Man shares how he built £500 business to £100million empire

Leading business figures are sharing how they made turned their work dreams into million-pound empires. One man is breaking down the real life story of how he “had to make it work” to become a multi-millionaire.

Speaking exclusively to, Simon Gardiner outlined how he founded Carrington-West, a technical recruitment company.

The business started during the height of the economic crisis in the later 2000s but has thrived despite turbulent times.

He explained: “To keep costs low, we set up in my brother’s garage, two laptops, two mobile phones on temporary fold-out tables.

“We had to wear fingerless gloves to be able to make calls and type but stay warm at the same time.

“We had no choice but to set up in a recession, times were tough but exciting, I miss the days in the garage.”

He shared the business’ humble beginnings and the initial difficulties that came about when starting out.

The businessman said: “We budgeted for two months without pay to reinvest the early revenue and build the business. Unfortunately, the reality didn’t work out this way.

“It was 14 months before we could draw a salary, and even then it was £500 a month which barely covered my mortgage.

“Earning just over £6,000 for two years of hard work, meant I had to sacrifice a huge amount, my savings disappeared and I ended up putting life’s essentials on a credit card.

“It was a culture shock, especially from the salary and the lifestyle I was used to before we set up. I drove a £250 car, didn’t have a holiday for almost four years, and had to watch my friends live nice lives and everything that comes with it, it was hard.

“But we had personal guarantees against the funding required to run the company, and the only assets we had to back this up were our homes. So, we had no choice but to make it work.”

In the last 14 years, the business has adapted to be more than a recruitment company to be also a “great place to work”, according to its founder.

Despite his success, Mr Gardiner does not yet believe he has “made it” in business and is always looking for ways to make the company better.

However, there are key milestones that he does take pride in Carrington-West achieving over the decade and a half.

Mr Gardiner added: “This was finally realised in November 2022, as Investors in People named us as ‘Platinum Employer of the Year; for the entire country, an award we received on my 40th birthday.

To enhance the family feel and team spirit, it’s important to celebrate the milestones together as a company, but everyone here knows that we haven’t ‘made it’. In fact, in my eyes, we have only just begun.

“We employ 100 people, that means myself and the other co-founders have 100 bosses, we work for them, not the other way around.

“Our role is to make their lives and jobs easier. We pour time, money and effort into their well-being and their training & development.

“Not just because it’s the right thing to do, but because it helps the business grow as well.”

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