20 Years and Counting... The Story of Concept Resourcing
How Concept Resourcing started
With an IT degree and only 2 years’ experience in IT recruitment, I decided to start Concept in October 2000.
When interviewing with other IT recruiters in Birmingham, I met an individual who was prepared to invest in myself and offer me 30% of a newly formed company. I was 25, I had no mortgage and no dependents so in some ways it was a fairly easy decision.
I had no experience of running a business and little experience in managing people, but I had a bucket load of ambition. Starting a business by yourself with no clients or candidates is hard, but I had a sense of urgency and failure wasn’t an option.
I had an investor who supported some back-office functions, but the sales were down to me. The first year was tough, with very long working days including most weekends, but through sheer hard work and determination, I started to win some good customers and was fortunate to secure a large financial services client in the Midlands. I remember one of my early placements was for an Oracle Project Manager with a fee for £17,500. I ended up recruiting most of the people underneath that person which ultimately provided the cash flow for me to start building a team.
The early years….
The new business had started to gain some good momentum into 2001, I had hired several trainees and experienced recruiters into the company – then the dotcom bubble hit which saw the technology roles dry up and many of our clients freeze all hiring.
This was my first real taste of a downturn and the company quickly dropped from 8 staff back to just 2 in a couple of months. I turned my attention to sales recruitment where I found some good new clients and I worked our way through a difficult period.
In 2003 the opportunity arose to buy out my original investor which I did and over the next 3 years, the company steadily continued to grow. We hired some great people into the team and we were winning some good projects. I remember a real sense of teamwork, frequent late nights and sometimes Saturdays with some of the team to ensure we had delivered to urgent customer projects. I think this dedication to making sure we did a good job was a key reason for our success.
We continued to grow steadily, hiring good people. By 2006 we reached 15 staff, but I had no clear direction or goal on what I wanted from the business. In effect, we were more of a lifestyle business.
Then in 2006, I met our current Chairman, John O’Sullivan, who opened up my thinking to creating a business which had more scale. At the time we were principally focussed on IT permanent recruitment with limited contractor sales. John was brought into the business as an advisor and we put in place a business plan to scale the business to over 40 sales heads and grow our contract recruitment business.
New offices and the credit crunch
In 2007 I took the leap of faith to purchase a large office which would give us the capacity to grow to 70 staff. Through several years of profitable trading the company had built up a healthy balance sheet, but I invested almost all of the previous 3 years profits to purchase, fit-out and hire staff into the new offices.
Within 10 months my 2nd biggest business challenge hit. The credit crunch in 2008 hit our permanent recruitment business hard, seeing our sales drop by over 50% within the space of 8 weeks over the summer of 2008.
Fortunately, a few months earlier we decided to start a division focussing on supplying IT contract staff into the NHS. While our private sector sales took a big hit, the new public sector division continued to grow and within 2 years was supplying over 150 contractors into hospitals and community health trusts throughout the UK. This success carried us through the recession and enabled our next chapter of growth.
Our 2nd decade…….
As the economy improved into 2011 the business started to take off for us. Our permanent recruitment divisions were performing strongly and our IT contracting business continued to grow both in the private and public sector. Also, our Project services business continued to win bigger and bigger projects supplying 100s of field engineers across the country for large scale hardware and software deployments.
We continued to hire new both trainee and experienced consultants and by 2014 our sales exceeded £10M. We had over 400 contractors working on client sites and we placed over 50 people per month into new permanent positions.
In the last 20 years, we have helped over 10,000 people find new careers, delivered some key projects to both the NHS and central government and also raised over £100,000 for local and national charities.
Now and the future….
2020 was on track to be another record year with March 2020 being another record month. It was so frustrating, but I don’t think I could write this blog without mentioning the C-word. My toughest challenge over the 20 years has been navigating through the current COVID-19 pandemic.
For the first time since 2001, we were forced to reduce our sales headcount as the country went into national lockdown. These were difficult decisions for myself and the senior leadership team, but they were decisions we had to make. Like all businesses, we have had to adapt to a new way of working, which is very different from the culture on which the business has been built. The team again have stepped up and worked tirelessly over the last 6 months. We have remained profitable and in fact, our Public sector business has grown over 20% since April.
Despite not being a young company anymore, we are still very ambitious. We want to continue to grow and create great career opportunities for our people and international expansion is next on our agenda with planned moves into the US and Europe. We are also looking at emerging technologies to build new teams around.
The last 20 years have been a real roller-coaster ride. I have faced many challenges along the way but I have also been fortunate.
Fortunate to have partnered with some great companies who have been loyal clients for the last 20 years but also fortunate to have a great team of people around me who have helped build Concept to the business is it today. I am extremely proud of what we have achieved.
We are currently hiring and despite an uncertain economic landscape in front of us, we are very established and confident we can continue to grow and win market share as we enter 2021.
If you are interested in a career at Concept, we would love the opportunity to speak to you.