Jamaica Gleaner / Audrey Hinchcliffe has created a new division at her firm Manpower & Maintenance Services Limited to handle the cleaning jobs flowing in from the business process outsourcing, or BPO, sector.
She has also hired a manager to oversee that arm of the operation, which currently serves five companies, one of which operates from 11 locations.
It’s all part of the company’s growth initiative amid Hinchcliffe’s determination to scale her business even as she makes plans for a successor after 27 years at the helm as CEO.
Hinchcliffe and her son currently run the business, but the family wants to devise a plan that is in the best interest of the firm, amid plans to eventually take the company public and list on the stock market.
By the end of 2018, Manpower would have invested $35 million as it positions to double its BPO client base to 10 companies, according to Hinchcliffe.
“We have someone hired to be the BPO manager and to drive business in the area,” she told the Financial Gleaner in an interview this week.
The BPO sector, at last report, had 53 registered companies and accounted for more than 26,000 jobs. While companies span several urban centres, Montego Bay is still the most popular locale for operators even as others such as Portmore and Kingston are ascending.
To meet the need of clients in the sector, Manpower relocated from East Street at the centre of the city of Montego Bay to the Sagicor Freeport Commercial Centre, which sits close to BPO businesses operating from within and in proximity to the Montego Bay Free Zone.
In Kingston, where Manpower’s own headquarters is based, the company has added warehouse space at a different locale – leased premises at Brentford Road.
Hinchcliffe said her company is eyeing Kingston as a source of new BPO cleaning contracts as the sector was also rapidly expanding in the capital.
The cleaning and training operations linked to the BPO contracts now deliver around nine per cent of revenue for Manpower, whose turnover is just under $1 billion annually. Hinchcliffe adds that the BPO segment is also employing growing numbers of Manpower’s 1,800 contracted workforce.
Manpower cleans more than 250 locations nationwide, on behalf of around 200 clients, and that business brings in 80 per cent of revenue.”
“It is still the bedrock of the business,” Hinchcliffe said.
Human resources and placements brings in 15 per cent of revenues, she added. The BPO share of revenue straddles some of the contribution from the cleaning jobs and training services.
Hinchcliffe said the company has bounced back from a period six years ago when some contracted companies closed their accounts. In 2011, Manpower employed a staff of 1,400 for clients that included commercial companies, hotels, hospitals, the wharves and airports. Facilities maintenance, including washroom supplies continues to grow at a rapid pace – 12 per cent overall in 2017 – especially with new construction and business expansion, she said.
Training BPO workers
Now the company is bigger, and is itself venturing into direct training of call centre workers under contract with HEART Trust/NTA. The first cohort of 60 workers completed the three-week or 120-hour course, and another 60 are soon to enter training.
“We are training BPO workers at entry level. HEART is subcontracting the training to several agencies of which our company, IWED, is one as an accredited training organisation under NCTVET. We have the full training facility, including computer labs, required,” Hinchcliffe said.
IWED, the Institute for Workforce Placement and Education, is planning to add another component to the programme – ‘upskilling’ or training of existing workers for management roles. The company is also training janitors under an initiative with the Ministry of Education.
Manpower has found other new ways to make money, by providing seasonal labour through its special services division to large operations, as well as laundry services and procurement of supplies for a small number of clients. Manpower contracted around 100 cashiers and packers during the Christmas season to companies, including PriceSmart, said the CEO and company founder.
No offshore expansion
Hinchcliffe established Manpower in 1990, and while the company has expanded over time, it has not expanded offshore into other markets. The group includes subsidiaries Manpower & Maintenance Placement Agency Limited, the Institute for Workforce Placement and Education, or IWED, Manpower & Maintenance Special Services Limited, and Manpower & Maintenance Services Foundation. The BPO and human resources outsourcing segment falls under Manpower & Maintenance Special Services.
“We have copyrighted ourselves here and in a few other islands, but we are not operating overseas yet,” Hinchcliffe said.
The company still sees scope for growth within Jamaica, and is eyeing opportunities in Montego Bay, Portmore, Half-Way Tree and downtown Kingston, New Kingston, and the University of the West Indies. It is also watching developments in Mandeville.
Last year, Manpower restructured its operations under five main pillars facilities and maintenance; BPO; human resources outsourcing; training and development; and business and consumer solutions each of which is managed by a divisional director to ensure “cohesive management”.
Hinchcliffe, who turned 78 in January, still aims to list her company on the Jamaica Stock Exchange, when the time is right, but is focusing on growth projects for now as well as quality improvements to eventually become ISO-compliant. A consultant was also hired to revamp Manpower’s finances.
Succession, however, is on her mind and the Hinchcliffe family is in the process of devising a succession plan.
“We have considered the matter of a co-CEO – for someone else to come in and learn the business,” she said. “We have someone in-house working with us and looking at what would be the best fit for management towards the time I take my exit.”
Hinchcliffe said she would likely remain as chairman when a new CEO takes her seat.
Asked why her son, Garth Hinchcliffe, who is deputy CEO with responsibility for new business development and finance, was not the automatic choice, Hinchcliffe said the company did not want to fall into the trap that has befallen other family-run operations – which are “self-limiting” by their nature – and wanted to plot out the best course for the business.
“It does not mean he is not the best choice …,” she said. “The planning is internal, but we are researching the best solution. The business is very complex,” she added.
JAMAICA: Hinchcliffe weighs successor for Manpower amid growth push
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