Communicate Business Solutions Ltd: Gareth Owen

Communicate Business Solutions Ltd: Gareth Owen

Gareth Owen, whose background is in financial management has recently joined Communicate Business Solutions Ltd (CBSL) as business development manager. For almost two decades, this agile retail company has successfully occupied various positions in the market. Gareth gave us an overview of how the family-run business operates right now:

“Our sales are predominantly in the newspaper industry so we work very closely with the large newspaper groups, and the NFRN (National Federation of Retail Newsagents) helping them to acquire new customers for their home delivery services. We do that in two ways. We operate a telesales unit and we also have a team of door-to-door canvasses. So we do face-to-face and telephone sales. We increase readership for newspapers, whether they are local publications or nationals on specific promotional sales drives.”

Aside from the sales work, CBSL also has a telecoms arm (Triangle Telecoms) and operates as an internet provider in its own right. The business, which is based in Clevedon, ten miles from Bristol, has experience of taking on apprentices. In fact, this experience has been so positive that Gareth and his team have decided to create an on-site academy dedicated to Apprenticeships:

“We’ve just had two apprentices who followed their programmes with us. They’ve both been very, very successful. Megan joined us as an administrator and has moved on to a role with a local travel agent. Jamie, who did a more technical programme, is staying with us in a role for Triangle Telecom. They were part of our preparation for initiating the academy.”

Gareth says the drive behind establishing the academy was to enlist people who were young and enthusiastic. For him, this freshness and energy is vital to a marketing business:

“One stumbling block you tend to find, especially in sales and marketing and with people who have been with companies for a while, is that they become jaded. I have come from a sales background and I know it’s easy to slip into the ‘oh well, I remember when I was there I did this’ attitude. It’s nice to have a fresh approach and the apprentices’ enthusiasm is quite infectious. I think it has a knock-on effect with the rest of the team.”

Working closely with Weston College, which has an ‘Outstanding’ Ofsted report, as well as the National Apprenticeship Service, CBSL has dedicated an entire floor of its premises to the new academy.

“We are going to look at every individual, find out what their strengths are and define exactly what they’d like to achieve. We’re quite lucky because with Weston College’s support we can tailor or extend the NVQs or other qualifications according to people’s needs. Basically, we’d like to make it a fun learning experience whilst giving the experience of work as well.”

It’s Gareth’s hope that the academy will operate as a source of high-quality, motivated staff across CBSL’s various interests. However, he sees it as an investment in the business’s future and certainly not as a way to minimise the wage bill:

“Although you can pay an apprentice substantially less per hour than a standard member of staff, we don’t believe in that. An hour’s work is an hour’s work and it’s hard-earned whichever way you do it. We will be paying close to minimum wage, if not minimum wage, for the majority of the people we take on. If the apprentice is interested in a sales role, then they will be incorporated into our bonus scheme. This will allow them to earn additional remuneration whilst obtaining the qualification that suits their needs. We’re looking to expand the business and we would very much like to train people in-house with us and then retain them.”

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