Our UK-based client, a boutique market research agency specialising in the medical device sector, has been working with Stuart for two years. Working across six continents, the company delivers its services to 39 countries and numerous global medical device and pharmaceutical brands.
Following a management buy-out, our client had responsibility for onerous financial targets over a five-year period, whilst also building a brand in an increasingly competitive global market. Our focus was on managing the requirements of the MBO, whilst developing a leadership team, increasing profits, identifying strategic opportunities and enabling growth plans.
The company’s CEO explains: “The period following the MBO was incredibly challenging, and will continue to challenge the business for a number of years due to its size and restrictions. When you consider an initial payment of over half a million pounds followed by significant quarterly payments, even when the business is doing well, it’s not easy to invest in growth and business development. At one stage, two-thirds of our profit came from one client, and that concerned me too. It becomes easy to cut margins to win contracts but that wasn’t a direction I wanted the business to take when I knew we could lead the market based on the quality of our work and not cost. I knew I needed support and to invest in working with someone who could add value to the business and help to facilitate change.”
The challenges: “At the time of the MBO, the business was a lonely place. There were so many challenges, it was difficult to know where to start or what to focus on first, given that I had an incredibly tough workload already.
One of the first things Stuart taught me that was significant was how to add value to the business. He made me realise that there were crucial processes we needed to put in place that would evidence value to someone from the outside.
Part of the process was reviewing what we had already achieved, the potential within the business, and what we needed to grow and evolve. Stuart encouraged me to realise how capable and mature the team are, to develop their strengths and recruit people who would fit in with the culture and add value. The team has developed both in numbers and personal growth because of that and have all taken a collaborative approach to new methods and processes that have transformed the business.
The future: Our vision has been to develop the business and grow sustainably throughout the five-year MBO period while pre-empting future challenges. For instance, things like stem cell research means that some of the devices we work on may be obsolete in coming years, but there may be new markets opening up in lesser developed countries that we need to be, and are, exploring now.”
Then and now: “The biggest benefit to working with Stuart is effectively having an additional director with significant experience who can see challenges from an objective standpoint and help address those challenges.
We are more focused and in much better shape than we were before and I believe that without Stuart there probably wouldn’t be a business. Stuart has helped me to appreciate the strength of my position and I think of him as a business partner. He’s no nonsense, which can be hard at times, but it’s necessary and the results are tangible.”