Alphamarque was set up to provide options to people that have difficulty getting around due to age or disability. Over the last 30 years, Alphamarque has established itself as the leading mobility and easier living supplier in the home counties by offering quality products with personalised services. The founder and Chairman of Alphamarque, Grahame Partridge gave Herts Review some insight into the business and its plans going forward.
The idea of setting up Alphamarque came up when Grahame was working as a Senior Executive for Remploy, a UK government supported programme dedicated to finding work for disabled people. Grahame had observed that outside work, most disabled people found getting around extremely challenging as there was a lack of facilities and products which could make their life easier. “Access was difficult. Mobility was difficult, and this affected the quality of life of the disabled”.
Armed with strong retail and marketing experience from 18 years working for oil giant Esso as well as the drive, and ambition to build a business, Grahame set out to find a solution for this problem. In 1990, Alphamarque was registered as a private company focused on creating a retail network of shops and mobile showrooms to sell lots of products for easier living for the elderly or disabled. The company started trading in the first quarter of 1991. “At the time, most equipment or products for the elderly and disabled were solely provided by social services. It meant there was little choice for them. Our business offered choice and service by making available several options to the elderly or disabled”.
Setting up a company during a recession is no mean feat. However, Grahame believes that it helped him focus on how to build a business and a framework that mitigated risk. “I became an entrepreneur because I wanted to control my destiny. I am really grateful for my career in Esso and Remploy because I acquired the skills and experience needed to thrive in business. Add in the fact that I come from a family that is caring and love helping people, I was confident I would succeed.”
Initially, Alphamarque put together a network of agents focused on speaking to customers, creating awareness, and selling products. “It was almost like the Avon model then. With my past business experience, I created a professional catalogue of our products to support our agents on the field. These were stepping stones and as a young entrepreneur, it was an opportunity to test new things in the market”. The company also created awareness with the Stroke Association, British Heart Foundation amongst others. As demand continued to grow, the company became profitable and set up its first physical shop in Hatfield Galleria in 1996.
This was a major turning point for the company, and it remained in Hatfield Galleria for the next 13 years. Grahame puts this into context. “When we moved to Hatfield Galleria, there were 80 stores with 40 independents. By the time we moved out of the Galleria, there were only 3 independents including us. We upsized 3 times moving from a retail space of 800 sq. ft to 3000 sq. ft. The Galleria believed in me. It was also important to think big and put our products in front of approximately 5 million people. Success was slow and steady. Our achievements were down to hard work, determination, our product selection and our exceptional customer service”.
The company has now settled into a retail unit in St Albans, Hertfordshire with another shop in Colchester, Essex. It has a strong supply chain with relationships that have lasted for many years with many British manufacturers. “We have kept the business profitable for all these years. We work with our suppliers providing product feedback, design, and packaging ideas”. A common theme in Alphamarque is the long relationships it has built over the years with customers, suppliers and even staff. For instance, the manager in the Colchester shop has worked for the company for 27 years.
The success of the business has come with its fair share of challenges. Initially taking on staff and training them was challenging. Letting go of the day-to-day responsibilities was a challenge as Grahame loves what he does and is deeply passionate. Closing the Colchester shop during the covid-19 lockdown brought more challenges as well. For every challenge, the team at Alphamarque have shown resilience by looking for solutions. For instance, Alphamarque has taken steps to halt all weekend trading so that the shops are thoroughly cleaned and decontaminated for the safety of staff and customers. Although this has some adverse impact on sales, customers and staff are happy that they can trust Alphamarque to always do the right thing.
Alphamarque is a unique business. Customer service is at the heart of everything. There are several instances where the company has gone out of its way to provide exceptional services to customers including extending trading hours for a customer to pick up a product. They also take products to customers to test before they purchase. “The free advice, information, support, service levels and helping people without them feeling indebted to us is what we are about”. It is no coincidence therefore that over 80% of their business comes from personal recommendation with the rest from advertising mainly through Facebook.
For Grahame, each positive or negative event is always an opportunity for something better. He is extremely proud of the business he has built and wants to create a legacy. His family has been extremely supportive and have always been involved in the business in some capacity. At the moment, his daughter Caroline is managing the business. The business is not for sale. There is a possibility of acquiring another business, but it is key to remain profitable and protect what has been built. He will continue to support the business in various capacities until he can no longer do so. Alphamarque will celebrate its 30th anniversary this year. Our team congratulates Alphamarque on this great achievement. For mobility and easier living products check Alphamarque’s website here.
