Scaleup Spotlight: Tony Brooks
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What is your role within Scaleup North East?
Tell me about your career to date
Started working life as an apprentice electrician. Worked my though the company from the shop floor to the Sales Dept. I then joined a corporate business for 4 years, their HQ was in Milwaukee. I then formed my own business early 2000 with a colleague from that corporate business, we went on to take that business to around £6M turnover with 60 employees. In 2015 we sold the business to VINCI energies. At the end of 2018 I exited the business and started a new career in business support for RTC on the Scaleup programme.
What does your current role involve?
My role involves gaining the trust with owners and senior managers of SME’s in our region. I am there to help them identify their barriers to growth and then develop a plan and commence the delivery of this. The work is varied as close discussions with the client often lead to them opening up further and this is where past experience of running my own business really kicks in.
What makes Scaleup Northeast different?
I have no past experience of business support programmes before joining RTC North. I had always ignored them as I felt that they couldn’t help me. However, I can say with confidence having done this role for 2 years that the Scaleup team is full of experienced former owners and leaders. We have the scars and understand the frustrations and challenges that occur, and we have real tangible conversations with these owners and managers, so this is where we are different.
My 3 most notable achievements to date would be.
Whilst at RTC as a Scaleup Partner they would be:
Moving into business support was a concern for me as I had never done this before. 2 years down the line I can say that I thoroughly enjoy my job and skip out of bed every day. To be part of a team that delivers fantastic FREE services to the best business in the region is hugely rewarding and even better when you see your work with them talking shape.
Working with a new start up and gaining their trust to develop a strategic plan, during the process we identified potential partners which then led to additional meetings with them. Then looking at competition and finding one competitor that wanted to exit. Although not part of Plan A we approached the potential seller and then we led the acquisition and assembled a team to complete the transaction. This client has fast tracked their business by at least 10 years. The client they purchased were 6 x larger and had been going for 20 yrs.
We must mention the “C” word COVID. This has been the toughest challenge in our lives to date, people dying, business failing and no end in sight. As a team we have had to think fast, work hard, come together, and help our business community. All of this from a remote position. However, we are doing it, we have delivered many group sessions bring in different skills and helped our clients navigate their way through. Yes we have some amazing performances in the region but for many it has been about survival and I know this programme is called Scaleup but as experienced business people we have been able to pivot ourselves and help these businesses survive and plan for the future.
Tell us about your day so far
Every day is different for me. The only constant is working from home remotely for the past 18 months. I have zoom/teams meetings most days with clients and colleagues. Today I am mainly preparing for two client meetings which I hope will help them along the way when we meet tomorrow. Both clients as usually are totally different, but the challenges are similar and they both need that human support/sound board to give them that drive to succeed.
What do you enjoy outside of work?
I enjoy travelling when I can and for the past 12 months buying a motorhome and planning our staycations. I love watching most sports. I have a large family and love to spend time with them. I also love people and socialising at every opportunity.
And finally, leave us with one interesting fact about yourself.
I was born on an extremely rough estate in Nottingham and most of the kids I went to school with have gone down the wrong path in life. I left school with very few qualifications and then came work. That was my lifeline and since the age of 16 I have worked tirelessly to achieve what I have today. Hard work, positivity, good attitude, willingness to learn and a bit of luck with a happy smiley face has got my here and I still smile now 38 years later.