Thinking Business with Kieran McKeown

Our CEO, Kieran McKeown, on life in business, and how jobs change lives.

Our name

We started life as WBS Recruitment, specialising in placing accountancy and supply chain candidates. At the time, we were sharing an office with a marketing company in Waterford, and it was they who came up with the name Matrix. It’s a widely used term in business and often refers to finding solutions, which we felt was a great fit for our firm.

Our time

Matrix is celebrating 20 years in business next year.

Making money

The norm in the recruitment industry is to charge a percentage of a candidate’s basic salary, and different percentages apply to different salary scales.

However, other factors, such as the volume of business a client does with us allows us to offer additional value. Equally, if we have a long-term contract with a client, we can usually offer reduced terms.

Biggest achievement?

There have been some key milestones for the company. The first was winning our first major recruitment contract from a well-known pharmaceutical company. The next, and it will probably come as no surprise, was surviving the recession. 2008 to 2010, in particular, were very difficult years for the recruitment industry, but we weathered the storm, and I think that this has actually made us a better and stronger company. Finally, our first major contract (with a global FMCG brand) as we emerged from the recession really helped to cement our survival strategy.

What are we like to work for?

We are a company that embraces change; always looking to improve our service, our structures, and our performance. Anyone joining the company should also recognise the importance of recruitment as a life-changer, which might sound like a lofty notion but is something I believe is true. Jobs change people’s lives.

Once you start with Matrix, it might be difficult to leave. Most of our staff have been with us for more than five years, and many have been with the company for more than ten.

Company culture

I can sum it up in one word – respect. We really do make every effort to ensure clients, candidates, and our recruitment consultants are treated with respect, and this ethos runs right throughout the company. I think it’s important to lead by example and training programmes can also assist with ensuring fundamental values are brought to life and not just paid lip service.

Finance to start and grow

When we started out, we formed a co-operative, primarily to avail of an EU grant, which helped us to buy IT equipment and part fund early salary payments.  Each member of the co-operative self-financed the company and as revenue increased, we built up reserves. We are obviously no longer operating as a co-operative, and if there is one thing I would like to see introduced by the government, it would be grants for non-manufacturing SMEs starting out.

“Cash is king and cash flow planning is the biggest lesson I have learned.”

Expansion plans 

We will be growing our financial services recruitment division dealing with both national and international clients in this sector; so our growth will be mapping market growth, which is good news for Matrix.

Our engineering, lab, and quality (quality control) divisions are also expanding, and this is a trend we see continuing across 2017.

For the first time in nine years we are returning to the motor, retail and hospitality sectors as we see tremendous opportunities in these areas, so overall, it’s a really positive picture for our industry.

Most important lesson 

Cash is king and cash flow planning is the biggest lesson I have learned in my many years in business. I would advise any business owner to retain sufficient reserves to allow you to meet your plans for the business.

Three things you’d take to a desert island?

Even though I’m only allowed three things, this is an easy one. Carole King’s Tapestryalbum, which is 46 years old but as good now as it was back then. If you think you don’t know it, you’ll certainly recognise some of the better-known tracks such as It’s Too Late Baby and You’ve Got a Friend. Solid gold. As a proud Fermanagh man, my second choice has to be the Fermanagh flag, and for a little indulgence, my third would be a never-ending supply of Picnic Bars.

Business

This article was published on thinkbusiness.ie in February 2017 

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