From best friends to business owners, Origin Workspace members, James McNicol and Andrew Oliver, will be taking ea Change into a new dawn as they announce their exciting management buyout news.
There was an instant connection when James and Andrew met back in 2005, and after a decade of working together and a friendship firmly formed, Andrew decided to take a career break in 2016.
But it wasn’t long before the duo reunited and joined forces to open a regional office for ea Change in the south west.
Set up in a two-man office in Clifton Triangle, the business went from strength to strength, with James the friendly front man heading up the sales capacity, and Andrew behind the scenes ensuring the nuts and bolts of the organisation were in good working order.
Soon after what they have coined ‘a Carlsberg start’, the successful pair were promoted from Regional Directors to Group Directors in 2018.
Now proud new owners of the company they helped build over the last five years, we caught up with James and Andrew to find out all about ea Change, why they love being part of the furniture at Origin Workspace, and what’s in store for the future…
Tell us about ea Change and the services you offer as a business
We’re certainly not your standard recruitment agency. We focus on business change and I.T. transformation. Clients come to us with a problem, and we provide a solution.
We offer a range of bespoke services including standard recruitment services – which could be permanent hire placements, executive search, or contractors in more short-term roles.
Then we manage larger statement work, where we deploy teams and project manage those teams to ensure they do what is required of them to meet deliverables set out by the client.
Recruitment is evolving. Since the pandemic we’ve rolled out video screening. A CV doesn’t bring the character of a person to life, like a video does. All our clients are asking for this now as it massively reduces the time spent at first stage screening.
A lot of our clients are long standing because we are small and agile enough to tailor to their needs.
And, ea Futures looks interesting. Can you tell us more…
We get the latest, brightest graduates from universities and employ them on a full-time basis. They become part of the ea family and get deployed on site with a client on a 12- or 24-month contract to be a project analyst.
We work with the client to tailor their learning and we take them on a two-year journey. At the end, we give them to the client. We don’t charge a fee for handing them over. We take immense pride in this element of our business.
Choosing Origin Workspace
As the business grew, a new office was required. On the hunt for a bustling Bristol location with some green space a stone’s throw away, they made a new home for ea Change at Origin Workspace.
Joining back in 2018 when the building was still under construction, James and Andrew saw 40 Berkeley Square transform into an incredible office space with a thriving community.
And, as ea Change continued to flourish, they moved into an even larger private office within the space.
What we love is the ethos of Origin Workspace. We love the way we are made to feel part of the family. Rob and the team here have been brilliant and have bent over backwards for us.
We want to grow in here. We see the value of having a nice office. People want to come and work here because it’s such a great environment to be in, and a fantastic community to be a part of.
Any clients we bring here are blown away by the space and the amazing roof terrace. And it’s the best gym I have ever been to in an office!
The last 12 months
With 17 years of industry experience under their belts, including working through the financial crash in 2012, the last 12 months have presented an incredibly complex set of challenges.
With new tax legislation on contractors, Brexit, and a global pandemic added to the mix, it warrants the question; why have you bought a business during the biggest financial crash in over 100 years?
When conversations with the owners of 23 years started to evolve around a possible MBO, we were keen. If we could survive the perfect storm and still be profitable after the three biggest things to impact our industry, what could we do in a good market?
So, we got the wheels in motion, strapped ourselves in and now, we own a company!
And, even though the sleepless nights are kicking in, and owning the business ultimately changes how you feel, we have always believed in the ea Change brand and have always cared about the people we work with.
Although there will be some bumps along the way, we feel the market will pick up – it can’t continue to decline. We are ready to enter a new period of growth at the forefront of the business.
With ambitious five-year growth plans in place, the new owners are under no illusion that challenging times still lie ahead, but they will continue to work hard and build on the success of the well-established ea Change brand.
We don’t just want to run a normal recruitment business, that’s not what we are about. We want to be current, constantly reinventing what we do, constantly minimising clients time to hire, to make everyone’s journey as good as it can possibly be.
Being out of work is stressful. Looking for a job is stressful. Hiring is stressful. We want to make that journey as seamless as possible for everyone involved; client, candidate, and us, so everybody involved benefits.
We are excited about the future and although 2023 will mark 25 years of ea Change, we’ve entered a new era, so in two years we’ll celebrate our second birthday of the new dawn!
Wishing them both all the success for 2021 and beyond as they build their business and find time to celebrate their friendship when James will take on the role of best man at Andrew’s wedding later this year.