Since he was convinced to down his tools and move into sales, John Nesbitt hasn’t looked back – with the Managing Director of Atlas recently celebrating over 30 years with the company.
He only joined the then Atlas Communications because a neighbour of his father-in-law mentioned that they were looking for electricians. After he was talked into joining the sales team, he then didn’t take an offer to buy the fire and security division seriously.
But to put his success in the industry down to being in the right place at the right time would be an over simplification. The fact that he prefers to deflect any praise onto the team at Atlas is a better reflection of his business philosophy.
“We have a fantastic team of people at Atlas who are passionate about what we do. I’ve learned the hard way is that you have to play to people’s strengths and we are enjoying the benefits of that at Atlas. We’ve gone from 17 employees and an annual turnover of £1milion to over 50 employees and a £5million turnover. We’re working right across the UK and as well as fire and security we’ve expanded into the energy, audio visual and maintenance sectors.
“Last year we were named as the Fire & Security Contractor of the Year in Northern Ireland and launched our rebranding, so that was a great way to mark my anniversary. At our most recent strategy meeting to review the progress of our five-year plan we realised that we had already met the objectives that we had set for 2017, so these are exciting times. But as we’ve grown we have never forgotten the customers who helped us build the business. That has been the basis of our success.”
After the neighbourly advice saw him join Atlas Communications, first as an engineer and then a supervisor, John was approached to join the sales team.
“I was worried about not generating enough sales and getting my commission, so they told me to give it a go and then guaranteed my wage for the first six months. I actually did myself out of a lot of commission with that deal!”
John helped grow the fire and security side of the business and was soon in need of extra assistance, so he convinced his former apprentice, Robert Creagmile, to join his sales team.
“Robert took to sales naturally and over the past 20 years we have worked very closely with our customers to establish strong relationships built upon trust, confidence, service and delivery.”
While Atlas Communications changed ownership and its name in the intervening years, the fire and security division continued to grow, with John offered the chance to take it over – which he eventually did alongside Stephen McConnell and Robert Creagmile.
“Initially, I didn’t think it was a serious offer but then we realised that the division could possibly be downsized if we didn’t take it on and none of us wanted to see our friends losing their jobs. It was a big decision, but one I’m delighted we took.”
John is always looking for new ways to expand the business and he is currently exploring the opportunities of thermal imaging surveys using a drone!
“I remember a speaker at a conference some years ago telling us about how people would soon be able to watch movies sent to their TV through a phone line and thinking it was all pie in the sky. I’ve learned to take these things seriously now. But you’ll only convince others to embrace this if they trust you, which is why we have to continue to look after all our customers.”
Looking ahead, the diehard Liverpool fan is also looking forward to enjoying a few more city breaks and holidays.
“I get a lot of stick for my love of holidays but I love getting away, either to Spain or somewhere with great architecture.”
T: Atlas on (NI) 028 9039 1000 or (RoI) 048 9039 100