Tony Parker and Christopher Shaw started P.S. Computer Services Limited in 1988 and have since turned it into a multi million I.T recruitment and I.T managed services business.
This month’s ‘Inspired Client’ is P.S. Computer Services which is a multi-million IT recruitment and managed IT solutions provider with a very strong presence in the UK.
We caught up with the two founders of P.S. Computer Services to find out more about their success in business so far. Here’s what Christopher and Tony had to say:
How did the idea for P.S. Computer Services come about?
Tony & Christopher both worked for an IT recruitment company in the 1980's and to this day they remain eternally grateful for the introduction it gave them to the industry. Prior to this Tony had worked for a large corporate (Rank Xerox) and Christopher had recently qualified as a junior computer programmer following a government sponsored IT diploma. When he joined the recruitment company he didn't actually understand what they did or why he was being hired, thinking he was going to follow a technical IT career. However, he soon realised that he was working for a business that was riding on the coat tails of a global revolution and both he and Tony had several successful and very enjoyable years with the company.
There came a time when Tony and Chris, who by this time had become good friends, decided that there were a number of areas in which they felt that the IT recruitment business could be improved and so founded their own business, P.S. Computer Services Ltd, on a handshake in 1988.
The early days were horrendous. There was no existing business, the office was a dining room in Tony's house, and Chris and Tony shared a very old maroon coloured Volkswagon Astra car with 90,000 miles on the clock. Whoever had it for client visits had to park it out of sight of the client's office, and it was hit and miss if it started again after the meeting!
And the hours! They worked from 9am to 10pm, Monday to Friday, and on most weekends. That lasted for two years until there was some business on the books when it became possible to employ an extra person to help out. During that first year Tony only took one day's holiday, and that was because his daughter demanded that she have him for just one day of her summer break! He was still back at his desk at 8pm that evening though.
Some 27 years later, P.S. Computer Services employs 25 permanent staff from their two offices in Southampton, with around 250 IT Consultants engaged on client sites around the country at any one time. Chris and Tony are still involved on a day-to-day basis, although whenever he can Chris enjoys the peace and tranquility of his villa in rural southern Spain, and Tony has assembled a collector's dream of memorabilia at his home (some would call it a museum) on the outskirts of the city.
How do you find people to bring into your business that truly care about the business the way you do?
With great difficulty is the immediate answer that comes to mind. There was a time in the early years of P.S. when the business expanded rapidly, and the company moved in to new premises and hired a lot of new staff, including management. It just didn't work. You need exceptional human beings who will show the same dedication and commitment as the owners who have invested so much time and effort into growing the business. Chris and Tony were self-motivated and aimed high, and it was an absolute culture shock when the truth dawned that not everybody shared the same values.
The business was forced to retrench back to Tony's house, and after rebuilding the reputation of the company and making it profitable again, they decided that it had become one of the most valuable lessons they were ever going to get in business. A much more controlled expansion programme followed, and Chris and Tony vowed to only hire the very best people they could possibly find. Mistakes can still occasionally get made, but the difference now is that anyone who doesn't share the founding values of the company tends to stand out a mile and leaves very quickly.
One of the most successful routes to hiring quality members of staff has been through personal referrals as well as simply approaching people who have offered the business outstanding levels of services in their dealings with P.S. Computer Services.
What has been your most satisfying moment in business?
In a history covering three decades, there have been many, many proud moments. The award of their Investors in People certification in 2011 was definitely a time to reflect on the quality of staff who work with P.S and the environment they have created at the company. They know the importance of proper management, proper staff welfare and training, and making the working environment a pleasant place to be. However, IIP is just a stage, you don't achieve it forever and it needs constant refinement and improvement to have the certification renewed, something they were again very proud to achieve in 2014.
What’s next for P.S. Computer Services?
In addition to the provision of Permanent IT Staff Recruitment and Contract IT Resources, P.S. Computer Services have recently formalised their IT Services & Solutions business model.
In recent years several clients had asked P.S. to deliver particular IT projects, rather than simply providing people. It meant that they were not only staffing up a project, but were also being measured against KPI's and SLA's, and taking responsibility for the overall delivery. Each time they received outstanding feedback, and it's been a natural next step for the business to start offering this model as a standalone service. In true entrepreneurial fashion, Chris decided this was his calling, and working closely with Simon, the Technical Managing Director, they began marketing IT Services & Solutions to new and existing clients. And it's been fantastic. Right from day one they had interest from existing customers, and as the word spreads throughout their network, more and more opportunities are being secured. It's a bit like the early days again, only this time the energy and enthusiasm isn't quite as naive and they are growing the new pillar of P.S in a controlled and sustainable fashion.
If you had to pass on one key tip to our clients for their business, what would it be?
Surround yourself with experts in their fields, whether it's staff or service providers, be second to absolutely no-one, and never ever, ever give up....ever. OK, so that's three things....we ALWAYS try to exceed expectations!