Interface NRM marks 20th Anniversary

Interface NRM marks 20th Anniversary

Have you seen us in the Shropshire Star this week? On Tuesday they published an article as Interface NRM marked our 20th anniversary.

Interface is twenty years old!

Now an Employee-Owned company, let’s reflect on Interface’s potted history.

Before the era of 3G and smartphones, back in the year 2000, Dr. Gavin Jordan and Mike Greenland decided to start a consultancy company as their individual international contracts came to an end.

Gavin had been managing the forestry component of a large European Union project in Bhutan, and Mike was acting Head of Department at a forestry college in South Africa.

In 2002 Gavin returned to the UK. With a desire to continue his career in Natural Resource Management, he established Interface NRM. It wasn’t long after that Mike also returned to the UK sporting a nice suntan from his time in South Africa and reunited with Gavin.

Alongside many other start-ups, they started off with just a desk and a modem in the ‘business incubator’, a shared workspace within Wolverhampton’s Science Park. Quickly outgrowing the incubator, they moved into their own small office and started to deliver a series of significant consultancy works for government agencies, private companies and international organisations. Interface became a flourishing consultancy, with Mike, Gavin, and a small pool of associates.

Despite the work of Interface being well received and highly regarded, Gavin and Mike became increasingly disillusioned with the complicated and time-consuming tendering process for large public-sector organisations. It was clear that no consideration was given to a company’s previous performance, it appeared they were selected purely on price. Clients, particularly in the EU and UN organisations, would have to purchase services they knew were not up to scratch from the lowest bidder.

Most of the work Mike and Gavin had been involved in with their consultancy was based around quality and environmental processes and systems, including chain of custody, quality management, environmental management, and certification processes. Gavin was conducting a lot of international work on management certification, and Mike was running a complex internal audit programme for a large UK timber importer.

After eight busy years of consulting, enduring the pains of tendering and re-tendering for public-sector work, and experiencing the pain of poor customer service from external certification bodies, Gavin and Mike chose to make the logical, yet daunting, step to remodel Interface as the UK’s top-rated Certification Body. A major driver behind the change was the ability to build up a solid base of clients. Reason suggested that if a client liked the service and support they received, they would keep coming back which would mean Interface would achieve recurring revenue with no requirement to re-tender.

Much of 2011 was dedicated to developing the processes and systems required to run a Certification Body.

The United Kingdom Accreditation Service visited for the first time in 2012, and Interface was awarded UKAS accreditation to provide ISO 9001 and 14001 certification. With a growing workforce needed to service an expanding client base, Interface relocated to the e-Innovation centre at the University of Wolverhampton campus in Telford, where we are still headquartered today. A small yet dedicated client base quickly developed, who were clearly pleased by the level of customer focus and Interface’s supportive auditing style.

Over the next few years, ISO 45001 certification and FSC & PEFC Chain of Custody certification became additional Interface services, building on our forestry and natural resources heritage. In early 2017 we partnered with our first international partner, Vireo Srl, based in Padova, Italy. Vireo is highly regarded for its environmental certification activities and has helped expand our client base outside of the UK.

As Interface continued to grow in size and reputation, we were increasingly approached by other Certification Bodies and venture capital companies as a potential acquisition. Mike, Gavin, and the Interface team felt that this threatened the unique level of customer satisfaction and customer-driven approach on offer to our clients. As a team, we decided to take a different approach: transition to an employee-owned company. Interface became employee-owned in late 2020, and we are a member of the Employee Ownership Association.

Last year Interface celebrated its 1000th certification client! The client portfolio continues to grow, ensuring business stability and continuity through developing new services such as carbon certification whilst keeping totally focused on client satisfaction. What started with just Gavin and Mike has developed into a force of more than 23 core staff and a pool of over 40 associates. Part of the transition of implementing the employee-ownership is the current mentoring and handover of core responsibilities as Gavin and Mike hand over the reins to a senior leadership team within Interface.

Interface is confident that the service we have offered and continue to offer is the best in the UK, verifiable on Trustpilot with over 850 excellent reviews. The move to employee ownership is proving successful and provides a good working environment and a highly motivated team, who are looking forward to propelling Interface forward and into the next 20 years!

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