John Johnson founded Fircroft in April 1970. Here he talks about how the business started and how things have developed over the last 45 years.
How did Fircroft begin?
Looking back over the last 45 years, it is incredible to see how far we have come in comparison to how and when the business started. Prior to founding Fircroft, I was a contractor working in the oil and gas industry as a Consultant Cost and Design Engineer. Towards the end of 1969 whilst working for Shell, I was asked to bring in more engineers as I knew so many people within my profession working for numerous businesses. Through doing so, I built a network of people and eventually, Shell outsourced their cost and design work to me.
When I received my first paycheque from Shell, they had addressed it to “Fircroft Ltd”; Fircroft was the name of my house at the time. I was told by my bank that without an account in this name, I wouldn’t be able to cash the cheque; and fortunately, the name Fircroft Ltd was available. From this, Fircroft was born. Through doing so, I then started the company which Shell had been looking to use to outsource personnel – so ultimately, Shell chose the name of the business without even knowing it.
I started off simply recruiting roles for the North Sea – there were very few experienced workers in this field, therefore I contacted petrochemical professionals and things took off. I recruited a few team members to help with the workload, and soon enough we started to work with more clients and open more offices. I started off in a small office in Stockport, but as time went on and I began having more client meetings, I realised it was time to move to an office with more space. My wife owned a hair salon in Sale and told me the offices above were vacant, so I moved there as soon as possible. This often resulted in clients having a haircut and a cup of tea downstairs before coming up for their meetings!
When did Fircroft start to really take off?
As the business continued to prosper, we needed to expand into larger offices –we moved to Trinity House and the additional offices in Birchwood, and then to our current Head Office at Lingley House in Birchwood. There was steady growth year on year, but the business really took off when my son, Johnathan, joined Fircroft. Before he worked for Fircroft he was a contract surveyor on the London underground working as a consultant. The agency he worked for at the time asked him to open an office in Leeds; with him considering working up north again, I offered him the opportunity to open up a new office for Fircroft instead.
The rest is history – Johnathan went from Managing Director to CEO, and the growth the business has seen since my son has been in charge is truly inspiring. I couldn’t be more proud of where we are now.
What does the future hold for Fircroft?
Johnathan joined the business just as the huge changes started – offices were being opened all over the world, we were hiring more members of staff and developing our client relationships. We are now a global company, operating in over 60 countries worldwide. There are more than 600 members of staff globally and over 8,000 contractors currently working for Fircroft. It is hard for me to put into words how I feel about Fircroft now compared to 45 years ago; to say that I am proud is an understatement. The future for Fircroft is exciting – years ago clients weren’t interested in global services, but this has now completely changed. There are more client prospects, more candidate opportunities and very positive predictions for the future. With the oil price being so unpredictable, recruiting in the oil and gas industry can often be a difficult task. However, Fircroft now covers roles in numerous technical sectors, and with Johnathan’s leadership I have no worries at all for the future of the business.
I would like to take this opportunity to thank all members of staff, as well as our contractors, clients and candidates. The past 45 years have been a huge success, and I am looking forward to seeing what the future holds for Fircroft.