Entrepreneur Craig Headford’s logistics industry business and recruitment agency, Headford Group, has reached a significant milestone: 20 years of successfully placing people in strategic logistics roles around the world.
Bristol-born Craig returned to the city in 2002 to start the business that would see thousands of vacancies in the supply chain filled with first-class operatives over the next 20 years.
After two decades at the helm, Craig retains the passion he had when he launched the business. He says, ‘Whilst I am at the helm, we will certainly have a passion for growth. My vision is to build a business globally that employs over 1,000 people.’
Carrying him towards that target is a portfolio of strategic business support activities that make the group stand out in the industry and provide first-class strategic tools to help the logistics industry work more successfully and profitably.
The core of the Headford Group success is Craig’s ethos: that the need to create a business that is more a family of personnel than a group of individuals who lack any team spirit is vital. This is as important to a successful business as is turning a profit.
He says, ‘We are still now very much a family-style business and my management team are very loyal and close to me. My vision is to build a legacy. We are global and are recruiting staff for all business-critical departments of our business. Hopefully, a fair number of those will be the family, children and friends of my existing highly performant team members.’
All these years after founding the Group, Craig can look back on how his business has not been terminally deflected by global and business events and has reached 2022 in a strong and healthy position.
He says, ‘Despite numerous challenges over the last 20 years we have battled on. We had the stock market crash in 2008, Brexit uncertainty and a global pandemic in that time. Because of this, I am very proud of our growth and achievements so far.’
As to where the Group might be after its second couple of decades in 2042, there may be a further family angle…
Craig says, ‘A lot depends on my management team, my son Oscar and what he wishes to do in the future. Some of my key management team are considerably younger than me so I would like a situation where they could continue to run it and train and develop Oscar should he wish to join the company.’
Craig joined the freight industry at 16 and spent the next 14 years in both operations and sales, leaving it after the Millennium to work briefly in IT recruitment. In 2002 he decided to combine his experience in logistics and recruitment into what became Headford Group. That’s 35 years of almost uninterrupted experience and knowledge. Craig’s primary reason for setting the business up was that he missed the industry and the people in it. However, this did not blind him to the need to establish a viable and profitable company that satisfied its clients’ needs. He says, ’I believed I could add significant value to the bottom line of a lot of my contacts in the industry, combining my overall knowledge of the forwarding industry and my extensive recruitment training from a market-leading recruitment business.’
It is not possible to know exactly how many people Craig and his team have placed in satisfactory roles, but it would surely run into the thousands over the 20-year period.
‘We currently have 30 consultants and this will be rising to over 50 by the end of 2022, spread across the Group’s recruitment companies in various countries. There is nothing more rewarding than getting paid to assist somebody with their career path and income,’ says Craig.
It is perhaps obvious, but still worth pointing out, that the job market, like the rest of business in 2002, was very much still in the hangover from the 20th century. Now, the world is most definitely in the 21st century.
A major concern of the times has become the opportunities offered to women across all sectors of business and commerce. Craig is completely behind expanding opportunities for female staff. He says, ‘I am pleased to say we are seeing a significant growth in the number of women coming into the industry. Some of the top jobs are now held by women, and rightly so. Headford Group is certainly pushing its female headcount and over 50% of this year’s hires have been women for the recruitment part of the business.’
Craig says, ‘There is a massive skills shortage in freight forwarding globally. We are fighting this head on by use of our job board, forwardingjobs.com. We are adding additional executive search consultants and seeing a massive increase in our candidate marketing spend. We genuinely believe that with our combined resources as a group we have access to more candidates than all of our competitors combined.’
Needless to say, everyone in the Group is very excited about the next 20 years.