Celebrating 18 years
Harvey Lawrence celebrates 18 years in business this month. As a well-known construction recruitment specialist, Harvey Lawrence sources talent across engineering, management, technical and commercial disciplines in the construction sector. The business has seen many changes in the last 18 years, and it is a consistent approach to quality that has built the successful business we know today. The driving force behind the company, Sarah Harvey, is also celebrating 30 years as a construction recruiter this year. Here, she talks about the business and what makes Harvey Lawrence successful. What motivated you to start your own recruitment business? I had always wanted to have my own business, even within my first two or three years as a recruiter. I remember attending an event with my then Director for the Businesswoman of the Year Awards in Yorkshire in 1992 and he commented “that will be you one day”. Not that I think I have reached those dizzy heights, but it did strike a chord with me and I knew that working for someone else wasn’t my long-term aim. It was my move to Manchester in 1993, to set up the Manchester office for Hays and the key role I played in the development and then management of the Northern region, that really gave me the confidence and skill. Whilst I value what l learned in nearly 12 years with a major player, I ultimately wanted to prove to myself that I could do things my own way and put my own personal stamp on a business. What makes Harvey Lawrence different? I genuinely believe the things that make us different are not all that complicated, in fact they are very simple. We are incredibly knowledgeable and we are upfront and honest. When you break it down to what clients and jobseekers want, it’s about dealing with a recruitment company that can show real market understanding and do the job properly. We know that people have long memories and therefore we consider business ethics to be high on our agenda. This attitude really helps to differentiate us in an industry in which I feel business ethics can be seriously lacking. With the increased demand for staff over the last few years, I think this lack of skill and ethics has been further eroded. There are still good recruiters out there, but I feel that they are in the minority. For the good of the sector it needs to be sorted out. For Harvey Lawrence, however, it is a major differentiator; we are much more than CV pushers. We are well-connected, particularly at senior management level and I know that we are taken seriously by many construction professionals as well as amongst our competitors. We have been around a long time, we have placed many people, including in senior level positions, which we do by doing the job properly and being so much more than post boxes. For us it is about longevity, sustainability and pride. All of these things are priceless. It is what makes you hold your head up high and I have made certain that these ethics are upheld throughout the business without compromise. What are you most proud of? I am proud that I started a business from scratch and that 18 years later it is still here and is in better shape than it has ever been with a rock-solid credit rating and credibility. The brand is respected, it is very stable and successful. I have learned some hard lessons from the last recession which makes me always keep my feet on the ground and importantly learn from mistakes. I probably didn’t realise how hard it would be to guide a business through a recession, through lots of legislative change, always gambling your own money. I think a lot of stress, busloads of determination with hopefully a smattering of insight got me through. What is the secret to longevity? It’s about being good at what you do, clearly, but it is much more than that. Adapting to change and embracing new ideas is paramount, especially in the ever-changing recruitment industry. Sadly, this industry is not known for engendering trust so Harvey Lawrence works hard to cast away the negatives associated with the recruitment industry which is why we’ve built so many long-standing relationships. I believe my three decades in the industry and valuable experience gained during this time, means I won't take unnecessary risks. Market conditions are fluid so for me, it is about sustainability, strong compliance and commercials. What do you see as the major changes in the construction sector since setting up Harvey Lawrence? For me, the industry has become much more process and governance-led and has made significant headway in improving its image. The amount of Tier 1 companies has reduced through merger/acquisition and business failure. No longer is the view that biggest is best. In fact, the SME market has really been a game changer for the sector as they now provide very real competition to the larger players and I think the view of the SME space has changed in the last 18 years. They are now taken very seriously and quite rightly as they have attracted some excellent talent. They also have the added advantage of being very price competitive. In fact, we frequently see people migrating from the large players to the regionals as they feel that they can take on a bigger role but clearly there are still those that prefer to stay with what they feel is the security of the larger players. For most people who have been in the construction sector long enough, they know that it is very susceptible to market fluctuation. I think regardless of how busy the market is, the dread of a recession is never far from peoples’ minds. We have gone from a nation of school builders to high rise residential builders. Now everyone is asking how long the developer boom will last and what will replace it. There are also those who, some may say wisely, opted to stick with public sector work as a safer option. There has definitely been a change of work streams