Local MP becomes Business Buddy Gordon Bennie MD of Blue Olive Technology
Falkirk-based company Blue Olive Technology continues to expand, introducing a stationery arm to the business earlier this year. “Not particularly because we were trying to build a stationery business, but because we have 3-4,000 customers and it made sense that we provided a stationery service to them” said MD Gordon Bennie. Recently the team were paid a visit by their local MP as part of the “Get Britain Trading Again” initiative. Organised by the Forum on Private Businesses, the scheme aims to get local MPs spending time with businesses to see what the problems really are.
The Falkirk forBusiness Magazine
Issue 3 • December 2011
“It’s a fantastic idea” enthused Gordon. ”The vast majority of MPs have no idea on how to run a business or have any idea what it means.”
“It varies from council to council, but if you use the public procurement portals, I feel that SMEs don’t stand a chance and hence don’t engage in it, because 1) they don’t have the skill level, or that’s what they are made to believe, 2) they don’t really understand process and 3) just the sheer indignation of being ruled out because you’ve not got ISO9000 or some other qualification that doesn’t fit into their one-size-fits-all system. Essentially, it excludes a great deal of companies from the procurement process and it shouldn’t.” Gordon went on to stress that local governments should be looking to small local companies for smaller contracts, which could help to fund jobs and support local economies. “Smaller contracts should carry a public process with simplified and fast-track tendering,” he suggests. Michael Connarty was very enthusiastic about his visit:
Gordon was partnered with Linlithgow and East Falkirk MP Michael Connarty, who has a long track record of working with the local business community. Michael spent five hours listening to Gordon’s business concerns which focused on what is currently affecting SME’s. “I focused firstly on cash flow activities,” said Gordon. People in every business now are withholding cash to protect their business. You can’t legislate for it but it’s a huge burden on a small company. For me, that’s probably the hardest area of them all, (outside of sales) - keeping cash flow positive.” As a small business manager, Gordon is all too aware of the constraints around local government procurement. “Local governments try to use big corporate tactics against small companies, turning them away saying, “You don’t have this quality standard or that one,” – it becomes a weighting factor and small companies don’t know how to react to that.”
“Business Buddies’ is a very important scheme to keep MPs in touch with people at the sharp end of the economy and I have ‘buddied - up’ with Ecosse Peugeot in Bo’ness and Blue Olive, both businesses being exactly the kind of SME’s that can create jobs for the future. On local tendering rights, I have spoken to the Council Leader, Craig Martin and know Falkirk Council have a policy that should allow local small businesses to be considered for council contracts. I also know that Falkirk Council is a partner in the Supplier Development Programme which provides free procurement advice to SMEs.” Article provided by Nina Rosandic, Dealer Support, Intelligent Media