JM is not a distributor, nor an integrator or reseller – yet every day, hundreds of companies in the UK depend on its services to ensure their AV requirements are met
“We don’t bid for outsourced contracts, we are not competing with integrators and we don’t provide any AV or technical equipment,’ explained JM co-founder and MD, Graeme Massey during our visit to its offices.
So what does it do? The premise of the business is relatively straightforward – at least on the outside.
On the one hand, JM is helping AV professionals to find work – either on a permanent or freelance basis. On the other, it’s helping businesses to quickly find the best people to carry out their AV needs. This could be for a full-time position or on an ad hock basis such as an installation or event.
“We’re a good middleman for end users and those looking for work,” said Graeme. “Some of our clients have an internal team of AV technicians and managers, but they will work with JM as an extension of their team on a freelance or on an ad-hock basis. We’re here when they need us.”
Over the past 15 years, JM has established “hundreds and hundreds” of relationships (partnerships) with qualified and carefully vetted AV professionals working in the UK.
The process, he explained, begins with a CV submission, followed by a formal interview to discuss their qualifications, skillsets and whether they wish to be considered for full time or freelance work. Two years of work references, plus proof of their right to work in the UK are also required.
“Every candidate, must physically come to our office first and meet us,” Graeme explained. “There is no virtual registration here. We adopt best due diligence to ensure the individual is correctly registered, compliant and able to do what they say.”
No job too big or small
Placing people into work is the second string to JM’s bow – currently accounting for 80 per cent of its business. With a data pool of AV professionals, JM works closely with registered companies to help facilitate their AV needs by matching them to an appropriate candidate.
All companies are visited first by a JM team member to gain a clear picture of the organisation. There is no discrimination when it comes to size either, be it a one-man-band or a multinational.
“We will provide a technician to support an hour-long lecture if that’s what’s required,” said Graeme. “On the other end of the scale, we’ll run operations that require teams of people across 52 weeks of the year.”
Graeme explained that growth of the business has been “incredible” and has a long, healthy line-up of customers on its books, each regularly seeking freelancers to carry out their AV work. Clients shown to AVTE, but can’t be named, included leading councils, museums/galleries, banks, retailers and leading social media firms.
JM is currently averaging between 130-150 freelance jobs every week – with around 90 per cent in the London area, although it has clients all over the UK and in some parts of Europe.
The booking process for posting and accepting a job has been “perfected” over “many years” to keep things “simple” for all parties.
Graeme explained that, once registered, clients can post a job directly on its JM platform, which can be white labelled. The client will stipulate the jobs details and can even request specific people to carry out the work.
JM will then facilitate this request with the candidate and client, generating a quote. Once agreed, the booking is confirmed.
“Our intention is for our clients to build a pool of site familiar trained professionals, who they can call upon 24/7 and 365 days a year.
“We’re working with the freelancers in accordance with their proven experience and our intention is to offer them access to our established portfolio of clients.”
He added: “If you’re an AV professional and you’re looking for work, talk to our operations team, send in your CV and arrange a time to come and meet us. Likewise, if you’re an end user and looking for the right people to fulfil your AV needs, please get in touch.”
Future proof your career
Graeme is also happy to provide advice to AV professionals. One of his key messages right now is, that it’s “never too late” to learn new skills. The reason for this, he explained, is due to seeing an increasing number of employers pursuing IT and AV hybrid skilled staff.
JM currently has 829 permanent vacancies listed on its website, but insists “there are more jobs in the AV sector than we can physically fill,” and the extra demands, are making it increasingly difficult for traditional AV technicians to find work.
“Demands are now higher from employers,” said Graeme. “The vacancies registered with us 12 months ago, look very different to what we see today. The AV technician of tomorrow will very much be a hybrid and not just someone that understands AV applications or has a basic knowledge of networking. They will have a strong background in all elements of AV tech that sits on the network, be that broadcasting, video, sound or control technology. The IT demands will only continue to grow and grow.”
Graeme is therefore encouraging people, experienced or just starting off, to boost their qualifications, highlighting CCNA and CTS amongst the most desirable.
“Any formal qualification you can ascertain will be of benefit to your career. I’d never suggest those qualifications supersede experience, but once you’ve secured that qualification, no one is ever taking that away from you. It will help to open doors.”