For the past 14 years, Carillion had been one of Flora-tec’s biggest customers. The work Flora-tec supplied accounted for around 40% of their business in grounds maintenance. That was until January 2018 when Carillion went into liquidation with liabilities of nearly £7 billion. “We could sort of see that it was coming but there wasn’t a lot we could do about it” explains Andy.
Having been a Vistage member for over six years, Andy turned almost immediately to his Vistage group members for support on what to do next. “The group is very diverse, it includes lawyers, accountants and others who have set up their own businesses so everyone had advice which was helpful. The group spent lots of time working through this issue with me, offering support and help in their own time outside of the regular meetings.”
In addition to the backing of his group, Andy also received extensive one-to-one support from his Chair, John Watkinson; “I was talking to Andy on almost a daily basis for a period of time discussing next steps and actions but it was Andy that did the work and ultimately, Andy that lead the turnaround of the business.”
Now six months on, Flora-tec has recovered well and continues to be profitable. Despite taking a substantial initial loss, the majority of Carillion contracts were retained and are now spread across multiple clients as opposed to just one. Andy continues to give regular updates to his Vistage group each month as the business enters a new phase of life.
For Andy, Vistage acts as a peer group, a friendship group, a consultancy and ultimately a sense check for difficult business decisions. “To have that group of people you see regularly and you can go back to outside of the business is fantastic and they do bring you back to reality sometimes.”
Despite it being a difficult year for the company, there were silver linings for Andy, noting how the staff rallied around, got stuck in, gained new business and as a result the business is now far more robust.
“In the darkest moments, you don’t think that you’re going to survive but we have a lot more confidence heading forward. We have a number of new clients and I can see the business growing into new areas”.