Every month, we will be introducing one of our fantastic Bizpedia members in our blog. You will hear about their journey as an entrepreneur and how Bizpedia has helped them.
For the first member of the month blog post, we had the pleasure of interviewing Marc Smith who is the Managing Director of GHS Group. GHS Group is a heating, plumbing, ventilation and air conditioning company that offers maintenance and installation across the South of England.
Marc has had an incredible journey as an entrepreneur! He didn’t originally set out to run a business, but in 2010, he set up GHS Group. He has a strong ethos around looking after people and a passion for sustainability.
1. What is an ideal customer for the GHS Group?
We work with both domestic and commercial clients, but from a B2B point of view our ideal customer is organisations with multi sites, anywhere where there are 5 or more people, or big factories and shops with boiler rooms. We also like to work with nurseries and hospitality businesses.
We are particularly keen on working with clients who are wanting to be more sustainable. This is something I am particularly passionate about for my company – to make boiler rooms more environmentally friendly. We have about 30 different solutions for businesses, offices and homes which are simple and cost-effective.
2. Tell us a bit about your journey as a business owner – how did you get to where you are today?
I never set out to be a business owner. I grew up in the 1980’s recession and my mum and dad had a family business and they had all kinds of problems. This put me off wanting to run a business at first, so I ended up taking a job working as an operations manager where I worked with 2 directors. After a while, they offered me an opportunity to be a partner in a new venture with them. However, I received a counter offer from someone else I was working with and I ended up going into a business partnership with him. I bought into his electrical company, which, at the time, had a quarter of a million pounds turnover. This grew to an annual turnover of 6 million a year in 2009 doing what I am doing with GHS Group now.
At the time, it was a great venture to be involved in and very exciting, but when I got into my 40’s I had a family and my ethos changed. I wanted to create a business to provide for my family. So, my business partner and I went our separate ways and I set up GHS Group in 2010. I have spent my life trying to achieve a nice working culture, and creating a business where customers know they are going to be looked after.
A really nice moment for me recently was when I was at a networking event and one of the ladies there said that she was a customer of ours. She said she had called us about her boiler issue and an engineer was sent around immediately. He looked at her boiler and said it’s under warranty. He then organised a call for her and valiant came out and fixed it for her free of charge. She followed on to say that she had called several other people and they wanted to charge her. I am proud of my member of staff for doing that, and that is what I would do if I was in that situation. It is about practising what you preach down to your workforce. My company is about family first and looking after people, both customers and staff.
It has been really important to me to create a working culture where people want to come to work and take pride in what we do. I believe that, if you look after your team, they will look after you, and look after your customers.
I invest a lot in training my staff. I currently have 2 on leadership training and another training to be an electrician. I am constantly trying to upskill my workforce as I know how vital it is.
3. Tell us a bit more about your passion for sustainability
Sustainability is important to me. I do not like waste in any form; whether this is man hours going to the wrong job, fuel, or purchasing the wrong materials. Efficiency is hugely important in my company. Waste in my industry usually goes down the tip, and then gets incinerated or thrown in landfill. However, we will manage it better so that it works better and so it requires less work, but we also manage our waste. I can tell you where the waste went from your job. We receive a ticket telling us where it goes – for example 60% went for metal recycling, 10% was incinerated, and the rest was used to make energy.
Another initiative I have is that, if a radiator costs £100, I will say to my customers, that if they pay £105, my company will put that extra £5 towards offsetting the carbon footprint. A lot of places are planting trees which is fantastic, but my company donates to a charity called OneTribe. OneTribe go to forests and teach local tribesmen how to maintain them.
We recently went to a sustainability show and we bought a bamboo bowl. Instead of giving away a bottle of champagne, the prize was to adopt a pigme hippo for a year from Marwell Zoo. I truly believe that we can all make a difference.
4. What is the biggest thing you have learnt?
I have learnt that the key to success is to recruit the right people, recruit properly and trust your gut when taking on staff.
Your workforce is so important, and you need the right people on the bus so to speak. Before I recruit staff, I DISC assess everyone to make sure that they will fit into the team.
5. What is the one piece of advice you would give your younger self if you could go back in time?
To go it alone rather than having a business partner. I think you grow so much on your journey that you can start off being aligned and go down different paths because you are forever changing and learning.
I would also tell my younger self to surround yourself with people that can positively influence your life and to be a little fish in a big pond. This is actually one of the reasons why I love Bizpedia.
6. Where do you see yourself in the future with your business?
I would like the business to grow tenfold and to sell the commercial side off at some point, but not soon.
In the future, I would like to own a local heating company that helps elderly people. I cannot see myself ever retiring.
7. How has Bizpedia benefitted you and your business?
It has allowed me to meet people, learn and grow. Everyone is so friendly and if I ask for 10 minutes for advice, people don’t push to sell to you.
I believe in the saying “you are the 5 people you surround yourself with”. I find it so nice to be rubbing shoulders with a room full of excellence.
In terms of my business, since being a member, I have received £200,000 worth of business, maybe even more, and half a million pounds worth of opportunities.
Personally, Bizpedia helped introduce me to meditation. At first I wondered if it was a bit out there, but I went with it and haven’t looked back. I now have a morning routine which incorporates meditation.
I have also read 35 audiobooks in 9 months. I read 1 book on business and 1 book on self-development, and alternate between the 2.
I have gone so deep into myself that I understand why I do things; now I know why I do things, I have put blockers into it.
8. What has been your favourite thing about being a Bizpedia member?
Watching the guests I bring enjoy themselves. They have all come back to me saying they had an amazing day, and thanking me for inviting them.
9. What is the best holiday you have ever had?
I love surfing. I had a long weekend down in Croyde when my children were young and I taught them how to surf. I love simple chalet holidays by the beach with the family.
10. Where would you like to go in the future?
I would love to go to Mexico again. I went there for my honeymoon, and I have promised my children we will go back there as they really want to go.
11. If you could go back in time, who would you want to meet and why?
I would like to meet Winston Churchill’s right-hand man. I would love to find out what he was really like to work with!
We would like to thank Marc for his time. If you would like to find out more about GHS Group, visit his company website.
If you would like to speak to Marc to find out more, you can connect with him on LinkedIn.