On big growth curve: From left, Remarkable People advisory board chair Hayden Dillon, director Ed Stott and managing director Blair McNaughton

It might sound a bit hackneyed, but what recruiter Remarkable People has done in only seven years truly is remarkable. The award-winning Queenstown-headquartered company operates in 12 venues across the country and, its head honchos tell PHILIP CHANDLER, they now have plans to break into other industries, starting with hospitality

It started with a bad idea which became a good idea.

Queenstown-based recruitment company Remarkable People, now operating in 12 locations around New Zealand, started with mates Blair McNaughton and Ed Stott chewing the fat, in a pub, over a few beers.

Stott then ran Allied Security, and wanted to give some bouncers some daytime work, so the pair thought, let’s get them on building sites.

‘‘Essentially, that’s where Remarkable Labour, as it was called back then, was formed [in 2016],’’ McNaughton says.

‘‘We soon learned that was probably not a smart idea because all the security staff were working till 3, 4 in the morning, so to get them out of bed at 7, didn’t work too well.

‘‘But the idea was right, and we shifted into finding backpackers, and that worked a whole lot better.’’

Explaining the success of a company that’s made the past three Deloitte Fast 50 lists for revenue growth — last year’s was 173% — Stott says: ‘‘I guess, Blair and I not being from the recruitment industry, but having hired lots of people, allowed us to take a fresh approach.’’

A key, they say, is tailoring recruitment to the needs of the client.

‘‘And we are the type of guys that forge relationships pretty well face-to-face,’’ Stott says.

McNaughton adds: ‘‘I think the key is not to over-complicate it, right?

‘‘Keep it simple, and it is good old Southern roots, service, look someone in the eye, shake their hand, and that’s what our clients keep coming back and telling us.’’

The pair were also helped by others.

An early shareholder, whom they later bought out, was Allied Security owner Damian Black who, having grown his business around the country, gave the founders a good blueprint for doing it.

Early on they were also approached for work by well-dressed Irishman Paddy O’Regan, whom they quickly realised knew more about recruitment than they did.

He proceeded to run the Queenstown operation for a while, became a shareholder and is now their Auckland-based sales director.

Another ingredient’s their independent advisory board chairman Hayden Dillon, whose background’s in banking.

Dillon’s very aware many companies grow too fast for their own good.

‘‘I think the challenge, and we’ve always spoken about it, is we want to maintain that culture that builds it, that Remarkable People culture, which is sort of the Southern lads culture, but also bring the [financial] rigour and discipline that allows the company to grow really quickly around the country.’’

A key was the name change from Remarkable Labour.

‘‘We didn’t want to stay just doing labour,’’ McNaughton says.

‘‘Originally, that was 90% of our business, whereas now trades and construction might make up about 30%.’’

Other areas include manufacturing and logistics, admin and IT support, healthcare, events and hospitality.

Currently they employ about 60 staff and place 700 to 800 people into work each week.

Stott says what’s allowed the company to expand around NZ is national clients like Fulton Hogan whom they service from Invercargill to Auckland.

Of course, like many businesses, Covid and the resultant loss of migrant labour were major challenges.

McNaughton recalls sleepless nights having 250 people they couldn’t put to work — the government wage subsidies came through just in time.

On the other hand, he says they came out stronger after Covid as it sped up their market segmentation.

Then, when the migrant tap was turned off, you had to take ‘‘anyone who has two arms, two legs’’, Dillon says.

Things have improved, and now the company’s undergoing more growth under a new umbrella, Remarkable Group, with the idea of getting into other sectors like hospo, tourism and property.

The Remarkable Hospo subsidiary recently got going with the acquisition of two Queenstown bars, Bardeaux and Barmuda.

‘‘We want to build that company, the Remarkable Group, into a bit of a family sort of company that’s going to be here for who knows how long,’’ McNaughton says.

‘‘You look at some pretty good success stories out of Queenstown — RealNZ, the Davies family.

‘‘Hey, look, they started here and built some pretty cool things, so why can’t we do that as well?’’

Stott: ‘‘One of the cool things about having a recruitment business is, any other venture we do, nine times out of 10 it’s going to require people, and so, if that’s one box we can tick, that makes expanding into other areas and industries much easier.’’

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