Five minutes with Clive Lucking
Clive Lucking is CEO and co-founder of Fourfront Group, a UK commercial interior specialist on a mission to create working environments built on innovation, inspiring design, excellence in delivery and great relationships.
Clive tells us that for him, business success has been built on the back of forming successful relationships with those around him.
“Inspiration comes from seeing people fulfil their potential”
That’s what I enjoy the most in my job – helping people reach their individual potential. That can be through bringing junior people into the business and helping them progress or working with more senior individuals and giving them the opportunity to achieve their career goals. Succeeding in supporting and nurturing talent is a main focus of our business and one that gives me the most satisfaction, as ultimately our clients benefit from us employing the best calibre of individuals.
“You achieve your personal goals as a result of others achieving theirs”
You can go about starting a business in two manners. The first is: every decision you take is based upon you becoming wealthier; or you can base your decisions on having a really good company. A company where everybody enjoys working, and you empower and trust people. By doing the latter you are far more likely to build a great business that can then be a more profitable one. People work to sustain a lifestyle but I want them to enjoy what they do. I get my personal rewards by having a business that does that.
“A vibrant economy is one that is expanding”
It is exciting, opportunistic and positive. Much the same as you might call a city vibrant or someone’s personality vibrant, I think it’s something that has positive energy, creates opportunities and is attractive to many.
“Let’s talk up the economy”
I think sometimes you get doomsday predictors who downplay the positives of this country. The irony is that you have politicians who, the minute they’re in power, say how great this country is and then the moment they’re out they tell us how bad everything is. The truth is somewhere between the two. After recent events, now more than ever we should not hesitate to speak out positively about the UK. A vibrant economy is one with the freedom to trade easily, and this needs to be a focus for the country moving forward.
“Do we believe in ourselves to the extent that we can start our own business?”
My co-founders and I found ourselves at the point in our lives when had to make big decisions about our professional future. We asked ourselves: do we want to take control of our destiny? That’s what starting a business was about: the dream to work for yourself rather than someone who you aren’t sure understands you.
“When the economy has been down we have looked at the situation differently from our competitors”
While they were cutting back, we decided that we would ramp up our marketing and sales efforts, and we would focus on giving a premium service to our clients. For example, we increased services levels and invested more in promoting our business. We looked after our existing clients. Despite the tough times and bleak outlook, we chose to invest in our client relationships and it came to fruition. We got it right.
“Politics has not stood in the way of entrepreneurs, far from it”
I think government has tried really hard to create incentives for entrepreneurs to start businesses. I have been in business for 16 years and have seen all political parties try to make it easier for entrepreneurs to start businesses. It would be wrong of me to say that politics has stood in the way because it has not.
“I think people work better in environments where they’re happy”
Our product is wonderful offices and refurbished buildings to work in. That creates a better arena for people to conduct their everyday job. We hope that our workplaces inspire teams and allow them to fulfil their roles better, and in some small way act as wheels of the economy.
“Staff motivation cannot just come from one thing”
Our culture is the core of our business and it’s a culture where we try to empower people, and give them flexibility to perform to their highest level. At the same time, we have the Fourfront Academy, which is to all intents and purposes a training academy, where people have a personalised training programme. It’s not just about training but also about nurturing, developing, mentoring and investing in our people. One of our key initiatives last year was a development programme called ‘Women in Fourfront’ because we are closely linked to the construction industry, which is male-dominated. We wanted to ensure that females in our business were given every opportunity to grow and fulfil their potential. We really try hard to get our recruitment demographics right, in terms of age and gender, among others.
“Every business will tell you that they take CSR seriously”
Nowadays, corporate social responsibility is a tag that every business has on their website. Some take it more seriously than others. We, for instance, give our staff three days off a year for them to go and work at a charity of their choice.
“We took the more than 300 of our people to Spain”
We treat our staff to overseas trips. Spain was a social event but I also think that, for people to perform at a high level, they have to enjoy the company of their colleagues – that involves a social mix. We encourage people to socialise together. It also helps get ideas into the business. It motivates and frees people to offer fresh thoughts.