Ensuring other businesses remain secure and people stay safe is at the heart of what Wrexham-based Parallel Security does. The firm, founded by managing director Francis Johnson in 2014, has enjoyed some robust growth in its six or so years of existence. With an ambitious plan for further expansion, the business is enjoying some exciting times.
From door supervision to events security and commercial cleaning, Parallel Security has quickly become a trusted brand. Here, Francis Johnson tells his story and reveals the highs and lows of leading a company from its inception. He also explains how being part of the Business Wales Accelerated Growth Programme (AGP) has helped their business.
The Business Wales Accelerated Growth Programme (AGP) provides targeted support for ambitious growing firms. The programme is part-funded by the European Regional Development Fund through the Welsh Government.
Tell us about Parallel Security.
Our sense of place is central to the business, its character and how it operates. It's also crucial to our story. We're proud to be from Wrexham, proud to be based in Wrexham and proud to be providing jobs and opportunities for people in this area. I'm a graduate of Glyndŵr University – I have a BA, MBA and PGCE qualification from there. So who we are is very much centred on where we are. That's important to me, and it's been key to the development of the company.
Leading Parallel has been both immensely challenging and equally rewarding. We now have staff all over the country, from Glasgow to London, but we are very much concentrating on North East Wales. With the events we usually serve being affected by Covid, we had to rethink how to push the business forward.
We've come a long way in a short time, having started out predominantly as a door security firm. Not only have we worked at some of Britain's largest events, we're also contracted to a number of hospitals, and we provide mobile response, site and corporate security to some of the biggest organisations in the country. We also have a commercial cleaning arm which is another important element of the business. So we have plenty of strings to our bow!
It means we're diverse but also very much focused on what we do and on delivering the best quality service for our clients. That focus has helped to deliver some exceptional growth, and I'm really proud of what we've achieved as a team.
We've gone from a turnover of £69,000 in our first year (2014) and we are all set to exceed £3M turnover in 2020. We're a great success story for Wrexham and Wales.
What are your proudest moments in business so far?
I've pointed to our growth as something of which I'm really proud. I've always known how much potential this business has, but reaching £1m turnover was proof of that. Our team has grown, and we're heading for further growth - this fills me with pride every day.
If you were starting again, what would you do differently?
There are plenty of lessons you learn as you start out in business. I guess that also applies to entrepreneurs who've been leading companies for decades. Learning is all part of the process. The biggest lesson for me has been to bring onboard the right people with the right skills and mindset. Another thing I think I'd do differently is work more with companies in Wales, building our local economy by working with other dynamic and ambitious firms.
How has support from Business Wales AGP helped your business?
The growth of Parallel Security has been helped in no small part by the expertise and coaching provided by Business Wales AGP. It's been such a worthwhile experience for us, and the mentoring and support we've had from our Relationship Manager Idris Price has positioned us well as we look towards further expansion.
What advice and guidance would you give other businesses starting out?
● You need to be open to new things. Don't be frightened of the new or the challenging.
● Understand that there's no 'box' in business – think outside the box. There are rich rewards if you embrace innovation.