It’s always great to hear from those in the know. We were delighted that this week, Gary Breach, Managing Director at NECS, took the time to sit down with us and discuss how the company has evolved since its inception, and also how the industry has a whole has changed since then.
Gary has been at NECS from day one, carefully guiding it through its expansion, and also through the tougher times of the recession.
GB: “When we started the company our primary target was the ‘Bar, Restaurant and Nightclub’ sector along with some retail customers. This enabled us to get our business off the ground and continue to grow. In 2008, this all changed when the recession hit and many of those original customers have long since closed their doors.”
Feeling that the environment was changing, Gary and the NECS team took the time to reevaluate their direction.
GB: “[We] have since been targeting more Office, Industrial, Education and Healthcare sectors. It took about 3 years of fighting hard to stand still and maintain our turnover rather than achieve any growth. However, for the last 3 years, we have seen that the market is stabilising and we have seen substantial growth year on year in these sectors and overall.”
Despite NECS being based near Newcastle upon Tyne since their inception, and the North East statistically still struggling in the aftermath of the Great Recession, Gary wouldn’t quite agree that there’s no light at the end of the tunnel.
GB: “I think our client base has changed dramatically during the recession, but generally for the better in terms of the business sectors we now serve. Having our Head Office near the city of Newcastle we have actually seen lots of our clients locally flourishing during the recession and going through periods of growth. A large percentage of our current clients have been with us since long before the recession and appear to be thriving, so my experience has been that the North East has remained strong throughout.”
GB: “We ourselves launched a new office in the North West near Manchester to start up in that area, mid-recession back in 2010 and have found this to have been a great success story.”
And it’s not just the North East, but a sector that Gary feels has begun to thrive nationally.
GB: “One of my main roles within the company is to visit potential clients across these areas and Yorkshire, and more recently into the Midlands, and carry out our site surveys in order to quote. I think across all 4 geographical areas the recovery is well and truly underway and it is nice to hear so many positive success stories from other businesses.”
With so many dramatic changes in the market in the last decade, Gary shared his thoughts on what the future offered for the industry, and how NECS is preparing for it.
GB: “We think that the commercial cleaning industry is in a state of growth again. Clients though are becoming more demanding in terms of service levels, communication and professionalism. We feel that the client’s expectations will continue to grow over the next 8 years and we need to keep pace and exceed these expectations. To ensure we can do this we have made some substantial investment over the last 12 months to put in place the correct management systems and to make sure we have the right company ethos from the ground up.”
NECS are certainly setting the stage for growth and the improved service that clients are coming to expect, with the recent acquisition of some very coveted ISO accreditations, and Gary spoke of his pride at the recent announcement.
GB: “The ISO accreditations help us demonstrate that we have the correct management systems in place and that we implement them on the quality, environmental and health and safety elements of the service we offer. As a business, we are unaware of any other cleaning companies that possess ISO 9001, ISO 14001 and OHSAS 18001 from a UKAS accredited body.”
GB: “We know through experience that these accreditations give our existing and potential customers the confidence and peace of mind that they are dealing with a professional organisation.”
GB: “We are already finding that this is opening doors to larger clients who need to know they are working with a company with the same attitude to Quality, The Environment and Health and Safety that they do.”
We asked Gary how much of NECS’ success was down to the ability of the company to differentiate themselves from their competitors like this.
GB: “I think that there have always been a lot of cleaning companies around as it is a very easy industry to start a business in.”
GB: “We have always differentiated ourselves within the industry by being a proactive company with a strong management team to ensure we deliver what we agree with the clients from the outset, this has now been backed up with our accreditations.”
Gary enjoys standing out from the crowd, including some of their more recent cleaning jobs, and he spoke of his admiration for the people he meets on the job as much as the diversity of cleaning jobs out there. We asked Gary if he had a favourite cleaning job.
GB: “For me personally it is more about the client interaction we get from sites rather than the type of building it is. I do like to visit unusual sites such as churches and older buildings that have been renovated, but more often than not it is the people we meet that make the difference.”
GB: “I think deep down I am proud of all the work we have carried out over the last 8 years as it has all been part of getting us to where we are today. Again I think the unusual jobs that stick in your memory so the deep clean we carried out at St Thomas Church in County Durham is one that stands out as one to be proud of due to the age and importance of the building and the fact that we were the first ones to be cleaning dust from walls that were potentially hundreds of years old.”
Finally, where does Gary see NECS being in the Newcastle area?
GB: “We will continue to be headquartered in the Newcastle Area and both maintain and grow our team of staff and our customer base here. From here we will also manage and grow our teams in Yorkshire, the North West and the Midlands with plans in 2015 to open an office and establish a customer base north of the Border in Scotland. The ultimate goal is to have national coverage by 2020.”
If you’re interested in finding out more, feel free to get in touch with NECS.