Concrete conversation with Simon Girling


Headshot of Simon Girling Director of Girling Jones
Simon Girling Director of Girling Jones

We had the pleasure of interviewing Simon Girling, director of Girling Jones Ltd based in Exeter.

Girling Jones is a South West based Construction, Engineering and Property recruitment agency. Founded in April 2011 by Simon the company has grown to be the largest and most popular provider of technical staff to the construction and engineering industry in the South West. Read on to find out what we talked about…


IM What is your role within Girling Jones (the company)?
SG I’m the director.
IM Why did you decide to start-up your own recruitment company?
SG I worked in London for 11 years and my wife and I decided we wanted to move to Exeter so I had the choice to either try to work remotely or set up my own recruitment company.
IM How did you set up your recruitment company and did you have any investment?
SG I set up the company with a business partner who gave me a leg up.
IM How long was it before you made your first hire?
SG I made my first hire in June 2011, 3 months after setting up the company.
IM And what is your current headcount?
SG I have 20 staff across three teams with three managers and an office manager.
IM What was it like when you first set up the company?
SG It was just me recruiting in a small serviced office shared with a number of other businesses, I had no database only a pad and pen, in a new area with a smaller pond to fish in so finding staff was difficult as well as attracting them.
IM How did you manage to overcome the starting up challenges?
SG I had very specific and detailed plans and objectives, I had fully researched my competition, I think having worked in London was an advantage.
IM What do you think will be some of the biggest challenged in the construction recruitment industry in the next five years?
SG Skills shortage will definitely be a challenged as well as Brexit.
IM What would you say is the most annoying part of your job?
SG Nothing! There are things I find tedious but I have a nice balance.
IM How do you keep your staff motivated?
SG Keeping staff engaged is a key factor for me, we offer our staff a modern place to work overlooking the water. Unlimited fruit baskets, an office micro gym, dress down Fridays and around 40% of our staff work Flexitime. In addition, we have the wheel of wellbeing where we get the staff to choose 6 of the most important things in their life, grade them out of 10 so this could be health, family or something similar. Each quarter we put things in place to improve these for the staff, for example, we paid for someone to take up Spanish lessons and paid towards an Alan Carr give up smoking course. It’s so important to keep staff motivated and we found that their billings increased the happier they were at work that’s why our staff turnover is so low at 7%.
IM If you could give any tips to a new construction recruitment agency what would they be?
SG Keep going. It’s all about perseverance, everything takes longer than you expect and you won’t make as much money as you target but if you’re good and keep going you’ll do just fine.


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