User:Mark Casey

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A bug often afflicts successful owner entrepreneurs in the comms industry. They build a business, successfully cash in, have a long break and then cannot resist the itch to do it all again. Mark Casey is a case in point but this time around he’s putting more into his business life than he’s taking out. Born and bred in north London and a self-confessed Arsenal fanatic, Nexus IP MD Mark Casey has always had an inbuilt desire, like his inspiration Arsene Wenger, to be the best.

“My parents were careful with money. I was always told you can’t have it unless you earn it so as a youngster I was car washing, cleaning window and doing anything to make money. Making money became my hobby. My uncle first took me to Arsenal and I saw that if you put the effort in the outcome was there. It was a very simple lesson.”

After leaving Finchley Grammar School with a couple of O-levels in Greek Literature and Geography, he cut his milk teeth in the telecoms industry as an apprentice at Plessey where he quickly understood how not to give customers good service and was determined to offer something different. “Iit was always my personal ambition to start a company. I did not want to turn the handle for 15 years,” he recalls. “I wanted to prove that service delivery to customers should be the number one focus. I felt telecoms could be deployed in a timelier manner. At Plessey customers had to wait weeks for an engineer. I was also a bit of a pioneer in identifying that customers weren’t getting solutions and I always felt big companies cannot flex and reach out like smaller companies can.”

Over the next 15 years with the support of his wife Caroline, Casey grew the business he had envisaged, Marcom Communications, into a successful multi-million pound company employing 50 people.

“Initially, while my wife carried on working in insurance I worked as a one man band from my garage in Palmers Green selling engineering support and supplying and installing telephone systems. We funded the business via a Nat West overdraft personally guaranteed against our house. When you put your own money in failure is not an option. There is no better business driver.

“Eventually we moved to a proper office in Southgate where my wife looked after the backup admin and cash management while I was out on the road.”

By then Casey had created what he regards as his big break by securing a direct supplier relationship with Siemens after buying from Bob Old’s Rocom for many years.

“I wanted to be in the premiership – I had the skill sets and I wanted the profile of a direct reseller, he says

“Siemens were fundamental to the growth of the business. We were sales and engineering focused so they helped a lot with our marketing and planning.”

By 2005 the market was changing to a service focussed model and Casey was itching to move up a level.

“I felt Marcom had plateaued as an organisation. We were running with the same turnover, the same headcount, and the same profit. We were coasting. We had mostly SMB customers and I wanted to elevate into mid-market enterprises. We needed to invigorate and drive on to the next level.

“I considered acquiring companies, I considered being acquired. As a result of working with Redstone Telecom I spoke to them about moving up. They were looking for a vendor specific business so they acquired Marcom and retained us as wholly owned subsidiary of Redstone PLC.

“I did three happy years within the PLC. It gave me some personal growth and development reporting to a PLC board.” After a strategic review in late 2010 Redstone decided to go back to an Enterprise focus and sold the Marcom client base to Maintel . “Under TUPE rules there was a job for me but not a board level position. I was offered voluntary redundancy but I preferred a compromise agreement to take their Daisy network revenues instead.” And there was pressure from his former team to remodel the original Marcom business. “It was like putting a dream team back together again. I said no because I knew the massive effort it would take to build something from nothing. Ironically it was their desire to want to drive the business that made me think I could rebuild as a team. I knew they would go hammer and tongs at it.” Casey, again with support of Caroline, negotiated personal deals with the five key players in his new team including ‘captain’ James Higgins and ‘keeper’ Julie Kaleel and Nexus IP was born, operating from the original Southgate office. “I remember saying to the five if they had the drive I would fund it and give them the opportunity to develop the sort of company we aspired to. Nexus is Latin for connected. It’s a reiteration of the connection between us and the client. And IP is obviously where we sit now. The business is a continuation.” In its first year NexusIP has achieved a turnover of £350,000 which Casey regards as about right for a start-up and, working with Siemens again, the flame of ambition is burning bright.

“We want to be recognised as one of the most professional partners in the Siemens community. We installed the Siemens system in the Gores office who own Siemens. That says a lot for the relationship we enjoy. The key measurement for me going forward is that the customer sees the benefits of the business solution we have promised and delivered.”

Fundamentally, Casey believes he now, finally, has his work life balance in order. He spends more time with his young family, ran the London Marathon last year and raised £20,000 for the British Heart Foundation in support of his eldest son Ben, who was born with congenital heart disease.

And he has become one of only 1000 directors in the UK to achieve Chartered Director status and now mentors other business directors on business growth. As he concludes: “Not bad for as North London boy without any real qualifications!”