15 years young!
1999 was the year that mobile phones became main-stream, prior to that less than half of the UK population owned a mobile phone. Recruitment Consultants spent their working days making surreptitious calls, trying to get past wily receptionists and they spent their evenings calling home numbers in an attempt to have a meaningful conversation with candidates between dinner and the first glass of Chardonnay! 1999 was an auspicious year for us too, Jarvis Johnson was incorporated on 1st April 1999, however the decision to set up this new venture proved far from foolish…
Two Technical Managers in the Food Manufacturing industry had a vision, to become the “go-to” agency for Interim Managers in the Food Industry. Peter and Lisa Johnson (then Lisa Stodart) had become Interim Technical Managers in the fledgling Food Interim Management market and were soon being asked for referrals for other Interim Managers; Food Companies had no idea how to get hold of people in a hurry and there were no Food-industry specific agencies at the time positioning themselves as Interim Providers, so with a database of 13 Interim Managers (basically our network of friends!) we took on an office in Saddler’s Court, Bawtry, took out an Ad in Food Manufacture to try and entice other Interim Managers to join our database and waited for the phone to ring. The first call we took, on the day of publication, was not from an Interim Manager but from a multi-national Dairy needing an Interim Planning Manager ..and we were off!
Over the next few years the numbers of Interims on our database grew, as did our reputation, and our main source of candidates and clients was not through advertising but via referrals (this still is a hugely important source of business for us). Clients loved getting an Interim Manager in place within a day or 2 of contacting us but quickly discovered that Interim Managers were not going to solve their problems long term; virtually every Interim Manager in those days received a permanent job offer but the majority were Career Interims with no interest in joining the payroll so we decided to add permanent recruitment to our portfolio as a response to what our clients were telling us they needed.
In 2004 we tragically lost Peter in a car accident and it was a tough call whether to continue to grow the business or to shut up shop. The company and Lisa helped prop each other up and the following year the company moved to bigger premises at Heather Court in Doncaster, some of you may remember we celebrated with a launch party, ably assisted by a chocolate fountain and ribbon-cutting by Billy Russell from Hull City AFC, a football club close to our heart!
2013 saw another major change with the further specialisation of Jarvis Johnson to focus, not just on Food Manufacturing, but on Technical, QA, Hygiene, Specifications and Product Development. The time was right to make a change. Trying to cover everything can sometimes result in doing nothing to the high standards we have always set ourselves. When you find yourself one of 4 agencies calling the same Production Manager for the same job and not having time to call back the company who has a BRC Audit next month and needs an Interim Technical Manager to start tomorrow you know it’s time for a change!
Fifteen years later our database has grown from the 13 to in excess of 10,000 candidates, we regularly speak to Interim Managers who joined us in the ‘nineties and still deal with some of the same clients, although invariably the companies they work for have changed (due to redeployment, redundancy or rebranding!)
So what are the stand-out moments of the last 15 years? Many of them involve the people who have helped make Jarvis Johnson the company it is today. Fun times with team-mates; a “wear-your-pyjamas to work” day for charity, running the “Race for Life” in orange tutu’s, having a photo shoot on space-hoppers for our Christmas cards, a strategy weekend at Champneys involving a fire alarm with us all in dressing gowns, dancing the night away in Dover Street after the Food Manufacture Awards, pizza nights doing candidate update calls, I could go on and on. Needless to say, alongside the fun bits there has been a lot of hard work and countless late nights (touche éclat is a desk-drawer staple!). Any-one who operated in recruitment / interim management during the recession and who toughed it out to remain in the sector will know that frustration and disappointment go hand in glove with excitement and fulfilment, often during the same phone call! You don’t have to be mad to work in recruitment..but it helps (as does the odd crate or 2 of Sauvignon Blanc!)
So aged 15 what have we learnt? Do what you say you are going to do, (if you can’t then flag it up as soon as possible). Get back to people (if you don’t it will come back to bite you) and if you’ve had a really bad day..dig out a Space Hopper!