In April 2020, our founder and Managing Director, Jeff Eamens, was featured in The Cheshire Magazine’s ‘Leaders of the Pack’ article, along with three other local business leaders. Check out his Q&A below or click here to read the full April issue.
Jeff Eamens, Managing Director at Challenger Business Communications
I established Challenger, along with Wayne Skellon, in 1991 in response to the explosion in demand for high quality business communications. Since then, the business has gone from strength to strength and is now one of the largest independent B2B Telecoms specialists in the UK, and is one of O2’s top five partners nationally.
Specialising in delivering a wide range of communications technology, products and services to UK businesses, Challenger are focused on providing tailor made solutions to meet every need from business mobiles to VoIP, hosted services, vehicle tracking, lone worker protection and more.
What led you into your industry?
I was a mechanical engineer for 11 years when an opportunity to go into sales presented itself, selling radio pagers! It was clear from how pagers were increasing in popularity that mobile phones would be the logical evolution and next big thing, so I established Challenger to supply the market with what it demanded. Having started with only three staff members, I am proud to now employ over 60!
Who was an early business inspiration for you?
I think many people have influenced my path in business, however, one person stands out as example – Richard Branson. Starting from nothing, being dyslexic and having no real qualifications meant he had to work hard for success. Despite his shortcomings, he managed to build one of the most vibrant and exciting British businesses today.
What’s the best piece of business advice you’ve ever received?
My dad taught me to lead by example. It builds trust and respect. As the head of successful business you have to demonstrate that you’re prepared to do the work yourself. Often this means being first-in and last-out and being engaged in whatever task you’re undertaking at that moment. Get up early, clean your overalls, polish your shoes, do each task quickly and, when done, ask for more.
What’s the secret of great leadership?
Listen. Trust. Delegate, and above all, treat people with fairness and honesty. Listen to what people have to say. Having the right answer is more important than having all the answers. Delegate responsibility and trust your people to make the right decisions. Be fair and honest with your team. They’ll appreciate the openness and being a straight shooter will earn you a good reputation.
What’s the most significant leadership lesson you’ve learnt?
The easiest thing to do isn’t the right thing to do. Doing the right thing is typically the hardest!
Has there been a truly pivotal moment for the business?
April 2019 was a huge moment for Challenger. We went through a management buy-out to become a truly independent business with a refreshed set of goals that focused us on moving in the right direction with nothing to hold us back.
Which areas of the business will you focus on in 2020?
We’re laser-focused on moving the business forward to better serve our growing client base, and meeting (and exceeding) their needs.
Internally, we’re focused on employees being happy and secure at work. We introduced a new annual summer party, Challfest, where the whole team got together to celebrate our exciting future.
Externally, we’re working with Rowan Marketing to improve touchpoints – a new website, brand reposition, digital marketing and social are just some of the activities undertaken to grow current business and welcome new customers onboard too. Plus, we’re working with Absolutely Design to make our offices brighter, more engaging spaces for staff to enjoy.
We feel it’s critical we reduce our environmental impact too – our new fleet cars are Tesla, and we’re having solar panels installed in summer to reduce our carbon footprint as much as we possibly can. Owning and living on a farm in Wales has truly made me socially aware and conscious of this wonderful fragile planet we live on, and I do my bit to leave it better than I found it.