Strong values and a people-focused culture power growth
07th December 2020
Today, we talk to Total Resources managing director Les Thompson alongside Gillian Chinhengo, a partner in the employment team at Ward Hadaway.
In the series ‘Inspiring Growth’ Graeme Whitfield of The Journal talks to those companies leading the way in the region.
“Always strive to be the best you can. Provide the best product you can and the best service you can,” says Les Thompson, managing director, Total Resources. “That’s, without doubt, the secret to Total Resources success.”
And it’s clear that this strategy has paid off. Featuring in the North East Fastest 50 three years in a row, Total Resources takes third place in the small business category this year, following last year’s runner up position. In 2018, the firm was named the winner of the fastest growing small business of the year.
“To take yet another podium position really is testament to the great team we have across our national network of depots,” continues Thompson. “Like any business we’ve not been immune to the virus, working through periods of staff shortages because of sickness and self-isolation at a time where the level of work has increased but because of our dedicated, close knit and hardworking team we’re powering through.”
With a 155-strong workforce and seven depots across the UK, Total Resources is going from strength-to-strength. The company is headquartered in Boldon, South Tyneside, boasting a 10,000sqft warehouse alongside two floors of offices for business services and support staff.
In the next year, Total Resources will add a further three depots and take on more people. Huge success from humble beginnings when Thompson worked out of his garage in South Shields, with his driveway home to two sets of temporary trailer traffic light units in between jobs.
And modest and unassuming is what defines Thompson who, to this day, will continue to put on a hard hat and head out to sites, visit customers and check in on his workforce to ensure they’re ok and managing well.
“Every member of our team does their job with a smile on their face which is really important,” explains Thompson. “They like what they do, and they do it well and our customers can see that. As the managing director I can easily stay in the office all day but there’s three things I always keep in my car – hard hats, biscuits and pens. The hard hats are for when I call into a site and visit the staff, the biscuits so I can pop in and see customers when I am passing and check that they’re happy with the job in hand, and the pens are there so I can write down any feedback or concerns and ensure they are acted on immediately.”
The business was established by Thompson five years ago and following an £8 million investment from Mercia Fund Managers last year, it has continued to grow at a rapid rate, creating jobs along the way. It prides itself on a strong culture, where work ethic, great skills and a collaborative approach creates the foundations of a firm breaking its start-up mould and transitioning to a medium sized business – this year’s projected turnover stands at £13 million.
Gillian Chinhengo explains why Total Resources has the kind of qualities that create a successful business, evolving from a one-man start up to a national, UK-wide operator.
“Total Resources has done phenomenally well, demonstrating just how important a strong, people-focused culture is in creating a happy, healthy and productive workforce. By ensuring its people hold the same shared values and putting this ethos at the heart of everything they do, the company has reaped rewards. It’s great to see Total Resources feature for a third consecutive year – Les and his team provide such great inspiration for people-centred organisations and their success.”
Les concludes; “My dad always told me something that’s stuck with me since I was little. And it’s something I hear myself saying to others when giving them advice as I know how exciting, but also daunting, it is to build your business, create your dream and achieve the goals you want.
“Whenever the going got tough, Thompson senior would always say to me, ‘Son, you’ll get out of it what you put into it’ and he’s 100% right. If you work hard, put in the hours and do your homework, you will succeed.”
A version of this article originally appeared in The Journal on 7th December 2020.