By Jonathan Davies
“Anything’s possible” — that’s the message entrepreneurs walked away with from the first Entrepreneurs Breakfast hosted by the Entrepreneur Wales Awards and Redrow Homes.
Welsh entrepreneurs gathered at the stunning St. Denys Gate Redrow development in Lisvane, Cardiff to hear Dale Parmenter’s inspiring story of determination, loyalty and trust.
Parmenter, the CEO of Worcester-based communications group DRP, explained that he always talked about running a business when he was young. From his teenage years, was spurred on even further by his doubters.
“If someone said to me, ‘you can’t do that’, I had to do it. And that’s still the case now” he explained.
“Anything’s possible” became Dale’s, DRP’s and later his staff’s motto.
His determination and entrepreneurial spirit led to some extreme ideas, like digging up his parents’ entire garden to plant Christmas trees, but Parmenter struck gold when he bought some filming kit. Despite an initial knock back, Dale managed to secure a contract producing corporate videos and staff videos for major carpet manufacture Brintons Carpets.
Brintons’ MD saw the importance of valuing employees and communicating with them. A highly successful and lucrative contract, Dale suffered his first major setback when a new managing director came in at Brintons and didn’t see the same value. The new MD said: ‘We don’t need to do these videos for our people. We just tell them what to do.’
Dale’s biggest setback came when a terrorist attack struck thousands of miles away. The attack on the World Trade Center on 9/11 also had a devastating impact on DRP — 60% of its business was wiped out overnight. Several travel clients decided to cancel their contracts with DRP.
While it created huge doubt over the company’s future, that huge loss of business also helped Dale to shape what DRP is today. He brought staff together to take a vote; either everyone would take a pay cut or around half would lose their jobs. They voted in favour of a pay cut, and even the apprentices earning less than their colleagues, who were exempt from the cut, insisted on reducing their pay to help the company. That day, Dale explained, helped to build a magnificent and unexpected company culture built on loyalty and trust.
Dale now repays that sacrifice with his own loyalty and trust towards his staff. Around 80% of his 170 staff have company credit cards — not something abnormal to many businesses, but Dale and his senior team do not monitor how they’re used. A risky strategy he acknowledges, but one that strengthens the trust between employer and employee. And that in turn has helped to create a wonderful company culture that inspires its staff to really care about the business and the work they’re doing.
The company culture is embodied perfectly once a year at DRP’s party. Around 1000 people attend the day, staff and clients, with 300-400 attending the evening show. This year’s included a show put on by the staff, completely of their own choice, which culminated in the staff presenting Dale with a sentimentally significant gift. But the true gift Dale’s staff give him is the hard work and dedication they show every single day. Anything’s possible.