Rise Magazine Article – Life In The Fast Lane
At Portsmouth telemarketing company MarketMakers they never take their foot off the gas. Fun is an essential part of their amazing success story, says operations director Henry Braithwaite.
I met Paul Thomas, the managing director, at school. We went to college together, and then straight into work. At 21 we set up this business. We’d got to a point where we were both working in call centres and marketing services, and wanted to set up our own business. We thought: we’ll go and do it ourselves. That was 10 years ago.
Paul and I started off in his bedroom and my kitchen. We’ve had some great times, and we’ve managed to grow pretty much 40 percent a year for the last seven years. Growth was even bigger in the early years.
“We have more than 300 staff and we’re taking extra spaces at our offices, with another 50 seats. We’re also opening an office in Atlanta. It’s pretty full on.”
Last year we rose to 20th position on the Sunday Times list of the 100 best small companies to work for. Our clients include HSBC, Holiday Inn, Microsoft, Deloitte, Samsung and Toshiba.
From the outset the business was ambitious and passionate. Businesses like that attract a certain kind of person. The more ambitious you are, the more ambitious people you get. Therefore, momentum is important. And we need to demonstrate big year-on-year growth, because if we can’t grow our own’ businesses, then we can’t grow our clients’ businesses. The proof is in the pudding.
This is a very lively and energetic business. Every Monday we get the entire company together outside my office and we vote for ‘man of the match,’ or we ‘knight’ someone with my big broardsword if they’ve performed really well. Sometimes we do a bit of karaoke or circuit training, or maybe tug-of-war or go-kart racing.
We have an incentive programme called Pimp my Desk, where you can choose an extra flat-screen monitor, an upgraded headset or a leather attaché case. For special achievements you can earn a nice suit or a montblanc pen.
Paul and I grew up in the area and we still live in the city. Ninety per cent of our staff live in a five or 10-mile radius. We do have a bit of a hub of call centres around here, in the greater Portsmouth area – insurance and out-sourcing and financial services. So there’s a good pool of talent for us – it’s easy to find people locally.
Portsmouth is in close proximity to London, which is important to most businesses, but it hasn’t got London costs. The recruitment pool is very good, and it’s location is attractive too. If people are enjoying the city life we’ve got it here, and if they’re looking to move out of the city life, for the countryside or the sea, you can tick those boxes.
I’m always saying to people that things are going on in Portsmouth. When our clients come in from across the country, they see this building (1000 Lakeside, see p42-43), the Porsche dealership nearby and other developments. There’s a good feeling about the city at the moment.
Article courtesy of Rise Magazine and picture courtesy by Mark Maguire.