GB Autos is an independent garage offering a wide range of vehicle services including general mechanical and electrical repairs, servicing, MOTs, tyre, exhausts, and battery repairs. They also use the latest diagnostics equipment and techniques to conduct diagnostics on modern vehicles. The garage can work on any kind of vehicle including classic cars. GB Autos founder Gary Barlow gave Herts Review a run-down of how he has established GB Autos to be the go-to local garage in the area.
GB Autos from its base in London Colney provides automobile repair services to St Albans and the wider Hertfordshire area. They cover everything from windshield repairs, chip repair, vehicle bodywork amongst others. The business started in Jan 1988, when Gary got a recommendation from a friend that the current site of the business was up for sale. It was a local garage at the time, but the owner was ready to retire. Gary has always had an interest in cars and was working with the Newgreen Service Station but had the desire to set up his own business. He therefore made the arrangements to purchase the garage and transform it into GB Autos.
He recalls “the key challenge when I started out was getting customers”. Although the garage was well known, the previous owner had been working part time for a while so a lot of business was going to other garages. However, with years of honest hard work and excellent customer service, business has picked up over the years and the garage is always busy. “Most of our business is based on recommendations from people we have provided services to in the past. There is also a lot of repeat business as I have serviced some customers’ cars over the years”. We are different because we provide personalized services and go the extra mile for each customer.
The covid-19 pandemic was a tough time for the business due to the social distancing requirements, but it also gave the business the opportunity to give back to the local area. “We were open throughout, observing the social distancing rules and also providing services to our key workers – nurses, care workers etc”. It is important to help them get back on the road as they do exceptional work looking after our community. Before the pandemic, GB Autos provided services to key workers and even offered them discounts.
So, what does the future hold? “I really enjoy what I do. I love being out here working on people’s vehicles and getting them back on the road”. We have a lot of relationships with other local garages and even insurance companies, so no two days are ever the same. Would he be retiring anytime soon after 32 years doing this? “Of course, at some point. Hopefully, Aaron Barlow takes over the business” We would see. If you are in the London Colney or St Albans area and you need a garage you can trust call GB Autos on 01727 822 432.
Tamara Jane Interiors – Practical interior Design and Decluttering Service in London & Home Counties
We have all been there. Right? We keep procrastinating about decluttering rooms in our home. We know that we need better living space and do not need all that stuff but we just do not have the will to get rid of stuff. There could be an emotional connection or even a sentimental value. Our young growing family do not want to get rid of old toys, shoes and clothing or even magazines as it comes with several memories. We seek the assistance of a professional interior decorator but we do not think we have the budget for it. Too expensive right?
Here is some good news if you are in Hertfordshire or surrounding areas. Please speak to Tamara Hall. Tamara is the founder of Tamara Jane Interiors, a bespoke interior design and decluttering service that provides solutions to transform your home, work place and life. Tamara provides practical solutions that gives your home or office the right look, the perfect accessory or a simple storage solution that brings happiness and energy into an area. Herts Review was able to grab a few minutes with Tamara to get more insight into the business and her aspirations for the future.
Tamara Jane Interiors started 5 years ago providing services targeting everyday people and families, high street stores and offices. Working with a range of budgets, the service includes decluttering; reorganising cupboards and storage solutions, working out what is staying and creating a space that reflects the clients personality and needs. The company also designs and decorates bedrooms, living rooms, play areas, lounge, home office space, high street stores and commercial offices using traditional methods. “The importance is to offer a service that fits various budgets. One minute I could be working on a children’s play area and the next minute I could be designing a CEO’s office. I love the variety and the challenge it brings to me”.
After 18 years in a rewarding visual merchandising career working for some of the leading high street brands including Selfridges, Tamara set out to work for herself as she has a young growing family and it will be impossible to carry on a career which required travel away from her family. “I wanted to work for myself and build a business around family time doing what I love best – design, interiors and decluttering. It is always great to bring a personal touch to each project. So far I have done projects in a CEO’s home and office, shops, beauty salons and an American food company amongst others.
Operating from her base in Stevenage, she covers most locations an hour away and has assembled a strong team of handymen, decorators and other tradespeople needed for a variety of jobs. “I work on both big and small projects at the moment. I am hands on and a doer. The happiness and energy clients get from our service is fulfilling and keeps me going. I am a people person. Since I started this business I have only not closed 2 clients after our initial meeting which means I pretty much close a deal most of the time. It is a combination of empathy and reassurance that makes me a good fit for most clients. Our service is not expensive but not cheap as well. We make every project fun rather than a chore”.
