There is no way I can condense 26 years of what I have learnt in a blog, but I can tell you some of the absolute highs and lows experienced.
When I started Kinetic in Wellington I had been in recruitment for nearly three years. I knew I was good at recruiting, but I had no idea how to set up a business. That did not worry me one bit, for the majority of my upbringing I was left to figure it out myself, so I did just that – figured it out.
When the doors opened, I had a part time accountant and receptionist, 1 ruler, 1 hole punch and a few pens to share. The office desks and chairs were bought at an auction of a Government department I attended, the lot cost me $1,100. I had to run it lean and mean as I had very limited funds at the time. I was however fortunate to have two things going for me, my clients followed me over and the market was also great, so in three months I had paid back what I had spent setting the office up.
One of the difficult things I found at the very beginning, was deciding when the right time was to bring on a new staff member, in order to grow. You consider things such as, less money to spread around, what if the market turns, what if they are useless? All the “what ifs" start to kick in. There is a certain degree of timing with growth, which I base on need, market, sector opportunity and most importantly – the individual. A good recruiter even in a bad market finds opportunity.
I’m someone who likes to push. I’ll push myself, my staff, revenue targets, expectations of the Kinetic business so that we are the best we can be. After a while I felt it was time to open another office and so moved to Auckland in 2000 on a whim. I arrived to a mini recession unbeknownst to me. I worked out of my car, in cafes and worked every god given hour to try and survive in a city that operated very differently from the Capital.
Eventually we opened the first Auckland office in Vulcan Lane and I employed my first consultant. She was great and we together we got in at 5am daily and left late and got the Auckland office established. The difference between Wellington and Auckland back then, was Wellington was all about relationships, Auckland was 100% “how much do you charge”. I vividly remember getting our first temp order and leaping around the office feeling like I had finally cracked this tough city. That same year Kinetic won best small agency in NZ.
Fast forward to 2008, having 40 plus staff over Wellington, Auckland and North Shore. THE RECESSION. Those two plus years were absolute hell. I cannot put it any other way. During that time I had to close an office and make a large percentage of my workforce redundant – which was just terrible. You build these amazing teams and have close relationships with your employees and now they are leaving to go into a job market that is nothing but catastrophic. For two plus years, we had to grind like no other. I was running the business on an oily rag and did not take a salary for about a year as I put the company and staff first, as I should. I learnt a tremendous amount about myself and business over this time, which also helped me later when Covid hit.
Kinetic came out the other end and re-grouped and grew again, I built up the teams again, but was smarter about what I brought back into the business and also how I ran my company. Although I don’t ideally want to have that experience again, it made me a far better company owner.
Kinetic opened offices in Tauranga and Christchurch and continued to expand in other verticals whilst staff numbers grew. Of course over the years we still had our many ups and downs, nothing is ever calm in business; marriages, children (lots of them!), tragedy, staff setting up their own agencies, divorces. You name it, I’ve experienced it.
Covid hit and it was another massive jolt to business. However this time I was experienced and even though no one really knew how long or what was actually going to happen, I just went in immediate cut mode. I was fortunately in the middle of getting out of the Auckland CBD at the time and was moving the team to Newmarket, this was just lucky timing. Over this time we only lost one staff member and it was their choice, I hung onto everyone. As our normal revenue streams stopped, I knew I had to pivot fast and we all became Blue Collar and Medical recruiters, fast forward through Covid these two verticals have become significant revenue earners for the business today.
One of the biggest things that holds me to this business today is my staff, they are a tremendous group of real, driven, loyal and dedicated people who have the best time together. I sold Kinetic four years ago to an overseas publicly listed organisation that have been great to deal with. The recruitment industry is an exciting sector to be in, when you are dealing with all sorts of people on a daily basis and for over 26 years, you will hear and see it all, but that is another blog.