Monday 24 July 2017

Why finding the right people is vital to business success

Sean Gallagher meets small and medium sized business owners and shares the lessons they’ve learnt in building their companies

Sean Gallagher with Anne Fanthom Managing Director of Recruitment Plus, at the Recruitment Plus offices in Stillorgan. Photo: Frank McGrath
Sean Gallagher with Anne Fanthom Managing Director of Recruitment Plus, at the Recruitment Plus offices in Stillorgan. Photo: Frank McGrath
Sean Gallagher

Sean Gallagher

Anne Fanthom is managing director of RecruitmentPlus - a specialist recruitment company which she founded in 1999.

Headquartered in Stillorgan, Co Dublin, and with offices in Dundalk and Limerick, the company employs 16 staff and has an annual turnover of more than €4.5m.

"We offer a broad range of recruitment services in a number of specific sectors, ranging from pharmaceutical and healthcare to manufacturing and engineering, as well as property, finance, hospitality and the commercial sector," explains Anne.

"While our services cover traditional permanent recruitment, we also have a busy temp desk, as well as a very successful contract division, where companies can choose to have staff on our monthly payroll, rather than increase their own head count," she adds.

Anne's clients are all Irish-based and are made up of a mix of multinationals, indigenous Irish companies and SMEs, as well as a number of State bodies. "Our USP is that our recruiters are not just sales people," says Anne.

"Each consultant understands and has specific experience or qualifications in the sector in which they recruit.

"This gives them the specific expertise and insights required to best meet, and hopefully exceed, our clients' expectations."

Originally from Limerick, Anne was exposed to business from an early age because her father ran a very successful dental laboratory business which, at its height, employed as many as 40 staff.

Anne recalls spending her school holidays working in various jobs there, from being receptionist in the accounts department to assisting the technicians in the laboratory.

"The experience gave me a strong work ethic, as well as the confidence to one day consider starting my own business," says Anne.

"Watching my father work taught me the value of being team-minded, and of drawing on the resources and skill sets of each individual.

"Importantly, too, he taught me to treat everyone with respect."

However, her father, like many hard-working business owners, spent so much time building and growing the business to provide a good quality of life for his family that when he died prematurely at only 41, Anne promised herself that she would strive for a better work/life balance should she ever find herself in a similar position.

After school, she completed a diploma in teaching before getting a job as a trainee recruiter with Manpower (Department of Labour) in Limerick, where she remained for four years.

In 1985, and eager to broaden her experience, she headed to London, where she joined ADECCO, a Fortune Global 500 company and one of the largest staffing firms in the world. Here, she continued to hone her skills for the next decade.

Married by then and with a daughter, Anne decided it was time to return to Ireland where, for a time, she worked as a sales rep in the Leinster area for the business her father founded, before joining listed recruitment company CPL.

"CPL was a good company to work with," she says. "However, it was a very large company and I felt that there was an opening in the market for a smaller, niche recruitment business, where the staff had sector-specific experience and could, as a result, relate better to the clients they were working with."

So three years later, in 1999, she left to set up RecruitmentPlus, with two staff, from the kitchen table in her family home.

"It was nerve-wrecking at the time," says Anne. "However, after just three days, we landed our first client and within a week our first placement, which gave us the confidence to keep going.

"Things grew gradually from there and before long, we moved into our current offices in Stillorgan and the following year, opened an office in Dundalk."

After only three years in business, RecruitmentPlus were awarded Best Small Recruitment Agency at the National Recruitment Federation Awards, an achievement that helped the company enhance its brand recognition and credibility within the sector.

"For us, it's about getting to know our clients' businesses, their culture and how we can support them to reach their goals by providing the right candidates for the right jobs.

"And that's what has made us successful," explains Anne.

"However, building a strong team and sourcing the right skilled and talented consultants for our own business was our own biggest challenge at the time.

"To achieve this, I had to draw on my own recruitment experience to ensure I hired people who had not only the right skills set, but the right attitude and who were self-motivated.

"Today, though, I am immensely proud of the team we have and even more proud of the fact that many of the original team are still with the company to this day - something that is not very common in our industry."

Anne Fanthom clearly loves what she does. As she looks forward to the future, she is focused on growth.

She is keen to continue to develop her team, hire more staff and possibly branch into new sectors, where she sees further growth potential.

"And who knows - we might even open another office in the near future," she says.

For further information, see www.recruitmentplus.ie

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