Tamara is just happy to be back out there providing solutions to her customers. The first 3 months of the covid-19 lockdown was extremely challenging. “As I work in people’s homes it was difficult. There was not a lot going on. Thankfully I had some of my old clients that needed other services. I had to do virtual meetings with my clients. While I am thankful it is not the same. I love being out there”. The company has some repeat clients and gets a lot of business through recommendations.
Tamara Jane Interiors is positioning itself to attract more regular clients. “We are doing more online marketing to attract more clients especially higher ticket clients. Also there is a strong demand for the decluttering service so we will be promoting this as well. In hindsight, we should have promoted the decluttering service a bit more when we started. We want more people to feel they need our service”.
You can feel Tamara’s passion and energy. While she is looking to expand the business, she will always be at the heart of everything going on in the company. If you need a personalised decluttering and interior design service contact Tamara here.
Green Star Premium Car Care provides an environmentally friendly mobile car valet service that uses the hot water and steam based approach to clean the interior and exterior of cars with limited contact to the vehicle. The minimal contact approach and the use of non-toxic products means there is less damage to the vehicle paintwork which gives a perfect result. Herts Review spoke with Zoltan Szabo, a car enthusiast and the founder of Green Star Premium Car Care to get more insight on his business.
Zoltan launched Green Star Premium Car Care 3 years ago after making the ultimate decision to start his own business. He also could see an opportunity in the market for an eco-friendly valet service for cars. According to Zoltan “I could see from the news and other public information that protecting our environment is key. It is the way forward. Most valet and car wash services use up a lot of water and do not get the right results. I always felt there was another way”.
Years of research and significant investment in high end equipment has put Green Star in a unique position as a leader in the eco-friendly mobile car valet space. “We wanted a unique service focused entirely on the customer. Customer satisfaction is key. It does not matter how long it takes to complete a job but we would not leave the site until the customer is happy. Our focus is on quality and not quantity”.
It feels like Zoltan has been auditioning for this moment all his life. He recalls his humble beginning in his birth place Hungary and how did not have a lot of money or possessions as a child. “It was pretty tough growing up in Eastern Europe then. The economy was tough and so families struggled. I had to be innovative at a young age to keep up. This meant that whatever I had needed to be in pristine condition so that I never felt left out. I had a way of keeping things clean and shiny”.
Combining his passion for cars with his ability to keep things “clean and shiny” has resulted in a thriving business. “I have always had jobs which had a connection with a car. I really love cars. I was a cab driver, then a chauffeur to a multimillionaire business man and then I decided I wanted my independence and freedom so I set up this business”. After years of steady growth, the business has really picked up this year.
“I am really amazed at what has happened in the last 6 months despite the challenging situation due to the covid-19 pandemic. There has been strong demand for our service”. The company’s diverse customers include individual car owners, car dealers buying cars from auction and classic car owners among others. “These customers want their vehicles transformed and so they ask for our service. We do not use any aggressive materials, we protect the paint work and the leather interiors. Generally our customers are very happy”.
Although things are gradually taking off, the company has had a few challenges. “I had to fund the business 100%. I had to sell my Volvo to fund the business. Since we started I have had to reinvest all my profits into the business to help it grow. My wife has been invaluable all the way because it has been a big risk to us”. Another challenge has been education. “Although we are affordable some people we speak to do not understand the true value of what we do. They are getting a really good deal because we protect one of their biggest investments”.
Operating from his Muswell Hill base in North London, Green Star Premium Car Care covers a radius of 30 minutes around the area. “Usually I take on 3 or 4 jobs in a day. So it is important that I give a great service and do not spend a lot of time on the road moving from one destination to another. If there are big jobs then I may travel further”. The service is a touchless wash using steam and hot water. No scrubbing, no brush or sponge, may use a little bit of water depending on the state of the vehicle. Steam can get rid of dirt in corners and even get rid of chewing gum in seconds.
Looking to the future, Zoltan hopes to grow the business with more vehicles operating in London, Hertfordshire and surrounding areas. “I believe we are the future. We want to attract some investment to add a fleet of 15 electric cars providing our service. We will never compromise on our standards but it is important that we are serving more customers. Most of our business has been based on recommendation from other happy customers but we are investing more in online advertising to attract more business as part of our growth plans.
