CELEBRATING 10 YEARS CREATING EXCEPTIONAL EXPERIENCES OUR STANTON HOUSE STORY: NICK EAVES, CO-FOUNDER
Our Co-Founder, Nick Eaves reflects on Stanton House’s very early days as we celebrate 10 successful years in business…
Taking the leap
I remember very well what a leap of faith it was to start Stanton House ten years ago.
Neil Wilson (my Co-Founder) and I both left our previous employer in March 2010, just after it had been acquired by a massive global recruitment business. After more than 15 years of good times working together, we took this as a sign…it was time to move on.
We had plenty of time to plan to start a Company that Summer as we had contractual covenants that prevented us working until 1st October - which is the day we incorporated Stanton House.
My wife had recently had our third son and her support did not waver on a path with very uncertain earning potential. It was a very similar situation for Neil, and we have often spoken of how important it has been to have the support of our families in building the business.
That summer, we would meet at a pal’s office in Golden Square to work out what sort of new recruitment business would carve out a share of this competitive marketplace. Right from the start we knew it was all about Customers, a term little-used in our sector. There was much we were proud of from our shared experiences at our previous employer, but much we felt could be better.
We were adamant that we only wanted to work with people who believed in what we believe – Integrity, Energy, Ambition, and a passion for delivering exceptional customer experiences. Andrew Brown joined the team at the start as Non-Exec Chairman which was a big boost.
We wrote a lot of lists! The most important one being of people we knew and trusted to whom we might want to sell the dream! Names like Denise Abrahams, Lee Costello, Kevin Culverhouse and David Fleming.
But the first few days of October it just was Neil and I with two phones in a tiny serviced office on High Holborn, overlooking Sports Direct. The two of us had not hands-on recruited for over a decade so we were well out of our comfort zone in those early months. We didn’t have much of a network to speak of, having been entirely preoccupied with leading people in recent years, rather than doing deals!
With all of that in mind, a lot of people thought we were nuts to start a business, and some of them even told us so! 2010 was a very difficult time for the UK economy and plenty of established recruitment businesses were failing. But we knew this was our moment - it was now or never.
I believe that often the hardest decisions in life turn out to be the best ones and this was no different. Our plan was for Neil to build our Accountancy & Finance specialism while I concentrated on Change Management.
A few firsts
Our skinny network did come through with an early £1,000 a day Finance Transformation Role which enabled us to generate some great candidates, some of which we are still in contact with today.
I also picked up an opportunity with a pal who had just landed as a Project Director (thank-you Stan!) at a FTSE 250 business delivering a new ERP. That got us off the mark and here are the very first fees paid to Stanton House!
The big step forward was when Denise Abrahams joined us! She sorted everything out so Neil and I could just focus on customers and building the team.
Then a key moment came for Stanton House, at the Runnymede Hotel on a chilly February evening in 2011. Two of the best recruiters we had ever worked with (Lee Costello and Kevin Culverhouse) decided to join forces with us, it was from that point on that we really started to build momentum.
We got used to having the fear day-to-day as we tried to get the business to the point of generating sustainable profit, and that took a couple of years really. But that fear makes you feel very alive. There is lots of adrenaline and the wins are really special.
We will be forever grateful for the people who backed us in those early days. Investors, clients, candidates and the colleagues who trusted their career with a business that was not much more than a dream and a set of values.