As we approach our 45th anniversary, Business Director Dave Maloney discusses how things have changed since he joined Fircroft in 1986.
When did you start working at Fircroft?
I joined Fircroft back in 1986; I have had the pleasure in recent years of going to client meetings and hearing them say that they weren’t even born then, which I find quite amusing. In 1986 the company was already sixteen years old, and a leader in the UK oil and gas industry. Back then, our name alone was enough to open clients’ doors – a fact that has made my life noticeably easier wherever the job has taken me since then.
Despite being here since the mid-80s, I am by no means the longest standing member of staff. There are employees still working hard for the company now who were here before I was; Rob Griffin, Terry Blackburn and Keith Hughes were all working with Fircroft pre-1986. The four of us formed what was the recruitment department, along with a lady named Cheryl Harrison who moved on in 1988 to start her family. We had a team of two that made up our admin department, and a finance department of approximately 8 people. Carol Hart will not thank me for mentioning that I do believe she may actually be the longest serving member outside of John himself; she worked in the finance team in Sale, and is still working in accounts today. My point here is this; I am definitely not the oldest or longest serving member. Others deserve that credit!
The business began working from a first floor office above the shops in Sale Moor; it is the offices above what is now Bargain Booze in the photo. After many happy years, we moved just up the road to Trinity House, a converted Methodist church. From there we moved in stages to Warrington, and finally to our present home in Lingley House - a fantastic story of buildings which mirrors the consistent growth of the business. Our Head Office at Lingley House is fitting for a company that I can confidently say is a world leader in our field.
How have things changed within the business?
In those days, recruitment was significantly different – there were hard copy CVs in rows of filing cabinets and two overworked admin staff typing them up on a telex machine. The internet, mobile phones and websites consisting of thousands of CVs did not exist. Following the telex machine was the fax machine era, before the revolution of the internet and emails. I recall there being 230 contractors on our books in 1986; when we hit the 500 mark, we had quite the celebration! We even had a presentation box made for all our staff with engraved glasses and champagne for the “Fircroft 500”.
One memory that stands out is that once a month, John and Ron (ex vice-Chairman) would take it in turns to buy lunch for us all. Fast forward 30 years, and this tradition is comparable to “Thank Fircroft it’s Friday”. At Head Office, breakfast is provided for all staff on the last Friday of every month, which reminds me every time I see everybody queuing to get into the kitchen how some things never change.
In the late 90s we were expanding our services steadily. We had started to diversify the business by providing recruitment solutions for other industries outside of oil and gas. It was around that time that there was a shift in our clients’ projects; one particular client advised us to expand outside of the UK. This took us down the path to Norway where we had to make a basic registration with the tax department there; this was followed by another client advising us to do the same thing in Holland. The biggest change was our expansion into Kazakhstan; from there, things took really took off! The things were learned in Kazakhstan lead to another office in Azerbaijan, and soon after came Russia – this was the period, in my opinion, when Fircroft became global.
Looking back it is quite incredible - I have now opened and registered so many offices over the years that I sometimes forget one or two! After those already mentioned, there was Canada (Calgary and St Johns), Singapore, South Korea, Alaska, Toledo, Trinidad, Brazil, and I also helped to establish our presence in Thailand. Fircroft’s global footprint is amazing; if someone had told me all those years ago that we would one day operate in over 60 countries, I would not have believed it looking out above the shops in Sale Moor. Although, there is one thought I have always had – why can’t they find oil in the Seychelles or the Bahamas?
What do you see for Fircroft’s future?
In our early years, sales grew by around 10/12% and that stayed consistent for quite some time. The phenomenal growth we have seen over the last few years was sparked by our CEO, Johnathan Johnson, recognising the importance of a client-driven initiative to make their contracts global. We secured global contracts numerous world-leading oil and gas businesses, and some of these contracts are now in their 2nd and 3rd generations.
The questions I have been asked countless times all over the world is, “Why Fircroft? Why have staff remained so loyal to the company for such a long time?” For me, the answer is simple; it genuinely is a family company with a complete open door policy. I will bet there are not many people in the company who have not met and spoken to our Chairman John or CEO Johnathan. Here we are in 2015, a huge global footprint, close to 700 staff, 8,500 contractors, world leaders in technical recruitment. Where will the business take us next? Speaking from experience, Fircroft offers its staff an unparalleled opportunity to gain first class professional experience on an international level – the world really is our oyster. Here is to the next 45 years.