Tapper Interiors, like many of you, is back on-site fighting fires and finding a way. It certainly doesn’t feel like a return to any form of normal, even new.

Frankly it still feels odd, but it is at least a step towards normality or the new normal. It is too early to fully understand the impact of all this, but we decided to close down for a few weeks and this step change in pace of life, despite all the residual background worry, does give pause for thought and an opportunity to reflect.

Some have referred to the pandemic as the Great Realisation, maybe history will agree, but that has to start with the Great Reflection.

Mike and I have been running Tapper Interiors now for 20 years and involved in the management for 37. That is 37 years of juggling cash, avoiding contractual pitfalls, picking apart “specifications” that are often little more than vague wish lists and, when working with main contractors, trying to uphold values centred on quality when the only thing that seems to matter is price and finishing on time at all costs.

Whilst, more than anything, I want things to return to normal, to give my Mum a hug and allow my girls’ boyfriends back in the house, this normal can’t just be a return to old ways for our sector. These problems are the ‘old chestnuts’, the ones we have been wrestling with for as long as I have been involved in the sector.

Unfortunately during a crisis they become ever more acute and pressing as we feel less empowered to resist.

The FIS has been exceptionally active throughout the pandemic and the regular flow of information, webinars and conversations with colleagues has been of immense support to Mike and I in helping to make measured decisions and judgement calls based on solid, well researched information and shared experience. I know we are not alone as I talk to other members.

One captured the power of our community in an email that simply stated “Your words bring a sense of reassurance that we’re not in this alone. Every time I get the update it’s clear that you’re doing your best to support our industry, provide some insight, and dare I say it… you provide a form of counselling!”

The team has been engaging with members, refl ecting our views through the Construction Leadership Council and working closely with groups like Build UK, the Home Builders Federation and the Construction Products Association. As a result of hard work, in these difficult times, FIS has grown in stature.

Change doesn’t happen by wishing it better, it happens by working together and this is going to be the focus for the final 18 months of my role as FIS President – Working Together to Rebuild Construction for the Better. In this I will stay true to my commitment to focus on the needs of contractors big and small and diversity in the sector.

The roundtable covered in this issue was a good way to kick this off. It was encouraging.It does start with us, reflecting internally how we must evolve, how we are going to change within our businesses and adapt together to protect our industry. It also requires mature conversations and genuine collaboration through the supply chain.

Through the FIS we have a strong platform to collaborate and springboard for change. As we move to the new normal and fully start to realise the impact, there will undoubtedly be tough times. But remember you are not alone. I look forward to working with you in helping to define a better future for our businesses and the finishes and interiors sector as a whole.

Helen Tapper
Operations Director, Tapper Interiors
and FIS President