A little over three years ago I had an idea for starting my own company. Initially, I wanted to create a security company in my own fashion, one that wasn’t just about profit but more about quality, paying a fair wage, supplying the highest industry standards from a pool of quality individuals already in place and tested.
I saw a big problem immediately – big, established companies cornered the market with low paid, ‘budget’ security staff, with little or no experience. I adapted the plan and so began The Cheshire Group, with the aim of creating an agency to provide luxury services in an area I lived and worked in. Having extensive experience both nationally and internationally working for High Net-Worth Individuals I thought bringing that experience to the North West of England could be achieved.
I’m 34 years old and married with three children. I’ve worked away from my home for most of my career, in the military and private security industry. My overwhelming desire was always to come home, to find a great job and be able to see my family every day. However this didn’t come to pass, so I took the leap of faith and put all my spare time into this company. I created everything from the ground up including building the website, creating and running social media promotions, making contacts, finding clients and recruiting staff – all whilst working days or nights in a full-time job.
That magic job we always yearn for never gets given to you – you have to go and get it, and sometimes you even have to build your own. I found after leaving the military that civilian companies I spoke with were unable to relate to ex-forces personnel. They can have preconceptions before even interviewing them, believing we all suffer from physical or mental conditions that will make us unsuitable for a civilian role. This couldn’t be further from the truth and I know that veterans can have superior skills and qualities, especially in the areas of communication, adaptability, leadership, task completion, planning, preparation, routine, appearance, dedication – and above all, loyalty.
Until recently, military qualifications have been hard to translate into the ‘Civvie’ sector. In my own experience, the resettlement and transition team were found wanting. When I left the army in 2010 after serving eight years (with three tours in Iraq and Afghanistan) I felt abandoned. I tried many different career roles, from the manager at a car dealership to a retained firefighter with a view to becoming a permanent one. None of these came to fruition and I was given a contact for a company in America by a friend.
This is where my security career started and subsequently led me across the middle east, north Africa and western Europe. Steadily, the decline in the industry began, and the standards dropped as fast as the wages. The situation was the same elsewhere as it is here in now the UK, with cheap unskilled labour being preferred over qualified, experienced, highly skilled professionals. I decided that I would endeavour to raise those standards within my company and not lower them due to others’ budgets. (If other companies acted similarly then maybe they could afford to pay a correct wage.)
2016 was a year of heartbreak, to say the least, notably due to the loss of the woman who had been in my life for 32 years. My stepmother was sadly diagnosed with cancer in March that year, and died in the August. She was instrumental in my early life, guiding me through troubled teenage years and into work, then on to college, owning my own garage at 18 years old, and then joining the Army. My joining the army was one of her and my own parents’ proudest days, and I’m often told by friends how much she would gloat that she had a son in the army.
I couldn’t have come through all this work and loss without the most important person in my life, the one who’s literally given me everything so I can achieve my dreams. My wife, who’s raised three children on her own whilst I worked all over the world, and has been my rock. I owe her greatly.
The ambition for the Cheshire Group is to give veterans employment – not charity, but a worthy job for their skill sets, and for our civilian staff, a wage befitting their qualifications. These aims, in such an exclusive industry, set us apart from other similar companies and ensure our leading-industry status.
I hope this gives you an insight into what I and the Cheshire Group stand for.
- Graeme Edwards-Beech