An entrepreneur who built a £3.4m turnover recruitment business from scratch has told how he had to sack his own brother to achieve success.
Lee Bown launched his company Recart Ltd from his spare bedroom in 2003 and today employs 18 people from offices in Nottingham.
The company specialise in the recruitment of technical staff into the automotive and engineering sectors.
In September 2006 Lee initially brought in his younger brother Matt to help out with admin duties on a temporary basis.
But Matt impressed and was given a shot at working as one of Lee’s growing team of recruitment consultants.
Lee, 37, said: “It isn’t easy mixing family with professional life and I always knew I had to treat Matt as just another member of the team.
“He did well initially and more than earned his place in the company. But after a year or so things began to change.”
Matt, 32, began turning up late for work and taking unexplained sick days. His sales figures began to suffer and his attitude in the office was unprofessional.
Lee said: “I knew Matt was having a few problems in his personal life and as his brother I cared about that but as his boss I couldn’t tolerate unprofessionalism within my company.
“I was responsible for 15 other people and I knew I had to treat Matt the same way as I would have treated any other member of the team. Sometimes you have to put the success of the business and its employees ahead of family loyalties.
“Things finally came to a head one day and I called him into the office and sacked him. It wasn’t easy but it had to be done and I knew it would be a wake up call for him to get his life together again.
“Unfortunately the day I sacked him happened to be the day before his birthday which made the news a little harder to take from his point of view but as his boss it was irrelevant. Once the decision to sack someone has been made there is no point in delaying it.”
Lee said his business decision to get rid of his brother impacted into his wider family relationships.
“The phone rang a few hours later and it was my mum. She was furious at me for sacking Matt but I had to tell her, “Mum, I’m running a company here, not a charity.’
“Eventually she calmed down and came to realise that the sacking was Matt’s own fault and not mine. But it took a few months.
“My relationship with my brother definitely took a knock but eventually he did come to see that he had put me in a difficult position. Over time we became close again and now we are closer than we have ever been.”
The story has a happy ending. Shocked by his brother’s decision to fire him Matt focused on his priorities and got his career back on track. He went to work for another recruitment firm and managed to turn his erratic personal life around too.
In December 2008, ten months after Lee sacked him, Matt was rehired by his brother and went on to become one of Recart’s top performing consultants during 2009.
Matt said: “Looking back now I can see that I gave Lee no choice but to sack me. I was all over the place, getting into work late and shooting my mouth off in the office. I think a part of me probably thought I was untouchable because I was the boss’s little brother. But Lee showed me how wrong that assumption was.
“I couldn’t believe it when he sacked me. Particularly as it was the day before my birthday. When he called me into his office I thought he might have a present for me – I never dreamed it would be my cards.”
Incredibly Matt said that being sacked by his brother could be one of the best things that has happened in his career.
"It made me take a long hard look at myself. I was in a mess in my personal life and it was the slap I needed to get things together and get my life back on track.”
Lee added: “The change in Matt’s attitude to work is astonishing. Matt used to be a shortcut taker. Now he sometimes comes into the office on his day off which really shows just how much he’s changed.”
Matt agrees: “If anything getting sacked did me a favour as it helped me realise what a good deal I had at Recart in comparison to other firms in the industry. As they say the grass isn’t always greener.
“Eventually I worked through the bad times and managed to assist Recart in having the most successful month in their history. It has all fitted into place now and with Lee’s expertise I’ve become a better consultant.”
For more information on Recart please visit the company’s website www.recart.co.uk
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