In a rare glimpse into the ‘heart and soul’ of a growing North East company, Contact Centre and eCommerce Fulfilment specialist Spark Response opened its doors last week to business support network Entrepreneurs’ Forum.

25 tickets to the event, held at Spark’s premises at Follingsby Park in Gateshead, were made available exclusively to forum members last month. The event quickly became one of its most-subscribed events with 22 places being snapped up in the first two days. In attendance on the day were local business people including Entrepreneurs’ Forum Executive Director Nicola Short.
Hosted by Managing Director Peter Slee and colleagues Noel Lambert (Operations Director), Any Redfern (Director of sister company Spark Etail) and Vivien Gallagher (Operations Manager), the purpose of the event was to share the company’s history, growth, successes and challenges, as well as to see the fulfilment centre in action as it prepares for the busiest eight weeks of the year in the run up to Christmas.

Attendees were also treated to breakfast and networking before Peter, Noel and Andy gave a presentation on Spark’s offering, which has helped it build a reputation as one of the country’s leading contact centre and fulfilment specialists, and the journey the business has been on since Peter joined the business in 2003.

Peter said: “We’re always keen to work with business support networks such as the Entrepreneurs’ Forum so it was great for us to have the opportunity to welcome 25 of its members to site to see the day to day running of a business like ours, find out a little about what we do but more importantly hear about our journey, our beliefs and what we think has contributed to our success story.
“The feedback we’ve received from the forum has been extremely positive and I think the insight into the growth of the company since 2002, when our Chairman Barry Stiefel came to the business, and the development of our existing team since then, was something members found particularly interesting.

“The key to our success is very much down to the fantastic team we have in place and the support we offer each other and that was ultimately what we wanted to put across to the members.”

Peter, Noel and Andy also spoke about the growth of Spark Etail, the eCommerce retail arm of the business; and Spark’s ‘Culture for Success’ which includes initiatives such as rewarding employees for key achievements, regular staff newsletters and roadshows and an free annual funday for staff and their families.
Peter continued: “None of the people-focused things we do mean a great deal on their own, but together they contribute massively to our success and industry-leading tenure of almost nine years.”

The business presentation was followed by a tour of Spark’s busy fulfilment centre, headed up by Operations Manager Vivien Gallagher.

Forum member Andrew Nicholson of Nicholson Consultancy said: “The format of the event worked very well with a good combination of warehouse tour and presentations. There was also plenty of interaction and opportunity to ask questions and the chance to network too.”

Adrian Cheesman of Demob Job Ltd added: “I gained a great deal from the introduction made by the senior management team, especially them sharing their ideas on how to build a great business culture. This is an event that both inspires me and provides excellent ideas irrespective of business size.”