Keep your worker bees sweet if you want your company to grow

Are they serious?

The secret of a growing company is to keep your staff happy, according to the latest IT winners in the Sunday Times Fast Track 100 report out this week. This year's league table of the UK's 100 fastest growing unquoted companies was rich in entrepreneurial names from the computer world, all citing a happy workforce behind their success. Progressive Computer Recruitment, the IT staff agency, was the fastest-growing company between 1994 and 1997 in the Virgin Atlantic sponsored compilation. It showed 198 per cent growth. The computer hardware channel was well represented, with Software Warehouse at number 13 and AGP Distribution at 25. Roldec Systems, Panacea Services, PC leasing company Systems Capital and assembler Taran Microsystems all secured places in the top 50. Steve Bennett, Software Warehouse founder and MD, said: "It's all down to the quality of the people you work with." Bennett has recruited family and friends to ensure 128 per cent three-year sales growth for the Birmingham-based PC retailer. The multi-millionaire, who left school at 16, said he was pleased Software Warehouse was in Fast Track for a second year. However, he said he didn't expect a mention in next year's list because the company is now concentrating on profit. He admitted: "It's difficult to increase both sales and profit at this pace." Other companies used employee incentives to combat the skills shortage threatening many in the industry. Sue Buddin, AGP Distribution marketing manager, was "excited and surprised" that the company was listed at number 25. AGP organises football matches to keep staff motivated in booming Hampshire. London-based reseller Panacea, the 41st fastest growing company, offered murder-mystery weekends, as well as bonuses and overtime pay, as motivation. Sales Director Anthony Bright said the key also lay in striking the right balance between margin and sales. Outside the top 50, London-based distributor Tai Computer Systems secured almost 80 per cent growth. No mean feat for only 13 employees. Brian Webber, Tai sales and marketing executive, said employees were the company's chief asset, and were involved in multi-tasking to keep them challenged. ADA Computer Systems, distributors Sol-Tec and CAE Office Supplies, and reseller Kingburgh were also listed.®

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