Answering call of jobseekers

By Joseph Aldridge

A Tauranga-based recruitment agency has broken into the national labour market and started a period of rapid expansion.

1st Call Recruitment has won awards for being the favourite small, and later medium-sized, recruitment agency in New Zealand, but landing big national jobs eluded the company until recently.

Managing director Phill van Syp started the company in 2006 but opening a branch in Auckland in 2011 turned out to be a key to the big jobs.

"The Auckland branch was opened mainly on the basis that we were having trouble getting any national tenders - we couldn't get the big boys on board because they would say 'where's your office in Auckland?'."

1st Call has since landed big national jobs, most recently the right to supply staff to a division of grocery giant Foodstuffs.

The deal, signed this year, resulted in 1st Call's annual revenue doubling overnight. The right to supply staff to the Foodstuff's co-operative - earned if 1st Call is successful in its three-month trial period - could triple revenue.

Mr van Syp was excited about the Foodstuffs deal which gave his company "huge credibility" in the industry.

"It's unfathomable. Forget triple, it would just go crazy."

The job would see 1st Call's Tauranga office handling the payroll for thousands of employees around New Zealand.

But expanding the business was already under way before the Foodstuffs job came along, Mr van Syp said, with the opening of a Hamilton branch last year and another planned for Christchurch this year.

Changes are also happening at the Tauranga head office, which will move from the central city State Insurance building to a new building in Mount Maunganui.

"The reason we're moving is because the town is just a bit too difficult for us to work out of so we're going to the Mount," Mr van Syp said.

"Most of my staff live at the Mount so it's a bit of a bonus for them as well."

The Mount shift will result in the 11 Tauranga staff splitting into operations and management divisions.

Value for money fuelled 1st Call's early successes, and still remained at its core, but determination had opened the door to the big league, Mr van Syp said.

"I found it really frustrating that we did so well in the awards and we got great comments back from clients but I just couldn't sit back and let Auckland take all the glory - we were just going to win no matter what.

"I guess we don't sit still. I want to know what we can do to become better for tomorrow - not so much waiting to see what our competitors do and then trying to match it.

"We are really trying to lead where recruitment is going."

- Bay of Plenty Times

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