Meet the Distributor - Marc Halsey - Cromwell Tools

Established over 50 years ago, Cromwell Tools is one of the UK’s leading suppliers of industrial tools, offering an unrivalled choice of products to all industries, professions and trades. Part of the Grainger Group, the largest industrial distributor in the world with an annual turnover of $11 billion dollars, Cromwell Tools is famous for safety, cutting, hand and power tools, as well as abrasives andare committed to delivering a truly customer focused and value for money service that “Keeps industry working”.

Having been with the company for almost nine years, we chat with Marc Halsey, Commercial Supply Manager to find out more about his role and get a better insight to the company he works for.

Marc, tell me a bit about yourself.

My parents moved to the Stafford area from Manchester when I was young, and I have lived in the area ever since. I have been married to my wife Claire for 16 years. My family,except for my brother, who lives in Australia, all live in the same area. I like to spend time with them and my friends.

I used to play rugby but now I am more of an armchair fan. I enjoy watching most sports particularly football, rugby, and cricket. I still like to keep fit but enjoy eating out and I’m partial to the occasional glass of wine.

Who do you work for, how long have you been with the company and what’s your job title?

I work for Cromwell Tools and have been with the business for almost nine years. My job title is Supplier Commercial Manager.

My background originated in the bearings and power transmission industry, so when I first started working for Cromwell Tools I came on board as theCommercial Manager for the bearings and transmissions division, a role I carried out for four years, before I was asked to set up an electrical and lighting division, which I completed over the following two year period.

After this, Cromwell Tools set up the Supply Manager team which I’m now part of and it’s a role I really enjoy. My job is title is Supplier Commercial Manager

Tell us a little bit about your role in the company?

My role is predominantly a commercial role, negotiating contracts, monitoring supplier performance but also building good working relationships with our supply partners and to affirm both parties meet contractual obligations and grow our businesses together.It also involves cross functional work internally, to ensure all departments are aligned, enabling us to provide the best possible service and products to our customers. Plus, if there are any issues with our supply partners, I tend to be the first point of contact.

What’s your favourite aspect of the job and what do you enjoy the least?

I really enjoy the supplier interaction.For Cromwell and our supply partners to be successful we need to have strong working relationships which are mutually beneficial.

I have spent most of my career in the bearings and power tools industry, but in this roleI work with suppliers from a variety of industries. I enjoy learning about their businesses, the challenges they face and understanding where the opportunities are, for us all to be successful.

The aspect I enjoy the least is dealing with supplier price increase requests! My job is to make the prices workable, which is no easy feat coming to a mutual agreement.

Is there one person alive or dead who you would love to talk with or meet, and why?

Coming from a family of United fans, I would have to say Sir Alex Ferguson. Not just to talk about his footballing achievements but also to gain an insight into how he managed the club from top to bottom. To learn about his man management skills, the way he delegated responsibility to get the best out of people for over 26 years, would be amazing.

Do you DIY yourself? What is your biggest project?

I built a treehouse in my garden for two of my nephews, who are only eight and five years old. It was a project I worked on over a few weekends, but I was very pleased with the final result – it’s even got a roof and ladders going up to it!

I would not say that I’m the handiest person, but I think as you get older it is important to try different things. Plus, with mates who are very good at DIY, it’s great to be able to speak to them for advice and for that helping hand.

What’s your favourite tool and why?

It has got to be my cordless drill/screwdriver, it’s absolutely invaluable. I spent years using manual screwdrivers and although they’re good exercise, they are so time consuming to use.

Tell us about your relationship with Starrett.

The relationship between Cromwell and Starrett goes back many years. I personally have been working with Starrett for almost two years now. I have a great working relationship with the Account Manager, who could not be more supportive to our business. Starrett were one of the first suppliers to provide training when we opened our customer service centre in Dudley.

Would you recommend Starrett to a friend or colleague?

Without a doubt. Starrett is the market leader and are always looking at innovative ways to improve their products. I have friends who work in construction and they use Starrett because of the reliability and quality of the product.

Tell us more about the type of tools your company stock?

Cromwell is a broad line industrial distributor stocking a variety of products from PPE to adhesives, bearings to electrical products. We stock a wide variety of tools and accessories, as well as hand tools, cutting tools and power tools.

What challenges do you think lie ahead for the industry and what do you think can be done to overcome these?

Obviously Covid-19 has had a massive impact and is changing the way we work. There is no doubt there are many challenges ahead due to this. Despite the challenges,I see a great opportunity for manufacturers and distributors of premium quality products such as Starrett. We know when selecting a product, it is not all about the cost price; innovation, reliability,longevity and availability are equally, if not more important.

I believe that because of the pandemic and the effect this has had on the economy,customers will be more receptive to changing brands, providing we can demonstrate the benefits and overall savings that can be made by switching to premium, quality products. The immediate challenge in the current environment of minimal travel and reduced face-to-face contact ishow our sales teams demonstrate this to customers.

Businesses will have to adapt to new technologies.Our sales team at Cromwell have embraced these and have been using video conferencing to stay close to their customers. The digital platform is going to gain even greater significance in the marketplace and companies that can provide customers with an informative, user friendly, interactive experience will prosper. Cromwell have and continue to make significant investment in this area, and in conjunction with our supplier partners are producing some excellent content.