If we look back to just over three years ago, Air Marketing Group as we know it today was still merely an idea, a business plan being written. When we were then up and running, it was out of a boardroom in someone else’s office, with three members of staff who were working tirelessly to secure us enough clients that would allow us to get to an office of our own.
I can remember walking down the street trying to have a phone conversation with prospects in-between other prospect meetings, battling to hear them over the sound of the wind and the traffic… Things have definitely changed now! It was an exciting time, definitely a stressful one, we didn’t really know what lay ahead of us and certainly didn’t predict the rapid growth that we would see in the coming year. In 2016, the vision was to employ 100 staff in 5 years, we’re 3 years in and already employing 60+ people, have moved offices three times and have ambitious plans for further growth in the coming year.
That’s not to say that the past three years have been without their challenges and setbacks. With rapid growth came a need to quickly hire staff and, to our frustration, that sometimes came at the cost of our team culture. In looking at our on-boarding of staff, we also looked to staff retention. As part of this growth journey, on a few occasions, we’ve acknowledged that the structures we had in place did not aid the size of company that we were becoming and that they didn’t allow for our driven team to progress as we would like them to. Since moving into offices of our own we have restructured four times to ensure that we are happy with the processes we have in place – this includes implementing a new Quality Assurance system and hiring an in-house Learning and Development team.
I don’t think that it is a weakness to look back and dwell on the challenges, quite the opposite. We grow from the hurdles that are placed in front of us and from the mistakes that we make along the way. They only make us stronger as a team and as a business. If we don’t look to them to better ourselves moving forwards then we are not being honest with ourselves.
If there is one thing that starting Air has taught me, it’s that it is important to have a strong team behind you. From day one, Air have sought to employ those who are driven, talented and can bring something different to the company – from Keryn and his Paralympic accolades to Verity, who brought marketing expertise and assisted the set up and management of our sister company, Roots to Market, and Marco, who rose to Client Services Director at just 24. It’s been a real privilege to watch Team Air grow with like-minded people who want to push the business forward. Having an inclusive and supportive team culture is vital to me and at any opportunity I show gratitude, from running weekly team meetings and incentives to nurturing our early hires and watching them rise through the ranks to management roles – allowing them to inspire new starters and those already wanting to develop their careers.
Looking to the future, I am excited to see where we go next. So far this year, we have already rolled out a flexible workers hiring campaign, launched our Partner Programme (we’ve already partnered with three local businesses) and won the Exeter Living Business Services Award.
I’m so proud of how far we have come in such a small period of time. My team continue to surprise and amaze me with their talents and competency – for the large part of the beginning of the year I was out of the office for the birth of my second child and the team still managed to secure an Ad Hoc contract with a major household name. With a team that are capable of such amazing successes, who knows where we will be in the next three years?
Owen Richards, Managing Director