Jaz Vilkhu, of building materials manufacturer Marshalls, tells Melanie Delargy how his company's innovative sales approach saves its clients a great deal of money
What do you do?
I work for Marshalls, a building materials manufacturer that employs 3000 people and has a turnover of £300m a year. We make paving, flags, street furniture, kerbs and drainage systems. We don't employ salespeople as such but have a team of architects and other construction professionals who sell the products. My job is to eliminate waste when clients buy products. I have been trying to apply the principles of the Egan report. We try to get involved at the order stage so we can prevent problems such as over-specification and ensure that the product is produced economically.

How did you get into construction?
My father ran a building firm in the Midlands so I was always interested in construction. At university, my dissertation was on the damp and timber preservation industry and I set up Damprot as a result. It carried out damp proofing and timber treatment as well as wet and dry rot eradication. I sold it to join Ibstock.

What is the advantage of your integrated sales approach?
We are able to save the client a lot of money by producing the product on time and cost-effectively. We are able to save money on haulage, for example, by sending 30 full lorry loads of integrated product rather than 100 part loads. Early involvement also prevents waste.

What is the most interesting project you have worked on?
The regeneration of Gateshead Quay. We have a partnering arrangement with Gateshead council to provide all the kerbs, flags, drainage and clay bricks for the schemes at Gateshead Quay, including the arts centre in the former Baltic flour mill and the Foster and Partners-designed music centre. We have worked with the architects and the council on the specifications and designed a bespoke stone for the area. This project will run for the next 10 years.

What is a typical day like?
About 40-50% of my time is spent in workshops, meetings and brainstorming sessions. I go to the Design Build Foundation, the Construction Best Practice Programme and the Movement for Innovation. I am also working on the Marshalls specification team which consists of 24 project consultants, architects, QSs and civil engineers who assist in the design process and develop solutions.

What do you do outside work?
My hobbies are cooking and property, which interrelate. I buy, redecorate and let out properties. I have tenants from Greece, Malaysia and Italy. They teach me to cook whatever they eat. I like Indian dishes because I can make them better than most restaurants.


Age 37
Current job National operations manager for specification and contracts at Marshalls
Employment history He set up Damprot in 1985 and sold it to join Ibstock in 1988. He then moved to Redland as a key account manager, joining Marshalls in 1998
Qualifications Business degree, Middlesex University
Lives Detached house in Bramhope, Yorkshire
Salary £40,000-80,000
Drives Omega CD for work, BMW at home
Family Married with three children