Old boy network helps FFDR secure a top award

by Scott Douglas

Friday, February 27th, 2004

A booming young Scots firm is enjoying rapid business success after finding out that when it comes to recruitment, the old ones are the best.

FFDR, Scotland’s fastest growing all trades contractors company, discovered out that by hooking up to the old boy network it has been able to connect to a rich pool of dedicated, talented and skilled workers.

And the result has been an enthusiastic and committed workforce, increased turnover, year-on-year growth – and an award as Scotland’s best small business.

FFDR, which specialises in working on behalf of insurance companies to salvage damaged homes and businesses across east central Scotland, has an ongoing recruitment policy.

PR success for a fast-growing company

The company, based in Lochgelly, Fife, currently has 60 employees made up mainly of tradesmen, but it hopes to recruit 20 more over the next three months to cope with increased business.

Ronnie Klos, the sole director of FFDR, always believed that a vital factor in the company’s development would be its ability to attract and retain the highest-quality staff.

But putting that into practice was never going to be easy given the unfortunate reputation acquired by the building industry by the small core of rogue builders.

What Ronnie Klos has done is defy the usual industry practice of targeting younger, cheaper workers and instead actively recruit many older staff, including a number close to retirement age, recognising their huge reservoir of skills and commitment to quality.

All staff earn the same hourly rate, set at the top of the scale, they are provided with smart uniforms, company vehicles which are regularly serviced and replaced every three years and the most up-to-date tools available.

Positve media coverage

The result has seen the development of a workforce in which it is instilled that every worker is as valuable as the next – and knows it.  This philosophy has seen FFDR lose less than one per cent of working days to illness and the achievement of coveted Investors in People status in 2001.

Ronnie said: “What we have created is a workforce of solid, dependable and experienced people who are not only fully aware of the FFDR’s business goals – they actually help set the high standards which the firm aspires to.

I’ve no doubt that one of the main reasons for this is the fact that a significant portion of the workforce are older workers who have a strong work ethic and a devotion to always do the best job they can.”

Ronnie’s pursuit of “grey workers” also makes for sound business sense as he looks to grow the company in the future.

It estimated that by 2006, the construction industry could be short of 2400 plumbers, electricians, roofers, carpenters, painters and other trades. And the future could be even bleaker as apprenticeships have fallen by the wayside as more young people are taking on degree courses, rather then trades.

Ronnie said: “Skilled tradesmen are more valuable to the Scottish economy than untrained graduates emerging from university with similar, general degrees. Today’s career culture sees many school leavers forced down the route of studying for a degree when they are actually more vocationally than academically suited. This surely has to change.

“But in the meantime, I am happy to keep relying on my old boy network which has more that stood me in good stead.”

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