and procurement routes, bringing with them their own challenges. What I do remember very well... a few years ago people asked what they would do after the school building had finished as they had not developed their private sector contacts in time and the same question could be asked now of those that are so heavily reliant on the private sector. There has also been a clear move of permanent staff taking to the freelance option for a whole host of reasons. This route has become more widely accepted by construction companies to attract the services of construction professionals and it is definitely the route in the trades and labour market due to its cost effectiveness. Even against the background of legislative change, I think the current market uncertainty means we will see more of this but there will need to be closer examination of how services are supplied in certain circumstances. I also think that some of the characteristics of the UK construction workforce have changed. Long gone is the general acceptance of “have suitcase, will travel” if the money is right. I think people will take less money to be near home and this attitude has strengthened over the years. In the geographical areas where we are strongest, the North West and the Midlands, people who live in Liverpool don’t tend to want to travel to Manchester and vice versa. Similarly, in the Midlands people based in Stoke-on-Trent, don’t tend to want to travel to Birmingham. Twenty years ago, it was generally accepted that you travelled in excess of an hour each way to work. Nowadays, we see people making decisions on which job to take based on its location. If they can get the train or the tram, they are often prepared to take less money for less travel. What changes have you seen in recruitment and what are your thoughts? Since the inception of Harvey Lawrence, the changes have been enormous. The way in which recruitment is done – the gradual drive towards automation and technological advance and changes in procurement of recruitment services in terms of the likes of applicant tracking systems, recruitment portals, PSLs and Master Vendors combined with the growth in social media and email marketing. All these represent change to how traditional recruitment was done. I fully recognise the importance and power of technology, particularly the value that can be created through quality content and thoughtful engagement strategies. However, I think that this is an area that is overcrowded and current content is very “same as”. I don’t think this does anything to find quality people, in fact it potentially deters quality people coming forward. I am concerned that there is a danger of deskilling and devaluing the recruitment process and the recruitment industry which would be a shame for recruiters who still want to go out and engage with clients and candidates, build relationships and find the best candidates. I think technology should be used intelligently but currently I think it is churning out uninspiring, personality-less content that will do little to bring the best people to the fore. ------ In summary, it is clear that the recruitment industry is ever evolving and keeping up is essential in such a competitive industry. The number of competitors is significantly more than when Harvey Lawrence first opened its doors, so keeping abreast of the latest developments in the industry keeps specialist recruiters at the top. The skill and knowledge of a good, well-connected recruiter with market credibility is still the key factor to delivering results in what is now a very compliance-led industry. The leadership, tenacity and adaptability that Harvey Lawrence’s founder and director Sarah has shown over almost two decades, go a long way to explain why the business is celebrating 18 strong years this month. Here’s to many more. Join in the conversation with Harvey Lawrence over on our social channels! Connect with us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and LinkedIn or contact us now to discuss your next career move.
Face Fit Testing for our clients
Here at Harvey Lawrence, we have been providing a face fit testing service for our clients in order to maximise protection against harmful airborne substances. Harvey Lawrence director Gary Harvey explains more: “We have carried out face fit tests for clients and candidates throughout the Midlands, North West and beyond both on site and our own premises. We ensure that the equipment selected is suitable for each individual we deal with.” We provide a qualitative testing service, used for disposable and half face masks. The individual is required to wear a hood over the head and shoulders while the tester sprays a bitter solution into the hood. The wearer is required to carry out a series of exercises to determine whether the mask’s seal provides suitable protection. Recent research has shown that around 50% of RPE used does not offer the wearer the level of protection advertised. Why not? Because it doesn’t fit correctly. Estimates suggest that thousands die annually as a result of exposure to hazardous materials during their working lives. This annual loss can be combatted by the correct selection, fitting and use of respiratory protective equipment (RPE). Test requirements: No smoking, drinking, eating or chewing gum for 15 minutes before the test, as this could affect the results. No beards or stubble where the mask seals because this affects the fit (some goatee beards are ok, but it depends where the mask sits on the wearer; there may also be an issue with longer sideburns) A test must be done for each different type of mask Join in the conversation with Harvey Lawrence over on our social channels! Connect with us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and LinkedIn or contact us now to discuss your recruitment needs.
Commonwealth Games - What will Birmingham 2022 mean for the city?
