Chairman’s spotlight on… Paul Van Heeswyk
Paul Van Heeswyk is known as “Dutch” to most people, even though he’s actually more Irish than Dutch, and has an accent that’s pure Leeds. I met Dutch four years ago. He had just started his business, Crucial Engineering, and was building it from the ground up.
The moment I met Dutch, I was impressed. We got chatting at a BNI networking event and he had that entrepreneurial spark about him. When I told him that we had an issue with our office doors – and he explained that fixing industrial doors was his speciality – I asked him to take a look. He fixed our problem then and there and I invited him up to test-drive our software.
Even though he was still a one-man band at that time, he saw the potential for BigChange to help him grow his business faster than he could on his own. He’s been a customer ever since. I caught up with him recently to ask how business was going and I was delighted – although not surprised in the least – to find out he’s achieved everything he’d set out to do and more. I’d like to tell you a little more about Dutch, and hopefully you’ll be as inspired by his drive and determination as I am.
As regular readers of this blog will know, I created the “Chairman’s spotlight on…” series to celebrate the amazing business owners I’ve met on the BigChange journey. It’s an absolute privilege to be able to help these enterprising individuals to grow their companies and be more successful with our software, and I also want to shout about their endeavours from the rooftops! They deserve it!
Like many of our customers, Paul started his businesses after spending years working for other companies and realising that he could do it better. “I had worked at organisations where the ethics and morals just didn’t align with my own,” he explains. “So I got a van and bought some tools and off I went.” The quality of his work and Paul’s commitment to customer service ensured that his start-up grew quickly. Within six months, he was able to hire his first teammate, Chris. “Chris is our operations manager to this day,” he says.
Four months into his business journey, Paul decided to become a BigChange customer. “I’d seen the problems that can arise at my previous company,” he explains. “People thought that I was insane when I first started using it because it was just me, so I was sending jobs to myself and finishing them and sending them back to myself! It seemed as though I was adding more process when I was already busy. But I knew I wanted to grow Crucial, so I needed these systems in place early on. Now that we are 27 people, BigChange is the absolute brains of the business.
“The transparency that it has brought to our financial processes is vital. We use it to quote, raise purchase orders, invoice, you name it. If a customer rings up with a question about a job we completed a few weeks ago, we can instantly bring up the quote, engineer’s photos, reports, invoice, everything. There’s no trawling through folders trying to find historic information.”
Paul believes that BigChange has done more than increase efficiency; it’s reduced overheads and supercharged growth. “The cost of the software is far lower than what we would need to pay to hire an admin person to do all the laborious paperwork,” he explains. “And when I think about the growth we’ve achieved over the past four years, there’s no doubt that a proportion of that is down to BigChange.”
Paul is just at the beginning of his journey with Crucial Engineering. He recently completed the Goldman Sachs Business Growth Programme at Oxford University, an intensive three-month course that he says helped him to formulate his five-year plan. “We want to become a national player, offering a four-hour response time to clients all over the UK,” he says. Paul is eyeing acquisitions right now that will broaden his geographic footprint, and also recently bought a glazing business, which means he can produce his own glass and simplify his supply chain.
Crucial Engineering will be a market leader one day. You don’t have to take my word for it. Just look at all the awards Paul has won recently: he picked up this Growth award in Leeds recently and has been nominated in two categories at the Yorkshire Choice Awards: both ‘Independent business of the year 2022’ and ‘Businessman of the year 2022’.
Paul has always wanted to run his own business. He came up with the name Crucial Engineering while he was still in school. “I didn’t even know what the company would be doing,” he jokes. “I just knew that was going to be the name.” When Paul decided to make the leap into start-up life, he found the name was taken. “I was devastated,” he admits. “My uncle had told me to just buy it years before, but I’d ignored him.” Luckily, fate intervened and by the following Christmas, the previous owner had dissolved their company and Paul was able to snap up the name.
Now, the sky’s the limit for Paul and his team. “I’m passionate about business and building teams,” he says. “I’ve always tried to keep a positive mental attitude, I always keep searching for growth opportunities and I love dealing with people, so I love everything about building this company. And I’m thankful to Martin and BigChange for giving us a technology that grows alongside us and keeps adapting to the scale of our ambitions.”
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