole of the UK to find the best talent.

GCS Associates managed the whole process for Sitemark. Sourcing the candidates, arranging time slots for interview and most importantly, providing Sitemark with quality, rather than ‘quantity’ applicants. GCS were thorough, swift, and supported Sitemark – advising through every stage of the recruitment process.

Mike Boxhall, Managing Director, Sitemark commented;
“Our experience of working with GCS was excellent. We would have no hesitation in working with GCS Associates again in the future – they were thoroughly professional in every way.”

From the shortlist GCS Associates provided, Sitemark decided to hire 2 candidates. Here’s what the successful candidates had to say:

“GCS took a genuine, supportive and knowledgeable approach throughout the process. GCS guided me through the interviews and were very helpful and professional. I am incredibly grateful to GCS for helping me secure a new role with a great company. Highly recommended”

“GCS were very friendly and professional and kept frequent contact during the interview stage. Thank you for finding me such a great job! It’s probably the best experience I’ve had working with a recruiter”.

Michael Parry, Managing Director, GCS Associates commented;
“It was our first foray into the world of Facilities Management and Sitemark were a new client, so we had to make sure we understood the culture of the business and what type of person would be a fit for the role and their organization. In addition to this we had to have a crash course on the world of FM.

There was a great deal of interest in the role and the hardest element was deciding on the final shortlist. Ultimately, two great people were employed by Sitemark and we established a new relationship with a fantastic business that has an exceptional product and service offering.”

GCS Associates are specialist consultancy providing talent acquisition and staffing solutions to the building materials, construction, technical & engineering sectors. With over 15 years’ experience partnering with a wide range of businesses from FTSE 100s to SME’s & smaller independent businesses – we simply provide the right talent to the best organisations.


During COVID-19 many of our friends, colleagues and peers within the Construction & Building Supply sectors have been affected by redundancies. As specialist recruiters in these areas, GCS acted by pledging their recruitment services, free of charge, to help as many people as possible back into employment. GCS completed the pledge recently by getting 21 people back into employment for 2021

Michael Parry, GCS Managing Director explained; “The reasons we decided to launch the initiative were two-fold: Firstly, we were inundated with calls from great people in our sector, not used to finding themselves out of work, who found themselves in quite serious dire straits. Secondly, last year there was a very real sense of coming together within society, and this was equally prevalent within our sector.

A lot of our clients were making very generous charitable contributions and we wanted to do our bit.  We were in a unique position where we could really help some of those suffering due to Covid related redundancies.  If we were able to get a few people back into employment whilst helping fill critical roles for our clients free of charge, we were happy – we wanted to give back to our sector!”

Many businesses took part or supported the GCS Pledge – Travis Perkins, Huws Gray, GAP Group, Sunbelt Rentals, The Bradfords Group, Encon to name just a few. The Builders Merchant Federation also kindly supported GCS in spreading the message and whilst also helping run a similar scheme in the CLC’s Construction Industry Talent Retention scheme.

One of the final few pledge placements were made with Huws Gray, a leading independent builders merchants in North Wales & the North West. Huws Gray employed 2 people as part of the initiative and Terry Owen, Huws Gray Managing Director said;

“GCS reached out to us about their pledge to get people made redundant due to the pandemic back into employment.  To offer up their time and resources without charge I found highly commendable, and we were happy to support this worthwhile initiative.  I am pleased to say we have our GCS Pledge candidates working for us and we’re really happy with these new hires.”

Michael Parry, Managing Director, GCS

Having recently completed the pledge GCS want to thank everyone who supported the initiative. Michael Parry commented;

 “We are pleased we’ve contributed to help our sectors recover from the impact of COVID. 21 people isn’t a huge number, but we know it meant a huge amount to those few.  I would like to say a big thank you to the BMF for endorsing the pledge, thank you to all those businesses that supported the initiative and of course, a big congratulations to those people who have successfully embarked on their new career via the GCS Pledge of 21”



t:  0161 660 2548

Celebrating International Women’s Day: An Interview with Cath Mullin, Regional Director at The Bradfords Group

GCS Associates is proud to champion International Women’s Day 2021 and promote the on-going growth in diversity across our specialist sectors. We ask Cath Mullin, Regional Director at The Bradfords Group a few questions on her experience achieving success in the Building Supplies industry, and what advice she has for women entering the workforce today.

Where did you start your career?

I began my merchanting career in 1997 as a management trainee with Travis Perkins.  I only intended to take the job for 2 years as it gave me a HND in Business and saved me the time and money of going to University!  After a short amount of time, I realised how much I enjoyed the industry.  I was recognised by senior management and was given the opportunity to move into external sales, quickly progressing to sales management.  In 2013 I successfully applied for the Sales Director position in Travis Perkins South West & Wales Region.  I thoroughly enjoyed my time at Travis Perkins but moved on shortly after a restructure.  I joined Bradford’s in 2016, initially as a Sales Director and have since moved into a Regional Director role, covering my home patch of Devon & Cornwall.