Commonwealth Games Federation (CGF) chief David Grevemberg states Birmingham has "little room for error" as it prepares to stage the 2022 Commonwealth Games. Birmingham now has just three years to complete a range of projects before staging one of the world’s biggest sporting events. The South African city of Durban was initially selected to host the 2022 Games. However, it was stripped of the event after failing to meet key obligations. "With this accelerated timeframe there becomes little room for error, which has its risks, but it also has its benefits," Grevemberg told BBC Sport. "You're not constantly planning and reinventing, you actually have to get on the ground and start making things happen.” Construction has already begun on the Commonwealth Games Village site in Perry Barr – which will provide a ‘home away from home’ for around 6,500 athletes and officials arriving to the Midlands in the summer of 2022. Commitments secured by Birmingham City Council, mean the lead contractor on the residential element of the athletes’ village will provide: The development of on-site training and engagement facility and a related £1.28million package of training 1,000 pre-employment training places, giving those involved the skills and industry accreditation to work on construction sites 50 existing apprenticeships working on site via the project’s supply chain The creation of 400 jobs, including 50 new apprenticeships and 30 paid summer interns An overall total of 22,000 person weeks of training and employment opportunities (for the 2022 Games) against a benchmark for a project of this size of 18,000 person weeks. Earlier this year, despite protests from the Save Londonderry Lane Playing Fields group, Sandwell Council approved the building of a new £60 million aquatic centre in Smethwick. Councillor Maria Crompton, Sandwell Council’s cabinet member for safer communities, is looking forward to seeing the development take shape. In an interview with the Express & Star, she said: "This is an exciting time for Sandwell and our residents. We want this new facility to really inspire people young and old to get involved in new sports and leisure activities, become more active and live healthier lifestyles. “The centre will also leave an amazing legacy for Sandwell and will provide access to top-class sporting facilities for local people beyond the Commonwealth Games in 2022.” Harvey Lawrence director Sarah Harvey anticipates the potential impact such an event will have: “The 2022 Commonwealth Games combined with the HS2 project will firmly place Birmingham in the spotlight as a global city. Will the area get the long-awaited boost it needs to rival Manchester? Time will tell.” With large-scale projects comes the demand for diligent and professional staff across a range of disciplines. Harvey Lawrence boasts a wealth of experience in providing first class staffing solutions, as Sarah explains: “We have a strong Midlands office, supplying a whole range of staff to main contractors in the area. Our service offering spans both white and blue-collar staffing solutions. Our team are very familiar with the area and have a long-standing knowledge of the market. We’re really excited to get involved with helping companies in their hunt for the best construction talent.” DID YOU KNOW? The Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games will take place from 27 July to 7 August – twenty years after the Manchester 2002 Commonwealth Games and ten years on from the London 2012 Olympics The total cost of the 11-day event is a whopping £778m! It will be the biggest sporting and cultural event ever held in Birmingham, featuring thousands of world-class athletes, over a million spectators and an estimated global TV audience of 1.5 billion Andy Street, Mayor of the West Midlands, shared his thoughts on how significant the event will be for the area: “This is a huge investment in Birmingham and the wider West Midlands to ensure the Commonwealth Games leaves a legacy far beyond 2022. “Investment in the region is already being unlocked thanks to the Games, with improvements to public transport and the regeneration of Perry Barr well underway. We expect the wider benefits of hosting the Games, including the economic and tourism boost, to last long into the future.” For more news, useful information and the latest job openings, follow our social channels! Connect with us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and LinkedIn or contact us now to discuss all your recruitment needs.
Harvey Lawrence: Doing the job properly
CASE STUDY: Here we look at Irodion Rachiotis, a highly accomplished international Project Director with more than 20 years’ experience. Upon his return to Manchester he applied for numerous agency advertisements without success. What makes Harvey Lawrence different? Read on to find out… Irodion returned to England after more than 10 years in the Middle East, having most recently worked in Bahrain managing up to 4000 employees. After applying for one of our advertised roles, Irodion immediately caught our attention. UK-based construction companies can sometimes be reluctant to offer contracts to applicants who have recently returned from long stints working overseas – even those with a work history as impressive as Irodion’s! Instead of being the stereotypical CV pushers that many assume of the recruitment industry, we delivered a personally tailored experience. Following a successful face-to-face interview, we placed Irodion on his first temporary contract within a matter of days. Needless to say, he impressed! We placed him on two further temporary contracts following great feedback, before finding him a permanent position at an internationally renowned construction company. Here, Irodion explains how Harvey Lawrence are #DoingTheJobProperly: “I highly recommend Harvey Lawrence. I have had a highly positive experience. After relocating back to the UK, they worked tirelessly to find me initially temporary positions, then a permanent position with a large international construction company. They were the only agency who truly worked to find me excellent positions. They contacted me regularly and updated me on the progress of my applications. Through all my dealings with them they demonstrated professionalism and an individualised service to help me enter the UK market again. Thank you, Harvey Lawrence!”