George Reed will admit he’s failed in business, because he’s convinced that failure six years ago is a major factor behind his current company enjoying the fastest growth by turnover of any in London and the South East right now.

“It was a disaster,” he recalls. “But you have to experience failure in your walk of life.”

The realisation that his first business – an engineering recruitment firm – had “too wide a remit”, and the job that he took afterwards in the charity sector, have both fed directly into his latest venture: Thorold Dewling Oil & Gas Recruitment.

“The big change for me was when I did recruitment in the charity sector – it was much more about being really ethical and transparent.”

Fuelled by his passion for the oil and gas industry, George decided to channel that charity ethos into a highly-specialised recruitment and headhunting firm in the sector.

“The big thing I wanted to do was change the perception of the recruitment industry, and the perception of the oil industry,” he says.

“We’re going to be open and honest. And we’re really going to specialise in oil and gas – it’s absolutely vital that we understand the sector.”

“I think we have hit the market in a really unique way,” says George. “We do things quite differently.”

George co-founded the business with his wife Eleanor; the name, Thorold Dewling, is a combination of old family names on either side.

While their ambitions for the years ahead include opening offices first in Aberdeen then overseas, and establishing separate arms specifically to cover decommissioning and shale gas, George says they are fiercely protective of the “family feel” of the firm.

“We don’t want to expand dramatically because we want to do it in the right way. It’s really important that the family ethos is there,” he says.

“I think having the family focus filters down to our clients.”

Thorold Dewling keeps in regular contact with its contractors “to see they are happy”, with George also taking them out periodically for curry nights.

“We try to give them something to be a part of,” he says, explaining that contractors may miss out on a sense of belonging to a permanent employer.

The firm also chooses to donate 10% of its profits to good causes every year – an obvious legacy of George’s charity sector experience.

Thorold Dewling’s fresh approach and impressive growth recently earned it a Spirit of Small Business Award, and have put it in the running to be named Outstanding Small Business of the Year.

When George, who is a proud father of two, speaks about the company that is also with a father’s pride:

“I love this business. It’s in my name, it’s got an identity, it’s got a character – and I think it’s a good character.”


Stephen Robb (C)

November 2014