What attracted you to this sector?

Initially I was attracted by the management trainee scheme but having now completed 24 years in the industry, I can safely say what keeps me firmly attracted to builders merchants are the people – colleagues and customers.  Every day is varied and has its challenges, but I have a great network of friends and colleagues who are there to help when needed.  Being female has never impeded my ability to progress whatsoever.

What advice did you receive early in your career that has stayed with you?

Go with your gut instinct, don’t procrastinate in taking decisive action.  Enjoy every day and find a positive in every experience.  There will always be ups and downs, but it is your gift to make each day count.  Have a great attitude and ask questions, this will develop knowledge and bring confidence to your future roles.

Are their challenges or opportunities in working in a male dominated, or what’s perceived to be a male dominated sector?

‎In this industry, experience and knowledge counts. In my early days, people would be inquisitive and ask “how does a young woman like you end up in a place like this?”. As time goes on and you prove yourself through hard work, commitment, and determination; people stop asking that question. ‎


‎The experience and knowledge develop confidence, your reputation begins to proceed you and people recognise that. I have never approached a situation thinking what my male counterparts would do, you approach it based on your experience, learning and personal development.

Leading people is the same regardless of industry, so if you can develop this talent – you’re winning!‎

Have you ever had a mentor?

I’ve never had one officially, however an old boss, who retired years ago, has always been on hand for guidance and support, when needed.  Equally my current friends and colleagues in both my present and previous employment have always been great in this area.

How important is Diversity and Inclusion to The Bradford’s Group?

Hugely important.  We have many young women working in our business and not just the stereotypical admin roles, most of my great sales teams include women and they are certainly a match for their male counterparts!!

On International Women’s Day, what is the most important message you want to send out to young women thinking about their careers or is there anything else you’d like to share?

Be Brave, Be Confident.  Stay strong and determined and anything is possible.

Ask questions and think about the people at the centre of every decision your make.  Find your way to be the best people person you can, and this will help in absolutely any career you choose.

Looking for a new challenge or to recruit in 2021?
Contact Michael Parry: 

t:  0161 660 2548

Don’t put your Career in Construction on Hold Because of COVID-19

For many of us, life feels like it is on hold now. We are going through the motions, getting through the day to day, just waiting for the end of the COVID-19 pandemic so we can hit reset and begin normal life again.

We hear this all the time from our candidates. People who were planning their ambitious career plans before the pandemic struck, talented people with in-demand skills within the Construction, Building Supplies & Hire sectors, have put all ambitions on hold.

“There’s too much uncertainty.”

We understand. Limiting risk is a natural response in difficult times. The media is full of stories about the damage the COVID-19 is doing to the economy as well as to people’s health, with job losses and many construction projects on hold. It doesn’t take much to see why people feel safer staying where they are.

But that doesn’t mean putting your career plans on hold is right decision. In fact, there are good reasons why you should think again about resurrecting those plans.

There is no time like the present

12 months ago, we didn’t think the pandemic would still be impacting our lives in such a significant way. COVID-19 is likely to have changed working practices and socialising for ever. Whether it gets better or worse in the coming months, if you had reasons for wanting to make a change in your career pre-pandemic then have those reasons changed? If you are still looking for a better salary, improved training and development or a bigger challenge, then why hold back? There are opportunities available within our sectors at every level.

The Construction, Hire and Engineering sectors are buoyant

The truth is, opportunities are still in demand within these sectors. We found in our recent market survey than 80% of employers are continuing with their growth plans in 2021.

Advertised job roles have moved back to pre-pandemic levels and will only continue on this trajectory as the economy moves back to normality.

Think 2-3 years ahead, to get ahead

Similarly, the companies that are planning now and pushing forward with transformative digital change and investment are likely to be the outfits that will lead the way in their field over the next two to three years. We’re living through a time of profound change. If you want to get on board with the winners in that process, the time to act is now.

Have confidence

With remote-working now the norm, and an ever-increasing focus on work-life balance & personal development, now is the time to consider whether you can see your career thrive at your current company or whether a move would be the best thing for your future. With little opportunity for micro-management in the current climate, if you are good at your job, have ambition and the right attitude, a new job opportunity in 2021 could be your time to shine.


t:  0161 660 2548


As part of our Senior Leadership interview series, we interview Andrew Harrison. Andrew has a distinguished career spanning 41 years working within the Merchant Industry. With a wealth of senior leadership experience behind him, Andrew shares his views on careers and leadership in the Merchant Industry.

Where did you start your career?

