Less than a year after starting the Captured programme, Martin Sawyer has accelerated his business towards its next major stage of growth after being accepted for the Scaleup North East programme.
Martin, an accountant with a background in the corporate finance world, started his business, Laser-Ex Office Products, in 2005, and the company steadily grew, diversifying from laser toner cartridge remanufacturing and laser printer supply, into a one-stop shop for everything for the office environment. It now employs eight staff at its Newburn headquarters in Newcastle and is currently recruiting to add to its sales team.
Despite enjoying this ongoing success, Martin, who came across the Captured programme reading a local business story online, was finding it difficult to find time to work on growing the business further.
He explained: “When you’re running a small organisation, more falls on your shoulders. There’s an awful lot to do, and not always a lot of resource available.
“You can’t do it all, so the opportunity to get out of the office and spend some time focusing on the business rather than working in it is what attracted me to Captured, as well as the fact you get teamed up with someone from a larger organisation, so can benefit from their knowledge and experience.”
Having embarked on the programme in early summer 2018, Martin was matched with Craig Townsend, SRM Business Partner at Virgin Money, responsible for supporting Supplier Relationship Managers (SRMs) throughout the bank who collectively manage the relationship with over 1200 suppliers.
He said: “Craig was a good match for me as he was very good at spotting the issues. He spent a lot of time listening and understanding. He came up with some good points, either reinforcing my views or challenging them and suggesting change, but always supportively.”
Together, Craig and Martin identified the factors Laser-Ex needed to consider to achieve the significant growth Martin wants to achieve over the next two years.
Martin added: “We went right back to basics, starting with the company’s value proposition, and at the end of each session, we had a plan and objectives set for the next session. It’s a very efficient programme with pre-set time constraints, and that meant you were focused to achieve more.
“I think Captured helped me to review the key building blocks – finance, systems, and people – to let me see what was really working, and what wasn’t.”
Martin, along with wife and business partner Moira, feels Captured was a vital stepping stone to being accepted on to the two-year Scaleup North East scheme. His taking part helped them demonstrate the potential of Laser-Ex to achieve significant growth within two years.
Martin said: “You have to show that you have a growth mindset. Captured helped us lay the foundations and identify our real priorities, but our next step is to look at specific areas of focus, such as digital marketing, in detail.”
Summing up his views about Captured, Martin said taking part had been both enlightening and reassuring.
He said: “You find that everybody is experiencing similar issues, trials and tribulations, no matter what field their business is in, how big it is or what stage of operation.”
For further information about Martin’s company Laser-ex visit www.laser-ex.co.uk
For further information on Newcastle University Business School’s Captured programme visit ncl.ac.uk/business-school/captured.