Concrete Conversation with Darren Gray

Our team had the pleasure of interviewing Darren Gray. Director of Parkinson Gray Associates.

Parkinson Gray Associates is a boutique recruitment agency in West Yorkshire and also the West Midlands, specialising in two key sectors – The built environment and the provision of construction Recruiters to a small group of trusted Clients.

IM How did you start Parkinson Gray Associates?
DG Let me give you a bit of my career history Isabel. So, I grew up in the corporate world in construction recruitment, working for Eden Brown, AndersElite, Roevin. And that’s where I cut my teeth. Me and my business partner decided to set up on our own, we had both been permanent recruiters for a very long time so we got into positions of management. They complimented each other so we set up our own business. So, what we have is Parkinson Gray Associates we own 50:50 between the two of us and we also have a stake in a business of an ex-colleague of ours. So, its two people cracking on, on the phones.
IM And when you both went on your own did you have a pipeline?
DG No as you’ll know about restricted covenants. It was quite severe for me because I was a Branch Manager at Roevin at the time I left, so It stops you as a manager recruiting in the space you’re in and recruiting anyone in the space of those you were responsible for. Which was pretty much the whole of the construction industry, meant I couldn’t do anything really!
IM That must have been a big challenge for you setting up the company.
DG It was a very serious challenge. Every recruiter should that it very seriously, many companies are choosing to enact their restricted covenants and enforce them. So, it can be a very dangerous time, if you are stepping out by yourself, you are personally liable for that.
IM So, you would recommend all recruiters check before stepping out on their own about their restricted covenants?
DG Yes, any recruiter should. No question about it. There is a lessez faire attitude with many consultants about their restricted covenants and I’ve been on the other side of it as a manager enacting a restricted covenant again someone who has left. So, companies do take it very seriously. 10, 15 years ago there was a different attitude as there were less people leaving and starting on their own. When I left Roevin I did some Rec to Rec work for about six months while I had my restricted covenant just for that period of time. I knew a lot of recruiters at that time so it was fairly straightforward. But time ticked away and then I could come back into the market I had been doing previous work in.
IM Must have been very hard as you specialised in a recruitment industry. Would you also recommend others to specialise in their recruitment?
DG Absolutely. Specialising doesn’t just relate to recruitment but business in general. With specific reference to recruitment through a director, I once work for said something that struck a chord with me “if you come up against a generalist, a specialist will win, every single time”. If you cover the whole of the construction industry or specialist geographically and remit wise you’ll do really well. It’s all about developing long-term relationships within the market and having a reputation, you can’t have a reputation a huge geographical area. But you can if you narrow some parameters down. So, I would say narrow it down to three parameters, remit, geography and seniority.
IM Do you think some newer companies are being more generalist because they are worried about the skills shortage?
DG A recruiter shouldn’t just set up a business without experience. You set yourself up for failure. You should become well known within a market and recruitment sector then you have the option and set up your own business. Predominantly if you’re a permanent recruiter, if you’re freelance you have to produce finance as well which created a complexity. So, I would say to someone that you already know if it’s going to be successful, I would never recommend someone to just go and set up a business in recruitment if they aren’t already embedded in that space.
IM Have you seen any impacts of Brexit within your company?
DG Yes it’s all anecdotal evidence but this is just my opinion I mean I’m very close to the tree so its hard to see the woods as they say, but it’s my humble opinion that we have gone through a decade of recession in the first instance and we were just coming out the back of that when Brexit occurred, confidence was starting to return and now confidence has been massively affected as a result of Brexit. In construction tenders are taking longer to go through investment, projects are out there they haven’t been cancelled but have been consistently put back which has a knock-on effect. People aren’t investing as regularly as they were doing before that.



And in the next five years what is your opinion of how the industry will look?
DG I don’t know any more than anyone else does, which isn’t a great deal but this is opinion driven if we leave Brexit without a deal that will be detrimental to the economy. And anything that is detrimental to the economy at large will have a direct effect on the construction industry because it is one of the biggest investments companies make. If we can get a watered-down version of Brexit then that will be massively helpful. The most important this is going to be to give companies and investors a sense of where we are with it. Businesses and investors don’t like uncertainty. So, at the moment it’s difficult to say it could go either way.


To find out more about Parkinson Gray Associates visit their website:

To read more Concrete conversations click here

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *