Tobermore's Driveway Masterclass
Since the introduction of the government's comedy front garden paving legislation back in October of last year, several manufacturers have tried to support their contractor customers in various ways. There have been 3-hour training courses, seminars that are more sales pitch than instruction, half-hearted handouts, informal briefings and, from a small number of companies, shrugged shoulders and a vague suggestion to check this website.
Tobermore in mainland Britain have adopted an interesting strategy: after-work short seminars, the first one being held at their Leyland Paving Centre just off J28 of the M6 in deepest Lancashire last Thursday evening.
Starting at 6pm with a guaranteed finish by 7:30, the aim is to cram as much information (along with free tater pie and peas) as is possible into an intense session that should give each of the attending contractors sufficient information to remove the fear that seems to afflict many of us when it comes to permeable paving, but also to illustrate a number of 'workarounds' that will enable them to continue to lay conventional paving that fully complies with the new regulations.
It's illuminating to witness just how much ground can be covered in 90 minutes. Admittedly, there's no extended examination of some of the calculations that can be made, or explanation of how the 6-2mm grit laying course doesn't lose itself into the close graded aggregate, but then do contractors really need to know all of that? Tobermore's answer seems to be to persuade the contractors to concentrate on the laying and leave the professionals to do all the worrisome mathematics. Allow the contractor to win the work, and the manufacturer will get their qualified engineers to do all the calculations, culminating in a ready-to-go design telling the contractor just what needs to be done to create the perfect permeable pavement.
Among many other useful tips and suggestions presented during the sprint finish, there's a very useful 10-minute permeability assessment procedure prepared by the illustrious Professor John Knapton that is simple enough to be undertaken by one of the labourers while the brains of the outfit completes the measuring-up of the job.
Unlike some other 'presentations', this rapid run-through doesn't try to convince that permeable paving is the only solution. It's keenly focussed on how contractors can meet the requirements of the new legislation using whatever form of paving their client prefers. In some cases that may well be CBPP, but in the vast majority of projects to date, a simple on-site soakaway is often the most straightforward and cost-effective option.
Tobermore's decision to set the price of their permeable paving to match that of the conventional counterpart is bound to help sell CBPP. From now on, Tegula Permeable is the same price as regular Tegula; Shannon Permeable is the same price as regular Shannon; Pedesta Permeable is the same….you get the picture!
It's a great idea: while many contractors would struggle to find even half-a-day to attend a training course, 90 minutes after work, with a free feed thrown in, is acceptable to many, and with almost 30 contractors attending the first event, it seems to be a formula that works.
Yes: the presentation is rushed and intense, and it probably tries to cover too much in too short a time, but as more evenings are staged, this will inevitably sort itself out. There needs to be more time for questions from the contractors, and a working model would be immensely useful, but the overall concept – short, sharp and succinct, is a real winner, and one that could be adapted to so many other aspects of business improvement for contractors.