If you need a 5 star eco-friendly mobile valet car service then call Green Star Premium Car Service on 07756 909 444.
Have you heard of bitcoin? Do you know anything about Cryptocurrency? What is blockchain technology? Do you want to know more? If yes, then join Herts Review as we get an overview from an expert in the industry - Dan Da Rosa, the CEO of EZCAMG Ltd.
EZCAMG (EntryZone Crypto Asset Management Group) Ltd, is a leading blockchain and cryptocurrency investment and trading firm based in the UK with global aspirations. The company through its Estonia business, ECAM OU is registered and licenced by the Estonian Financial Intelligence Unit (FIU) as an activity virtual currency exchange service (Licence no. FVR001492) and activity virtual currency wallet service (Licence no. FVK001372). This allows the firm to exchange cryptocurrency for another cryptocurrency or cryptocurrency for FIAT (which is money such as Sterling, Euros or Dollars). Cryptocurrency use, trading and investment is currently not regulated in the UK. However, there are a handful of countries throughout the world that has established the regulatory framework for trading and investing in cryptocurrency such as Estonia.
The idea of setting up a cryptocurrency investment and trading firm was conceived over 3 years ago. Founded by 4 business partners – Dan Da Rosa (CEO), Jorge Pires (CFO), Mario Pires (CTO) and Antony Klein (COO), the firm utilises revolutionary technology and its technical expertise to offer unique and transparent investment opportunities to other cryptocurrency investors. EZCAMG officially opened for business in July 2018 running proof of concept models which it has perfected over time. It opened to the public in March 2019.
According to Dan, he had known of bitcoin 11 years ago when a family member persuaded him to invest. At that time, a unit of bitcoin was selling for $100. Today the value of a bitcoin unit is estimated at $10,000 despite the major crash in 2018. “I finally got really interested in cryptocurrency when my friend and business partner Mario, an experienced trader had made great returns consistently from trading cryptocurrency. I could see the opportunity of merging his technical expertise with our business experience to set up a company dedicated to investing and trading cryptocurrency”.
Before we continue, it is important we get up to speed with some of the concepts:
Cryptocurrency is a digital or virtual currency that is secured by cryptography to prevent counterfeiting. Some cryptocurrencies are a form of payment that can be exchanged online for goods or services. Cryptocurrencies work using blockchain technology. There are various types of cryptocurrency and holders of cryptocurrency are said to hold crypto assets.
Blockchain Technology is a distributed ledger technology that allows data to be stored globally on lots of servers while permitting anyone on the network to see everyone else’s entries in real time. This means no user can gain control over the network. One major appeal of the technology is its security.
Bitcoin is a type of cryptocurrency that was created in 2009. It is a virtual or digital currency. It is a medium of exchange that can be used to purchase products or services and does not require an intermediary (e.g. a bank).
EZCAMG has recorded consistent growth since its formal launch adding customers mainly through referrals. “We do not just take money from anyone. We protect our standards and the integrity of our firm. Anyone investing with us goes through KYC (Know-Your-Customer) and AML (Anti-Money Laundering) checks before they can open an account with us”. Most of EZCAMG’s investors are from the UK, Germany, and Portugal. “Unfortunately, US citizens are banned from investing or trading cryptocurrency and there are regulations against taking investments from them”.
EZCAMG has made great strides by becoming the first cryptocurrency investment firm offering monthly returns on investment and an accumulated pay out if the investor keeps their funds for 12 straight months. “All investments for each month are held in a pot and then traded. With our Gold Fund for instance, we have a target return of 2% per month which means an investor gets a return of 1.2% each month (paid out 6 weeks from investment date) and a cumulative return of 9.6% (0.8% for each month) if they keep their funds with us for 12 consecutive months. If they withdraw the funds before month 12 then they lose the cumulative return” This is a good way the firm de-risks investments for their clients based on the confidence in the firm’s expertise and past performance.
The minimum investment is £1,000 which is converted into cryptocurrency on behalf of the investor once they have passed all the required checks. There are 3 investment funds designed for different risk thresholds – lower risk (Silver Fund), moderate risk (Gold Fund), high risk (Platinum Fund). “We have a target monthly value that is invested. We do not exceed this value to keep our processes running seamlessly. Most of our processes are fully automated with advanced software and bot technology.