I left school with two career options. Should I join a growing supermarket business called Tesco or join a local Builders Merchant called Graham Reeves? I think we can all guess the route I chose. In my career, I have only ever worked for 3 businesses over 41 years. Firstly, Graham Reeves for 9 years, secondly Sharpe and Fisher for 10 years, who were then bought by Travis Perkins. I worked across various Travis Perkins group owned businesses, building my career and experience until now, when I retire from my role as Chief Executive Officer of the groups Plumbing & Heating businesses.

I never looked back, the merchant industry is a great industry to work in and gives people, no matter what their background, a real opportunity to succeed through hard work and dedication.

In the past few years I’ve also held various non-executive director roles, most notably the Builders Merchant Federation which was a great pleasure to be involved in.

What has changed most in the industry over your career?

The internet, without a doubt. It’s changing the way we all have do business and it has made pricing hyper visible. We live in the age of the disruptor – Amazon, Screwfix, etc. and digitalisation has made a huge impact on the way buyers behave. Simply, it has made selecting and buying products easier and more convenient for the customer.

There’s no doubt that COVID-19 has accelerated the move to online trading for most merchants, maybe moving the industry on by five years in just twelve months, that pace of change is unlikely to ease off.

What’s been the highlight of your career so far?

Quite simply, the people I’ve worked with have been the highlight. It’s one of the few industries where people can come into an organisation from college or school get great support and industry backed training and, with the right attitude, can go right to the top if that’s what they want.

Over my career, I have taken real pleasure in developing people and helping them succeed. And it’s great to watch these careers grow and progress over the years.

What advice would you give to someone starting out in the industry?

I would not hesitate in recommending anyone, regardless of background, to come and work within one of the many areas that the Merchant Industry has to offer. And it’s not just careers within the branches I’m thinking about, but also IT, Finance, Multichannel, Marketing, HR, Legal, Supply Chain, etc. These are important roles in helping a modern merchant be successful.

Regardless of education or background if you come into merchanting and work hard you will be rewarded. And those who have real drive and an entrepreneurial spirit (and a bit of luck) can rise to the top or start their own business.

What advice can you give leaders when managing businesses and teams through times of uncertainty?

Across my career, I’ve been through various recessions and times of uncertainty and, from experience, I believe there are 3 main things to focus on during times of crisis.

1.Stay focused on your customer. Understand what they need and adapt to provide that product or service. And this is true even in business as usual. Supply and demand changes so much, it’s so important to understand when to change to suit the market.

2. Your people are key. Keeping your teams motivated and engaged is vital, but I cannot stress enough the importance of good, honest communication. COVID-19 again has changed the way we all communicate, and good use of video calls can help greatly, especially with remote teams.

3. Manage your cashflow carefully. Costs need to be rigorously controlled and managed during harder times and if you can invest for the future, do so.

What’s next for you?

I’m excited to be joining the team at Lords Trading Group as a non-executive director starting in March 2021. And I’m sure I’ll stay involved in an industry that I love and hopefully make a difference.


t:  0161 660 2548


In November, we created The GCS Pledge with the aim of helping at least 21 people back into work for 2021 by supplying our recruitment services for free.

We are proud to announce we’ve now placed 10 people back into employment, just in time for Christmas. We created The GCS Pledge because so many talented individuals have lost their jobs due to COVID-19, and we’ve not only had support from our client base but from the Builders Merchant Federation who have helped promote this great initiative.

Our 10th placement was for Gap Group. We found Lee Justice a new role at Gap Group and he’s even been able to start his new job before Christmas. Lee commented;

“I’m really pleased to have found a new role at Gap Group and to start before Christmas is fantastic. Being made redundant was a huge concern as I’ve never been out of work before. I wasn’t used to it and you start worrying about so many different things, especially with Christmas coming up. I’m so grateful to have been part of the GCS Associates initiative, The GCS Pledge 21 for 2021, has got me back into work and eased those worries, pure and simple! Thank you GCS!”

Established in 1969, GAP Hire Solutions is the UK’s leading independent equipment hire company.  Lee joins the businesses 600+ employees who work across 140 locations across the UK. Lisa Davidson, Recruitment Advisor at Gap said,

“We are so pleased to be involved in the GCS Pledge. This is a great initiative from GCS who are giving up their time and resources free of charge, helping people who’ve lost their jobs due to COVID-19 get back into employment.  We’ve recently employed a candidate as part of the pledge.

We’ve now got a good person into the business and the pledge has helped someone back into employment in time for Christmas.  It’s a fantastic initiative and Gap Group are proud to support it to help as many people as possible back into work in 2021”

A big thank you to Gap Group and all other businesses that have supported the pledge and enabled us to get people back into work. We are now looking to 2021 and helping more people back into employment. We need a minimum of 11 more placements to hit of pledge total.

If you would like to be part of The GCS Pledge and use our recruitment services, completely free of charge, please get in touch. Together, we can help get as many people as many back into work in 2021.


t:  0161 660 2548