HAVING been in the regional investment capital business for more years than it would be polite of you to remind me, thank you very much, I’ve seen my fair share of economic booms and busts come and go.
Each boom had its individual causes and characteristics, while the circumstances that have turned them into busts have been equally distinct.
Despite the gloom that has prevailed during each of the latter periods, and which remains widely Pestonlent – sorry, prevalent – today, a common theme of recent economic history has been that many companies continued to do very well during the hard times.
“It’s hard work, but we’re doing well” is a refrain I hear regularly from many of the senior business people I meet, and it encourages me to believe that there’s good reason to be positive about the future of the regional economy.
Take a company like Koru Property Services, set up by two directors that had previously been regional managers for a national construction company, and in which NEL invested twice in the mid-2000s.
Not only has Koru survived the biggest downturn in the history of the construction industry, it thrived by taking a planned, strategic approach to the development of its business.
This included expanding the geographical area it covers from its native North East to include Scotland and Yorkshire, and launching a minor works division to target the growing number of public sector institutions which manage their own budgets.
Between 2006 and 2011, when we completed our exit from the firm, Koru grew its workforce from five to 50, and built annual turnover up to around £9m.
It’s easy to focus on bad news, but it shouldn’t disguise the fact that for companies with the right product or service to sell, the right business plan to support it and the right team to drive its execution, there’s every opportunity to succeed.
Barrie Hensby, chief executive of Newcastle-based NEL Fund Managers