Written on the 23 November 2009
WHEN Andrew Northcott started Labour Solutions Australia he was 21 with just $800 in the bank, but five years later he now employs 400 staff and expects rapid growth this year.
“I started to contract myself out and get a few mates to work with me on landscaping jobs — it was really just to make a few dollars while I was at uni but priorities quickly changed from uni to the business,” says the former property economics student.
“Then we picked up OneSteel Recycling, which was Smorgon Steel back then and that allowed us to grow the business from there, as we had the credentials to deal with higher end clients.”
Since then the business has grown to record $5 million in revenue last financial year and he expects $32 million this year, with ‘record week after record week’ in his labour supply business.
“To put it into perspective the amount of people we’re organising jobs for is increasing by 30 to 50 per week,” he says.
“We’re focused on food processing and manufacturing, construction and industry, and horticulture. We have some clients who have signed over their entire workforce. “Obviously when you look at how the economy is at the moment it makes sense to outsource employment liability.”
Northcott cites a level of naivety when he started out as a young entrepreneur but it actually worked to his advantage.
“There was a level of naivety but I think that was a strength for the business because you probably don’t worry about all the issues that could pop up and you can just drive the business forward,” he says.
“Any business will flap around in the breeze until it finds its own market – we had good strategic thought and plans in place and in the end we found our place.
But what makes a great entrepreneur?
“I think having an absolute drive to achieve your goals and chasing them at 100 miles an hour and then having the strength behind the business because at each stage of growth it changes quite a lot.
“It went from being just me to a team of account managers, consultants and other staff and we’ve ensured that at each level of growth we get the best return on our investment, whether it be through human capital, IT or technology.”
He expects to hire up to 200 new staff this financial year.
Northcott has never been content to rest on the status quo and after seeing opportunities in HR franchising he set up LSA Recruitment in November last year.
“It’s really exciting. I’ve always had an interest in franchising and we’ve got something that is totally new to the industry, so there’s really a lot of momentum with high level executive recruiters, we’ve got a lot in specialised sectors and they’re really top leaders,” he says.
“Franchisees run their business as they see fit and we provide them with IT software and back office support – we sort out payrolls and all of that which leaves them at the front end, which is what they do best anyway.”
LSA Recruitment has 12 franchisees but Northcott has his sights set on 150 in the next three years.
With virtually no overheads it only costs $8500 for an HR professional to become a franchisee and Northcott is positive for the market in the future.
“We’re certainly seeing signs that the recruitment market is improving. 12 months ago the recruitment industry was in a rough patch and I certainly seeing us exiting that at the moment.”