To celebrate the 30th year anniversary of Abacus we interviewed our Chairman Dennis Fuller about how Abacus began and how it has evolved over the years.
How did Abacus begin?
Abacus began in 1991 in the middle of a recession. Having industry knowledge of the Distribution sector after being an HGV 2 Driver myself for many years, I recognised there was an industry shortage for Drivers, so started Abacus and bought an Arctic and Trailor and would train drivers on the condition that they would work for me for 3 months after the training had been completed, I dubbed this our ‘Earn as you Learn’ scheme. Many stayed on and worked for Abacus long terms.
What is the ethos behind Abacus and has it changed at all over the last 30 years?
Our main ethos was, and still remains, always tell the truth. If a client or worker had an issue, find out what the problem is, fix that problem and put measures in place to make sure it doesn’t happen again. Always be honest, upfront, and tell the truth.
What has been the biggest challenge in the last 30 years?
Legislation. In the early days' agencies were very badly regulated, anyone could open an agency from their front room and I do feel that staff were open to exploitation. Now, the industry is over-regulated, it is a minefield to keep current and up to date with the ever-changing rules and regulations, but we are lucky at Abacus that we have a crackpot team of highly experienced and knowledgeable business professionals who ensure that compliance is at the forefront of every business activity.
What has been the biggest success?
Winning blue-chip contracts such as Harrods. We were also listed as one of the top 1000 companies to Inspire Britain in the 2016 London Stock exchange.
What has been the biggest change you have seen in recruitment over 30 years?
Legislation and Technology. Innovation in technology has made a vast improvement on productivity and whilst needed to ensure key areas such as compliance is maintained, I do believe that it comes at a cost, I feel that the relationship suffers as people can be prone to hiding behind a keyboard or telephone, I much prefer to meet people or talk on the telephone, I feel that not only does this bolster and develop relationships, if there are issues, things can be dealt with quickly.
What advice would you give to anyone starting a business and how they can keep it relevant over time?
I would say, identify what you are good at, work hard to make yourself better at it, and surround yourself with good people with the same ethos. You cant get bigger by staying the same size!
What is your proudest moment with Abacus?
There have been so many. Reaching 30 years of trading through two recessions and a global pandemic. Expanding our branch network and I have ambitions to reach further. Our Staff Retention, particularly within our Senior Management Team (over 300 years combined or 20 years on average). That the old ethos of tell the truth still works and is valued.