As businesses continue to leverage the power of globalization to improve performance, the role of sourcing goods and services from suppliers has become unavoidable. Furthermore, procurement is evolving into a more strategic function that is more aligned with organizational goals and objectives. Additionally, factors such as economic and political volatility, technological disruption, and so on have made the market extremely competitive. As a result, it is critical for organizations to locate cooperative-type sourcing agencies in order to maximize business performance and efficiency and gain a competitive advantage over their peers.
CMSourcing is one such agency in the Geophysical and Hydrographic survey industry that is equipped with the most diverse pool of personnel with expert local knowledge to appropriately suit your organization’s needs. The agency has a global coverage making it convenient for both businesses and contractors.
In an exclusive interview with Insights Success, Mike McLean, the Operations Director, and Founder at CMSourcing, talks in detail about the comprehensive offerings and services of his company and shares some valuable insights from its niche industry.
Kindly tell our audience about CMSourcing, its inception, and its journey till now.
In 2012, my business partner Dave Cullen and I were working as contract personnel and found ourselves on the same project offshore Greenland. At the time, the common issue with contracting in the survey industry was the lack of quality options for agency representation.
One day over a few drinks, we started to discuss the possibility of building an agency from scratch with the contractor’s welfare at its core using our personal knowledge of contracting. We decided to try and build an agency to support contractors rather than shareholders. Over the ensuing ten years, we’ve built a company around our own set of morals working as ethically as possible, always having the needs of our contractors and the project execution as our priority.
For the first five years, Dave and I continued to work offshore alongside growing our core team at CMSourcing. We always felt like seeing and working with our contractors was the key to understanding where they would be best suited within a client’s project.
From 2017, our business growth had outpaced our ability to effectively run the company remotely, so we gave up offshore work and hired a small team, who are still with us today. We felt that customer service was more important than growth, so we have grown organically in the years since, always achieving significant growth whilst maintaining a high level of customer service.
Please tell us about the services and offerings that you facilitate for your clients. What are the services that make CMSourcing stand apart in the survey personnel market?
Our main service is the supply of contract personnel for the offshore renewable energy market, focusing on hydrographic and UXO surveys. Where we differ from our competition is that we don’t hire recruiters in the traditional sense. Our senior staff members are all from within the industry, offering a unique ability to place the correct candidate into the ideal role for the client to ensure project success.
Expanding on our services, we recently opened our sister company CMGeomatics which works with our clients and end clients to process and interpret hydrographic data using their own staff and CMSourcing’s pool of personnel.
Kindly tell us about the mission, vision, and core values of CMSourcing.
Our mission is to be the agency of choice for clients and contractors through efficiency, quality, integrity, transparency, and education. We nurture our relationships by sharing our knowledge with contractors and survey companies alike, gained through decades of cumulative industry experience.
What are your USPs? Please also tell us the story of how you decided to transition to a 100% renewable energy company.
Our unique selling point is that the majority of our senior staff are from within the industry. Something we say to our clients is ‘ask yourself whom you would rather turn to for support. A recruitment specialist who recognizes survey buzz words or a survey specialist who can accurately understand complicated requests and easily decide who is best suited to fulfill the requirement.
With the rise of renewable energy in Europe, Dave and I found ourselves more and more on renewable energy projects, so most of our experience towards the end of our offshore career was in offshore wind farms. We also felt we have a strong moral obligation to transition away from fossil fuels.
We feel that if more companies started doing this, it would certainly make the world a better place. In addition to that, a good number of oil-rich nations have poor track records for human rights, and we have never felt comfortable profiting from or helping others profit from those nations.
Mike, please tell our audience about how you and your company have helped enhance the survey contract personnel industry.
From day one, we have always been very open and honest with everyone involved in the business, from clients to contractors. Unfortunately, based on the general distrust of agencies, which historically is well deserved, this message took a long time to take root. But now, I think it’s fair to say that we are globally recognized as being the most trustworthy agency in the sector.
We’re very pleased to report that our ethics and reputation for honesty are starting to change the relationship between contractors and agencies, and the view is far less like an agency is ‘the boss’ and more like a supplier whom the contractor chooses to pay for professional representation, as it should be.
Tell us about your expansion in Boston and other feats/plans of expansion that you may have.
Over the course of 2019, our US client base grew steadily, and we felt it was important to have a local base to fully understand not just regional differences but also cultural. The industry is fast-moving, and with a 5-hour time difference, it is very difficult to provide the level of customer service that clients and contractors deserve.
The obvious choice would have been Houston, where a lot of survey companies are based, but we really wanted to focus on renewable energy, which is based in the North East. After visiting several cities in the North East, we really felt at home in Boston. Since deciding that Boston was our US base, we found our regional manager there who is currently trying to build the team, which is obviously a challenge in today’s market.
With regards to expansion, as the wind industry moves over to the west coast, it would be a natural next step based on the time zones and regional differences to have an office on the west coast. Our future in the USA is a very exciting one for us, and we feel like that is the future of the company.
Considering the COVID-19 pandemic and its impact on global economies, what were the challenges faced by your company’s doors, and how did you pivot from those challenges?
COVID-19, without a doubt, raised an entirely fresh set of challenges to the recruitment industry as a whole as well as the whole of the global survey industry where people are traveling all over the world to join vessels based on their particular skill set.
With every country having its own entry requirements, keeping on top of the current legislation has become a full-time job. Our resolution was to create robust procedures for each step from testing to travel to border control. We feel with our quick response to the ever-changing environment, we have kept ahead of the worst of the pandemic and, in fact, have seen a 40% revenue increase post-COVID-19.
What would you like to advise the budding entrepreneurs and enthusiasts who aspire to venture into the survey personnel space?
There are two top tips for anyone wanting to venture into survey personnel. Firstly, know the industry inside and out; nobody will ever be happy working for someone that doesn’t fully understand the role. We are dealing with highly qualified professionals, and they see right through someone looking to make a quick profit from their hard work.
Secondly, don’t overthink everything. Starting a business is a learning curve, and it definitely gets harder before it gets easier. The key is not to try and go it alone; you need a partner to bounce ideas off of, to gain second opinions on business decisions, and for support when you are not physically able to do it.
How do you envision scaling CMSourcing’s operations and business in 2022 and beyond?
Given our unwillingness to just become like our competition, hiring recruiters straight out of recruitment school, scaling is sometimes a challenge. Our reputation grew faster than anticipated, and historically we have been behind the curve on staffing levels, but we are now in a good position that we have built a very strong team both in the UK and the US. With this team, we are on target for a record 2022 and beyond.
Exhibiting True Excellence
- “I worked nine years full-time for an offshore company where I built my career. After I started as a freelancer, I met many companies that filled my email asking for my certificates and documents for job offers that did not happen, and I did not know the reasons for it either until I met CMSourcing. With them, the job offers gained value for me; when I receive one that comes from CMSourcing, I know that I am not just another email address in the receipt. Transparency in contracts through CMSourcing has made me understand better how the offshore market works, and for that, I thank you.” – Robert Ayan
- “I have been working with CMSourcing for quite some time now and found them to be the best to work with. When the work is there, they get me good day rates and with few hassles.” – Chris Wood
- “I have been freelancing with CM Sourcing for over a year now, and I have found them to be a very professional and competent company; they have got me regular and good quality work. Their staff is friendly, courteous, and hardworking. I would definitely recommend CM Sourcing to anybody looking to get freelance work in the offshore energy sector.” – Chris Murdoch