Louis Rowland, Regional Sales Manager in our construction and recycling division, tells us more about his background and what it has taken to work through a pandemic…
Tell us about your work history?
Having graduated from Nottingham Trent University in 2013, I went straight into a full time Sales role at Derby County Football Club where I already worked part time. In 2014, I was accepted onto the Pendragon graduate programme where I spent a year working in car sales at Stratstone Mini in Derby. In August 2015, I was successful in gaining a place on the first Close Brothers Asset Finance Training Academy, designed to bring through the next generation of sales staff. I was extremely happy when I was placed in the Construction and Recycling team as this was my first-choice sector to work in. I have now been with Close Brothers for 5 and a half years, having worked my way up from a Trainee Area Sales Manager to a Regional Sales Manager as of August 2020.
What do you find most rewarding and challenging about your role?
My role is very rewarding in a sense that I am able to help my customers businesses grow by providing the finance for asset purchases or raising capital for their business against the customers’ existing assets. We have had lots of good news stories in our team over the years and being a part of this is very rewarding and motivating not only for me but for our team as a whole.
The job can be challenging at times, especially when it comes to competing with other lenders in the market. There are many funders in the market, which are continuously increasing and provide the customers with various options when it comes to finance. Although this can be a challenge, I believe the Close Brothers way of working with our vision and values puts us in a fantastic place in the market to continue to grow our business in the future.
How has the Covid-19 pandemic affected your industry specifically?
In some ways, we have been lucky in our sector that since the start of the pandemic we only had a few weeks in the early stages of lockdown where our customers shut their doors. In comparison to other sectors, which have been hit much harder. We have remained in close contact with our customers throughout the pandemic and we, as a team, have done everything we can to assist with any issues or further lending they have required. Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme (CBILS) has been a fantastic scheme allowing us to provide our customers with financial support to businesses that have seen a loss in revenue or cash flow disruption since the start of the Covid-19 outbreak.
How have you and your team ensured the wellbeing of both staff and customers throughout lock down?
Our Construction and Recycling team have been in regular contact throughout the pandemic either via telephone or video calls. We have a full team meeting on a Monday morning which gives us a chance to discuss work related subjects as well as making sure we have the social interactions which help us feel well connected and supported. We have also held internal video calls on Friday afternoons arranged by the CEO, which have been a great way to catch up with all our staff members and find out what’s going on in other sectors of the business.
With regards to my customers, I have been in regular contact to make them aware that I am always at the end of the phone if they require any assistance or would just like general chat as we aren’t able to get out to see them as much as we would like during the pandemic. It is vital that we do our best to support customers in this difficult time.
What are your predictions for your industry for the next 12 months?
I, as I’m sure everyone is, am hoping for a more positive 12 months in the Construction and Recycling sector. As the Covid-19 vaccine rolls out we would like to think things will slowly be returning to normal. Having spoken to many of my customers who have taken advantage of the CBILS scheme, the majority of them believe that post Covid-19 trading levels will not only return to normal, but they also predict increased levels of trading. HS2 is a project that will see our sector thrive with billions of pounds worth of contracts available in our sector.