As one of the leading companies in the region, Russell Taylor continues its growth path - we caught up with Ben Russell, Chief Executive, Russell Taylor Holdings Ltd to talk about its beginnings, its future and its role as a Patron Member of Wirral Chamber of Commerce.
Tell us a little about Russell Taylor Holdings Ltd?
Russell Taylor Holdings is the holding company that owns our recruitment business comprising Russell Taylor Group, Recruit Right, Assist Resourcing, Nexus People and NMS Recruit, as well as painting businesses A&R Painting Services and JE Curtis.
As a collective, the group of businesses’ turnover is in excess of £150m and is growing rapidly. We operate from numerous branches and client sites across the UK but our national head offices are at Riverside Park, Bromborough, as well as in Haydock and Brighouse in West Yorkshire. Our sectors span engineering, construction, IT, industrial, scientific, warehousing, commercial and transport. The group now employs 327 full-time staff.
The first business in the group was set up in 2005 from a spare room at home in Oxton. There was just myself, my wife and my father, Peter Russell, who is now company chairman.
Tell us a little about your background?
As with many recruiters, I fell into the industry by accident in 2002. After leaving school, I started working in sales and saw the entrepreneurial opportunities in technical recruitment. My ambition was always to be my own boss.
What was the inspiration behind the company?
From day one, our vision was to have a reputable business in an industry notorious for high staff turnover. We wanted it to be a place where, because people loved to come to work, they could reach their full potential and contribute to our success.
This means we are now surrounded by the best people in the industry, we keep hold of them, develop and support them. We simply don’t have the typical staff turnover seen in recruitment – we keep our good people and they have constantly risen through the ranks.
You are operating in a highly competitive marketplace. What is your USP? What separates Russell Taylor from the competition?
At the forefront of our workplace ethic is operating as a highly profitable company but where our people always to come to work with energy and enthusiasm. Permanent and temporary staff are treated alike and we reward performance with internal promotions, staff incentives and we focus highly on workforce training and development.
At the heart of everything though is a strong emphasis on the fact that Russell Taylor is, first and foremost, a family business with roots firmly placed in the local community.
'At the heart of everything though is a strong emphasis on the fact that Russell Taylor is, first and foremost, a family business with roots firmly placed in the local community.'
It’s been a busy time for the company on the M&A front. How do you decide whether to acquire a company? What are you looking for in a potential acquisition?
Since acquiring Assist Resourcing in January 2017, there have been many approaches made to us by businesses for sale. Most of them weren’t right for us – either cultural fit, not the right ethics or just not likely to be profitable. We are really pleased with the acquisitions we have made as we have inherited some great people, some really good clients and they support our growth plans.
Assist Resourcing was our first big acquisition and, in all honesty, I think we made our fair share of mistakes with regard to ingratiation. But we have a great team in place at Assist and they are making great strides in moving the business forward – 20 per cent growth this year. With Nexus People, I think we had a bit more experience and this business is fitting well with the company and adding tremendous value.
What ambitions do you have for the business in the short to medium term?
We are currently in the process of making one more major acquisition. This will level the balance out within our group of companies back towards technical recruitment which is our core offering. It will also propel the turnover in 2018 past £200m.
Like most businesses, we have key challenges ahead of us. Ours are mainly people-focused – lack of candidates in the market place and retaining the best people in our business - and technology, something which is constantly evolving. Here we need to keep investing to keep ourselves at the forefront.
You place great importance on your workforce. Tell us something about your people?
Our commitment to our own workforce and their development is paramount. Our apprenticeship programme, where “home grown” talent has seen junior staff blossom into seasoned professionals across all areas of sales, finance and business services, has recruited more than 20 young apprentices in the past two years, most of whom are still working for the company today.
Our people are our most vital asset; we believe in a supportive environment where people come first. They are the backbone of our business but they also help to drive our programme of corporate social responsibility with the amazing work they do in their own time to raise money for local charities important to us. They’ve helped us to raise £10,000 to pay for a state-of-the-art bedroom at Alder Hey children’s hospital in Liverpool and recently brought in more than £4,000 for Claire House children’s hospice by taking part in the Tough Mudder challenge.
'Our people are our most vital asset; we believe in a supportive environment where people come first.'
We are also involved in ongoing work for The Hive Youth Zone in Birkenhead and, as a founder patron, have invested heavily in a three-year programme to support this state-of-the-art facility for young people in an area which has second highest concentration of unemployment in disadvantaged communities in England. To help youngsters into employment, Russell Taylor is now working with The Hive’s Employability and Engagement Team to partner up in initiatives including coaching, mentoring and work experience.
Russell Taylor is a valued supporter of Wirral’s business community via your partnership with Wirral Chamber of Commerce as a patron. What do you hope to achieve through your involvement there?
Vital to the Russell Taylor agenda is the part it plays in boosting the local and regional economy. As a patron of Wirral Chamber of Commerce, the company acts as an ambassador for the organisation, supporting the message that its member businesses are making a huge, positive difference to the regional economy.
One of the greatest achievements of my working life was being named as Business Person of the Year in the Wirral Business Awards 2017. However, leading the business is probably the easy bit – the hard work is done by every employee of this company. Without their skills and dedication to their jobs and to our customers, the organisation would not be the amazing success it is today.
On a personal note, what are the best and worst aspects of your job?
Best and worst aspect of the job is the same thing – people. Some of our biggest challenges are managing our workforce – people who are struggling at their job or losing good staff to competitors. But also it’s our people who are our business and the people we share our successes with. For example, some of our top sales performers and some of our staff are going to Portugal on a work incentive In May to thank them for their hard work – that’s fun!
If you could give some advice to your younger self, what would it be?
I think the key piece of advice would be to enjoy now, rather than always looking forward to the next growth target or challenge. Just stop sometimes and enjoy the moment and appreciate things.
What do you do to escape work and relax?
No such thing as relaxing outside work as I have two young children, Evie and Henry, and we spend a lot of our space time in Anglesey. If I am not at work, in Anglesey or in my favourite local pub, I will be learning to fly a helicopter which is my current fad/hobby.
Thank you Ben for your time and in sharing this insprational buisness story - if you would like to learn more about the Russell Taylior Group then please visit its website.