A major challenge operating in the UK is the lack of regulation around cryptocurrency. This has meant getting bank accounts or even HMRC status has been challenging. The firm has resolved to play a big role in developing the ecosystem through education and general best practice so that investors would see cryptocurrency as a viable and safe form of investment. “We are where the internet was in 1999. This is still the early stage of this technology and we are early adopters. I am extremely confident that in the next 10 years, we will see massive growth in this area. Anyone getting in now will still make some great returns in the mid to long term”.
Business has been good this year despite the covid-19 pandemic. “A lot of investors have been looking for other investment vehicles to diversify their holdings. So overall we have had a good year despite limited marketing”. The firm plans to grow steadily over the next 3 years and does not want the investment fund to grow faster than the company rather it intends to scale operations in line with investment fund growth.
And what is the outlook for the next 5 years? “We want to grow the business and go public in 5 years. We will keep a stake in the firm but get other parties running the business. Our focus is also on growing the ecosystem through education and doing more charitable work with local communities with themes based on blockchain technology and cryptocurrency”. This will also mean that Dan gets to spend more time with family, travels and pursues his other interests. “I think it would be good to retire at the age of 55”.
If you want to know more about cryptocurrency trading and investment or you are an aspiring investor, follow this link to their website.
React4Plumbing was established 15 years ago by Robert “Bob” Hoy to provide plumbing, heating, and gas services to residential and commercial clients in and around Hertfordshire. The company is involved in boiler repairs, boiler installations, taps & shower installations, leaks & burst pipes, drainage & blockages amongst others. Bob had been in the trade for 30 years, working as a Sole Trader and in various partnerships before he launched the company in 2005.
React4Plumbing is transitioning to the next generation with Bob’s sons, Jake and Joe Hoy taking on the daily operation of the company as Bob goes into semi-retirement. Herts Review caught up with Jake (a Director of the company) for some insight on how the business is doing and plans for the future.
According to Jake, he did not set out to be in the plumber trade. His brother Joe had already followed in their Dad’s footsteps. “I started out just helping out when I could in my Dad’s Plumbers’ Merchants at the time. Being a family run company, I was spending a lot of time in the business and gradually eased into it. I have not looked back since then”.
In addition to being in customers’ homes or commercial buildings dealing with various plumbing & heating situations, Jake also responds to all business enquiries, arranges appointments, sorts out the diaries and makes sure everything is running smoothly. The jobs that come to the company could be classified as 70% reactive and 30% Maintenance work, so there are a lot of calls for urgent assistance.
The company has a diverse range of customers. 40% of customers come through referrals, another 30% comes from repeat business while the rest comes through the strong relationships they have built with Local Estate Agents in Hertfordshire over the years. “Dad did everything to establish the business and build strong relationships. We have only carried on from where he stopped”.
There have been challenges running the company. In the past, employees and partners that were considered part of the family had left the business often under challenging circumstances. “It is difficult to find people you can trust that would not undercut you or cheat you”. Jake has accepted that everything is part of the learning curve. In all they have survived and are moving ahead.
However, business was tough at the height of the covid-19 pandemic especially during the first few months of the lock down. Calls were restricted to major emergencies and so there was not a lot of work coming through. The last 2 months have been better as business is gradually getting back to normal. “We have however had to change our operational processes making sure we comply with social distancing requirements, protecting ourselves as well as our customers”.
“We pride ourselves as an established family run business that is being passed down from one generation to another and so the quality of our work is incredibly good. We also offer reasonable prices and may price match if it does not compromise our standards. We are confident we have a better offering than other plumbing and heating companies operating in the area. Our customer reviews and portfolio of the work completed is available to anyone interested”.
So, what does the future hold? “We have not done a lot of advertising, so we are looking at expanding our business by getting more customers through the internet. We have revamped our website and created an online free boiler quote. There are three technicians on the field now - me, Joe, and an apprentice John while our Dad is semi-retired. Hopefully, the company can add another van and have John doing his own jobs”.
For Jake, while he enjoys being on the field, he hopes to expand the business, hire more technicians, and focus on managing the business. If you are looking for plumbing and heating services, contact firstname.lastname@example.org
Smartlink Security Systems Ltd are a design, installation and maintenance company specializing in CCTV, Fibre Optics, Intercom, Fire, and Intruder alarms for both residential and commercial properties. The company covers various aspects of private security, electrical installation, and security services. From door entry access control to monitoring systems to smart home systems to security cameras, Smartlink offers bespoke solutions for every customer project. The company operates primarily in Hertfordshire but covers the Greater London area.
