Meet the MD, Steve Johnson
How would you describe the primary activities of your company?
Johnson Procurement Solutions Limited (JPS) is a North East-based procurement specialist.
I founded the company in 2016, following a career in the procurement and purchasing industry across a range of organisations. I have amassed a wealth of knowledge and experience over the years and established JPS with the desire to add value to SMEs-offering an exceptional integrated procurement service on an outsourced basis.
Our procurement services provide our client base with the opportunity to engage with a highly proactive partner which, whilst outsourced, offers an essential extension to their team. Ideally situated to enable organisations to grow by reviewing all levels of expenditure and cost base, JPS has the ability to increase an organisation’s buying power overnight thanks to our position and network, all whilst reducing costs and overhead expenditure. This essential service positions an organisation at the forefront of its market(s) allowing it to be more competitive, efficient and effective.
Our services and solutions can be tailored to meet our clients’ requirements and include:
• Daily Purchase 2 Pay (Live Buying Team)
• Strategic Transformation Programs
• Strategic Contract Procurement
• Dedicated Project Procurement, Commercial & QS Support
• JPS-Recruit - Dedicated recruitment for Procurement and Commercial Staff.
What has been your biggest challenge in your current position and how did you overcome it?
I think the biggest challenge for me, coming from my experience of being in senior roles within large PLC companies, was getting used to being on ‘the other side of the desk’. I know my capabilities of those of my team as well as the dynamic improvements that can be achieved in a business once the JPS strategies and processes are applied. However, ‘selling’ it to potential clients was totally alien to me – I’ve had to learn new skills in order to effectively market and sell our services in the SME market.
The procurement support we offer is innovative and unique; sometimes it can be a challenge to communicate this effectively. In the early-stage conversations with a prospect, quite often we find that the prospect has preconceived ideas of what we do, which can deter them from engaging with us. Furthermore, many organisations believe they have everything ‘under control’ and they don’t realise the improvements that could be made to their procurement function and how we can
support them with that.
To overcome these barriers, JPS offer free consultations, supply chain reviews together with a free trial period for some of our services. In our experience, when you offer an innovative service, the onboarding process takes more time – therefore we have more frequent and more extensive touch points with our clients, and clients-to-be, in order to provide the comfort and assurance they need to do business with us.
What is your most memorable achievement?
I strive to evolve and grow constantly so I tend not to spend too much time considering my achievements… once I get there, I’m thinking about the next milestone!
However, from a personal point of view, my biggest achievement has to be my family and ensuring they are comfortable and have a great life (even if I am not there to share it some days). Seeing them happy makes me happy. From a business point of view, I have always felt the most satisfaction from working and supporting others, whether it be the people in my team or a client. During my times at AMEC and Laing O’Rourke, I created highly effect teams that allowed existing team members, who may not have previously been allowed to step out of their comfort zones, to really engage and showcase their full capability. I believe it’s a manager’s responsibility to work closely with their team to enable them to grow as individuals and thrive in their career.
When you were little, what did you want to be when you grew up?
Very easy this one… My Dad (I still do!).
My father, Maurice, started his career as a plant fitter. Following an accident that damaged his lower back, he was moved to an office job rather than being made redundant.
From this low-level position, he worked his way up the ladder to become the youngest director for that PLC company at the time... No mean feat in the 1970/1980s! He went on to start his own business and has since owned a number of businesses throughout the years.
Through the highs and the lows, he has always had this natural strength and resilience to keep moving forward, to just keep going... I don’t think he knows how to quit. He recently established a new specialist Diamond Cutting business at the age of 70, which keeps him busy! He just loves people and being in business - one of his favourite sayings is “This time next year Rodney”.
Any pet hates in the workplace? What do you do about them?
I hate classroom-type environments that some managers/directors try and instil. I like the workplace to be vibrant and fun with the right balance of work discussions and banter. I work best in this environment because I can be productive and enjoy being around the people I work with, we spend so much of our lives at work, it’s so important that we enjoy being there... I like it when our office is busy and bustling as this is great indication the team working well!
Where do you see the company in five years’ time?
So, we are coming up to our third anniversary and in the previous years we have enjoyed solid growth. However, our plan for the next 5 years is to increase this growth pattern so we can increase our client portfolio, open another regional office, employ more staff and offer additional services where appropriate.
What do you believe makes a great leader and what advice would you give to an aspiring business leader?
In my career to date, I have been lucky to work with some great leaders… and also some that weren’t so great. So, for me, what makes a great leader is somebody I can respect and relate to that inspires me to do the best job I can.
You can’t respect or relate to someone if they don’t take the time to get to know you to understand your shared values, interests and personal experiences.
Therefore, leaders should be proactive and let their teams know ‘we are in this together’, leading by example and from the front.
What do you wish someone had told you when you started out in business?
I wish someone had told me to start earlier. Age doesn’t matter in business. The right experience and ability to deliver on what you have promised is all that really matters. If you think you are ready, then go for it! However, weigh up the risks and ensure you can still afford to pay the mortgage so this might mean you need to continue in your current role until you have achieved enough income to make it the transition.
Remember, it will not happen overnight so be ready, committed and prepared for sacrifice. If you want to have it easy, stay where you are!
Tell me something we don’t already know about you…
I once bumped into a living elephant… Thailand don’t ask!
QUICK FIRE ROUND
In-House or Outsource = Outsource… of course!
Book or eBook = eBook. Best book so far - Shoe Dog: A Memoir by the Creator of Nike, Phil Knight.
Wine or Cocktails = Both… why limit yourself?
City or Country = Country - nothing better than a dog walk and country pub Sunday dinner.
Twitter or Instagram = Twitter
Cars or Bicycles = Cars and Motorbikes
Summer or Winter = Both! I’ve been skiing since I was 7.
Christmas or Birthday = Christmas… best day of the year! Love the build-up but not the depressed 10 minutes after the kids have opened all their presents!