Concrete conversation with Martyn Makinson

We had the delight of interviewing Martyn Makinson, Director of Ionic and FourPointZero.

Ionic are recruitment specialists in Construction, Social Housing and Maintenance

FourPointZero are industry 4.0 specialist recruiters and bring together the brightest minds with the best companies who are looking to gain maximum value from the fourth industrial revolution

IM What is your role within the company?
MM I’m the Director of Ionic and have been for the past eight years. I’m also the MD of FourPointZero that does IT and Engineering.
IM Did you set up both companies on your own?
MM Yes, I did. I co-founded another recruitment business in 2003 called Bromak with my ex-business partner. I left the business in 2010 to start Ionic. So, there are no backers or investors.
IM In terms of your hierarchy structure do you have any managers that support you?
MM We have a team leader/management structure in place. The plan is to move some of those team leaders into full blown managers. So, we will then have divisional heads for our various divisions. We eventually want to have an operational manager above everyone and then divisional managers who will then look after the three divisions we cover
IM What is your weekly contractor headcount?
MM It’s coming up to 180-200.
IM What’s the current headcount within your company?

MM We have 22, which is a mixture of team leaders and consultants.
IM What were some of the first challenges you had when you set up the company?
MM I think any business faces challenges. When I set up the company in 2010 we were in the middle of recession, where a lot of companies were folding at the time it was a case of which strategic markets to be going after.
IM Would you recommend specialising in a specific industry within the recruitment sector?
MM 100%. That’s why we started FourPointZero which focuses on recruitment for all aspects of the industry. Even now there is some overlap with some of the construction companies, but we wanted to completely separate the two companies so it was a different brand and organisation, rather than a one size fits all approach. I think the clients and candidates seem to be more receptive if you tell them you’re a specialist in your field.
IM And with some of the big topics such as Brexit and the Skills shortage what are your thoughts on the next five years for the industry?
MM I think the talk about a slowdown because of Brexit is slightly overhyped. When I first started the business eight years ago there was a lot of negative press at the time about the economy being in a terrible state, which it was. But the seeds of recovery were there, it was just the fact the media were talking it down so people lost  confidence to make decisions on starting projects and recruiting people. It was only until “Help to buy” came into play that it kickstarted the market. I think if we aren’t careful at the moment we can talk ourselves into recession. Fundamentally speaking, we’ve taken the approach of looking at what is actually happening  ‘in front of us’ rather than reading the press. All of the clients we are working with are very busy, making both contract and permanent hires. So you have to take the media very much on face value.
MM What were the first signs that helped you make the decision to set up FourPointZero?
  I conducted a large amount of research about the direction the construction sector was taking and what’s projected to be happening in the next 5-10 years and digital transformation is a massive focus for the sector and industry as a whole.   While researching, I read about industry 4.0 and the major opportunity it brings to the industrial sector; hence, the idea for a recruitment business focusing on industry 4.0 agenda was formed.   Once we launched, we quickly established that many companies in construction weren’t ready to embrace digital transformation; which is largely due to the required spend for R&D that companies weren’t prepared to commit towards.   We’ve since moved our focus to AR/VR, Robotics, Automation and artificial intelligence across industry.   I think that the Construction will eventually transform, but it’s at last 4-5 years away from commencing. We’re in a great position to capitalise, once it all does commence!  
IM What are the top tips to scale a recruitment business?
MM Use empathy as much as you can so that you understand and get to know your team, not just the numbers. Pick a market and focus on it. Monitor your performance on a regular basis and quickly action any areas for improvement
IM It’s been great to speak with you Martyn, thank you for giving up some of your time.
MM No problem Isabel, take care.

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