Herts Review spoke exclusively to the Founder Luis Fernandes, on current business operations and what the business is set to achieve going forward. Luis has a background in Electronics and Industrial Devices. He worked for major Security Services companies in Spain and the UK before setting up his own business in March 2020. He was always motivated by the challenge to start his own business as he realised that with his experience and expertise, the only opportunity for career progression in the bigger companies he worked for was in administrative roles. “I am more of a field person. I want to be out there working on key projects and making things happen”.
So far, sales have been up even over the covid-19 period. There has been a lot of demand for our services in the residential space. The company is a subcontractor to a major Spanish Security company and has been working on projects in renewable energy – solar systems and windmills. Smartlink is gradually building its reputation as a company that delivers great service, that is reasonably priced while using modern quality materials. “Going cheap with security systems does not mean you get real value. Real value is in the quality of materials and expertise in design and installation”. He is confident Smartlink offers a better service than some of the well-established security services companies.
Luis’s hands on approach, strong portfolio of successfully delivered projects and honesty is winning Smartlink a lot of customers and the company will add one or two engineers within the next 6 months. “It all depends on how things go. There is a lot of uncertainty due to the covid-19 pandemic, so we are watching closely and would be adding to the team as the need arises.”. The business although dominated by projects in the residential space are looking to expand their portfolio of commercial projects.
According to Luis, “we are advertising, putting ourselves out there and networking to get the correct profile of projects we will be working on. We prioritise quality over quantity so we are looking at a selection of long-term projects we will be working on”. Our focus over the next 12 months is to continue to build a strong team, strengthen our brand and sign up a few big projects.
At the moment, he loves the challenge and hard work of building up the business and hopes to be well established in 5 years. “It is important to have a business that is sound financially and structured in a way that it can run independently”. Never underestimate Luis’s energy or ambition. Smartlink Security Systems is indeed taking off. If you need a reliable company to design and install CCTV, Door Systems or Fire alarms, please contact Smartlink Security on 07417499770.
Sheriff Heating & Plumbing offers a wide range of services including bathroom fitting or refurbishment, boiler installation and repairs, installing water and heating systems, fixing leaks and drains amongst other services to Bedfordshire and Hertfordshire. The company is a plumbing, heating and gas specialist in Bedfordshire, Hertfordshire and surrounding areas of Buckinghamshire. Do not take our word for it, just read the wonderful online reviews from over a hundred satisfied customers.
Jordan Sheriff, the founder of Sheriff Heating & Plumbing filled in Herts Review about his journey so far, how he has achieved success and what he plans to do for the future. Jordan spent 30 years working in Aircraft Maintenance. He worked for some of the biggest companies including Monarch, Thomson and Gulfstream amongst others. While he really enjoyed the training, development and working on aircrafts, there was always an urge to do something for himself. As he liked fixing things and had been doing this for a while he decided to train as a plumber, heating and gas engineer.
After completing his courses and obtaining his certifications, he launched Sheriff Heating & Plumbing in November 2017 and has not looked back. “When I started it was difficult attracting customers as I did not have my own network”. He continued to put his name out there and took on draining and cleaning jobs. With time and perseverance he has been getting a lot of business and recommendations from some of the clients he has worked with. “I cannot claim to be the cheapest or the most expensive however if I am doing a job I give over 100% at all times. The customer must be satisfied before I leave”. If it is not good enough for me then it is not good for the customer.
Overcoming challenges has been key to the success of the business. The covid-19 pandemic lockdown was a difficult time for the Luton based business. With the social distancing requirements and restrictions on movement, business slowed down. “Only emergency plumbing or heating services were in demand”. He however confirms that business has been picking up from July and almost getting back to pre-pandemic levels.
Jordan is looking to expand the operations of the business by adding more staff and expanding its range of services. He intends to undergo more training to increase his skillset as well as work on multiple projects with other partners. In the past, he has fitted bathrooms or fully refurbished bathrooms working with other teams. “Usually the responsibility of fitting the bathroom based on the client’s requests lies with me. But I organize and manage all the other aspects – tilers, electrician, underfloor heating installation to get the project completed and signed off by the customer. There is an element of project management which I thoroughly enjoy and fits nicely with the project management training I have had in the past.
The success of Sheriff Heating & Plumbing can be attributed to hard work. With over 100 online reviews in just 3 years the business has truly taken off. Jordan is ambitious though. He wants to build a strong team, undertake bigger projects and become a preferred supplier to councils. With his excellence at work and persistence, they sky is the limit. For your plumbing services in Hertfordshire and Bedfordshire, call Sheriff Heating & Plumbing services on 07979 221 133.
DCV Technologies Ltd is using AI based smart technology to support their skilled staff to solve the age-old problem of finding and retaining the right kind of talent in organizations in the UK and globally. With offices across several continents including new operations in South Africa and Poland, the company has positioned itself as a market leader in staffing solutions that is powered by AI and smart technology. Its operations cover Information Technology (IT), Engineering & Manufacturing, Travel, and Accountancy & Finance recruitment for temporary and permanent staff.
Chan Dabare, Non-Executive Director of DCV Technologies filled Herts Review in about the journey so far and how they have made an incredible success of the business which includes working with some of the largest global tech companies. “We started the company to provide recruitment services for our parent company, Nexus Group, an IT Consultancy. Nexus Group were not attracting the right kind of staff through the various agencies we worked with at the time. While we received perfect CVs, they were never a match to the face to face interviews”.
The result was the formation of DCV Technologies. DCV is short for Digital CVs. The company has implemented a digital CV concept by integrating video recordings into the recruitment process. “DCV follows a simple but effective process. The AI based search engine supports the recruiters to find the best candidates from DCV’s CV database, Recruiters with specific domain knowledge contact potential candidates to filter and find the best match. The candidates then download DCV’s digital app that prompts 3 role specific questions and records the answering process. Our recruiters then validate the answers with the candidates and describe facts about the employer before sending the candidate CV and the video clip to our clients. Our recruiters then support our clients and candidates through every step of the onboarding process. Our clients feel more connected with our candidates even before a face to face interview.
The company had increased the success rate from interview to hire for Nexus Group and Nexus Group shared this success with their existing clients. DCV therefore was formally launched in 2007 to provide recruitment solutions to external companies and has never looked back. From successfully recruiting only IT professionals, the business expanded into Engineering, Manufacturing, Finance and Travel. Growth and expansion have followed rapidly with the company tripling its profit and revenue in its first 3 years of operation and is forecast to exceed 40% growth by 2021 across the group via acquisitions. “We are a preferred supplier to majority of the top FTSE 250 global companies”.
What is the unique formula driving these successes? According to Dabare, it is our people. “We make a great effort to find and retain the best people and integrate them into our culture. Our people must fit and maintain our culture. Integral to the culture is that we are open, transparent, and honest in everything we do. If we cannot fulfil a need for a client, we tell them immediately so that they can look elsewhere. No point messing the client about. This has worked very well for us as almost all of our business has come from referrals”. He adds, that DCV has long term relationships with her staff and clients. Most of the staff have been with the agency for over 10 years.
DCV’s global operations adopt a process whereby they “follow the sun”. For instance, a process that starts in UK will continue in South Africa which is 2 hours ahead and then Sri Lanka which is 5 and half hours ahead and back to the UK. With about 120 professionals across her global offices, the DCV process works round the clock. Professionals can work remotely from anywhere to meet their clients’ needs. In everything, the client’s needs come first. “Combining AI based technology with highly skilled professionals across the globe using its unique candidate database to support our client and candidate needs at speed is a key USP that differentiates us from other recruitment agencies”.
The experience of recruiting staff initially for Nexus Group before providing the same service to external clients stands them out too. “We know the pain of hiring in the UK and globally”. By working exclusively for Nexus at the beginning, they tried, tested, and learnt various models until we figured out the right model which served Nexus well. This same recruitment model has been rolled out to external clients. According to Dabare, “this gives us a unique edge compared to other recruitment companies and the fact that we use robotics and artificial intelligence as well”
With all the successes the business has had over the last 10 years, the Covid-19 pandemic was almost a huge threat as the travel sector, a major part of the business, has been hugely impacted due to the global travel restrictions. Fortunately, through a combination of foresight and a bit of luck, the company realigned its processes, re-training the travel recruitment team in IT recruitment. The company now has multi-skilled staff with expertise in travel and IT recruitment which has been a huge game changer with one of their clients – a global travel company working with a major tech company.
Although Dabare’s background is in Artificial Intelligence, his passion for travel and his desire to launch a travel company early this year may have just saved the day. His team were following events in China, the resulting global ban on travel and moved quickly to adapt. The issues unfolding in China in January this year was an indication to change tact to combine travel experience with IT to support staffing needs of travel tech companies. He is happy none of DCV’s staff had to be made redundant or furloughed due to the Covid-19 outbreak. “Our staff have been too loyal and given much to this business. I couldn’t fail them”.
