Earlier this month we attended the annual 42 Under 42 dinner, hosted by South West Business Insider.
As the name suggests, these awards recognise 42 entrepreneurs and business leaders under the age of 42, named as the rising stars of the business world. They produce an annual list, with our CEO, Alex Kerr, featuring this year.
We were delighted to discover on the night that Alex had not only joined this year’s cohort but won one of four special recognition awards: Entrepreneur of the Year.
It was the perfect time to chat again with Alex. In his usual open style, Alex reflects on this recent win, how he’s investing in tools and talent to fuel business growth, and what the future has in store.
What have you done to prioritise company growth since becoming CEO?
There’s been a big focus on building a strong pipeline of new business. Having always relied on our reputation and word of mouth, we knew it was time to invest in our sales and marketing resource and tools.
We integrated a robust CRM system to help us manage our sales strategy and lean into nurturing quality leads. This has contributed to increased sales of 20-30% over the last two years.
We’ve spent time thinking about our proposition and what sets us apart in the market. For us, it’s the quality of our service and attention to detail. Jon, our founder, instilled the importance of strong relationships and we have many long-term partners, 37 years after the business launched, we still have our first client.
And we’ve invested in bringing new talent into the company to enhance and extend the existing team. Bringing diverse thinking and significant additional industry expertise into the business has been a real asset. I believe our people are the key to our success.
How would you describe your approach to business?
We started out as a family business and even though we’ve grown and evolved, I think many of our core values still stand.
This year we’ve refreshed these, or the Kerr promises as we call them, to ensure they reflect the business we’ve become and these really act as a framework to help guide our decisions and how we do business.
So what does the future hold for Kerr over the next 3-5 years?
Sustainability is a big priority for me. We invested in a Safety and Environmental Manager last year to help with this and we’re well on the way to becoming carbon neutral in the near future.
Although change won’t happen overnight, many sustainable practices are already in place. We’ve recently renewed our ConstructionLine Accreditation and I’m excited to say that we’ve been able to offset our carbon outputs since 2022.
We’ve set targets to plant 5,000 trees by 2030 and provide 100,000 days of access to clean water and we’ve made significant progress towards both of these. We review all the suppliers we work with in line with our ambitions. For example, our energy provider for the Kerr Office is carbon neutral.
I’m encouraging our people to take the lead on some of these initiatives. To that end, we’ve set-up a charity committee internally. The committee is allocated a certain amount of time and resources for pro-bono projects. I want the team to dedicate it to causes they feel passionate about. Whether this is fixing up a community space or supporting a charity, I’m really keen to put our skills to good use beyond our commercial commitments.
What does it mean to be part of 42 Under 42 and win Entrepreneur of the Year?
Honestly, I was shocked and humbled! I was on paternity leave in the weeks leading up to the dinner, so I was still blurry-eyed from new parenthood!
As people in business, we often don’t celebrate and reflect upon our achievements, so it’s nice to recognise the successful growth we’ve had in recent years.
Really it’s a great win for the team, as I mentioned earlier, our people are the key to the success of Kerr Office Group, so this award owes as much to the whole company as it does to me.
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