Does he intend to slow down, you know put his feet up? No, he laughs. He enjoys hands on technology based consultancy work and supporting organisations to build and become profitable. He is not thinking about slowing down. He intends to continue his Non-Executive Director roles which he thoroughly enjoys.
With the changes Covid-19 has brought to the business space and Brexit due to happen by the end of the year, he is only thinking of the great opportunities that will result from these life changing events. Global expansion would be key to survival. The successful launch of the business in Poland in April 2020, at the height of the Covid-19 pandemic, with the business landing deals with the top 3 global tech companies and expanding the number of consultants to 50 in 6 months is a testament to this fact.
Watch this space. From acquisitions to a possible AIM listing to expansion across Europe, DCV has big goals. Dabare is an optimist. The glass is always half full. Where others see decline, he and his team see opportunities.
Recently, Herts Review got the chance to speak to Andy Sexton, Director & Co-Founder of Advanced Personnel. For over 9 years, the Dunstable based recruitment agency has been serving Hertfordshire, Bedfordshire and Buckinghamshire, providing high quality temporary and permanent recruitment solutions for residential and home care. They are the go to care recruitment agency due to the solid reputation developed among care homes, families of the residents and care professionals in the local area.
For Care homes, they can always rely on Advanced Personnel to get them the right kind of staff especially in emergency situations to keep their operations ticking over. For families of the residents, they have been happy with the quality of care provided by care professionals trained by the agency. For care professionals, the agency is known to look after their care professionals – offering them quality training, mentorship, good benefits and an opportunity to build a career. According to Sexton “We have unique relationships with Care Homes, our Care Staff and the resident’s families. We are almost an extension of their families”.
It was not always this way. The agency previously known as Advanced Industrial & Driving Personnel was placing staff at warehouses, trucking & haulage companies from its Watford base. Paul Lightfoot, Co-Founder & CEO of the agency observed that the UK has an ageing population and that quality care services would be in demand. Lightfoot and Sexton had worked together previously and with Sexton’s experience in the care recruitment space, they teamed up in 2005 to launch the care recruitment arm of the business. “We are 100% focused on care recruitment and have completely stopped industrial recruitment”.
Advanced Personnel’s core services are mainly residential care and home care. Residential care still accounts for 80% of the business but home care is growing as more families are demanding tailored quality and compassionate care while maintaining their independence. With 11 full time staff and over 140 Care Professionals, the agency has consistently grown achieving revenues of over £2m in the last financial year. “We are happy with what we have achieved over the last few years but want to maintain our customer centric services. Paul and I have worked for bigger agencies and we always felt we could do a better job than they do”.
Advanced Personnel is regulated by the Care Quality Commission (CQC) and ensures that it complies with all regulatory requirements. This means having a strong in house compliance team so that all staff have DBS checks, the required training, permits to work and meet all home office requirements. “We juggle four main key stakeholders – CQC, over 40 care homes, our Care Professionals and resident’s families. We have to keep everyone happy at all times”.
It has not been all plain sailing. Covid-19 has been the toughest challenge the agency had encountered. “It was challenging as most of our care professionals relied on public transport to get to work. In addition, the sad and unfortunate loss of life in some care homes meant our services may not be required. There were problems with PPE, some apprehension of care professionals taking on jobs for safety reasons and also the movement restrictions”. Sexton says there were many sleepless nights.
However, the agency turned it around by introducing an innovative solution – transporting their care professionals from their homes to work and back. This meant investing in 5 buses with drivers. Their care staff now get safe free travel to and from each designated work location. This indeed has become one of its USPs as free travel has been a great incentive to the care staff and care homes. It has also helped the business stabilize in this very challenging time. “Over 80% of our care staff are female and their safety is non-negotiable. No doubt we had to invest but it has worked so well and I don’t see us turning back”
If he had to start the business afresh what would he do differently? “Not much to be fair. However, I think we would have launched the home care service much earlier as we see it as an area of opportunity. The Covid-19 pandemic has only reinforced what we thought. More elderly people would want to be cared for in their own homes”.
Looking forward, the agency wants to cement its current recovery, grow the home care service of its business and be on the preferred supplier list with the local authorities. “It is key we are on the preferred supplier list as this would open more doors for our business”. While Lightfoot and Sexton are happy with the growth they have experienced so far, they are not interested in empire building. Rather, they want to be a 360 degree provider.