HotSeat – Jake Willcox, Director at Willcox Matthews

Jake Willcox founded technical and engineering recruitment specialists, Willcox Matthews in 2018, alongside two friends and colleagues. We catch up with Jake after a busy year for Willcox Matthews; he is the next PlastikCity Partner to face the HotSeat…

What trends do you think will shape the future of UK plastics?  How will Willcox Matthews respond?

Well, at this point in time, Brexit is on everyone’s minds, and this will no doubt impact the market for the foreseeable future. We’ve had a lot of success at Willcox Matthews in bringing well qualified, Eastern European candidates across to the UK join our clients. Brexit is severely impacting these opportunities for our clients and all engineering firms, which is a real shame as they are vital to our economy and driving business growth. Hopefully, something can be done to ensure we still have a good flow of these professionals coming across to the UK.

There is also a rising demand in the plastics industry for cost savings process simplification – which is being met by automation.

There’s a famous saying in the recruitment world – companies don’t pick the talent anymore; the talent picks you! This is largely due to the latest research showing that the market is 90% candidate-driven. Willcox Matthews will need to stay up to date with all the latest trends & technologies to ensure that we have access to the best talent in the market to support our clients.

How has Willcox Matthews developed during your tenure?

It’s been a crazy 12 months here at WM HQ.

  • We’ve brought on two successful employees, aiming to bring on 1-2 more before Christmas 2019
  • We moved to much larger business premises, to support our growth and company culture
  • We continue to work with new & exciting companies every day
  • We’ve built some truly amazing business relationships and continue to be a plastics recruitment specialist
  • We’ve sponsored a local football club
  • We have also taken part in many charity fundraising events, the latest one we are set to do is the Birmingham half marathon.

We want to continue to build our technical and engineering recruitment division and strive to be the go-to recruitment company for all businesses in the plastics industry.

What do you credit as the key to your success?

Training: The two other directors (Matt & Matthew) and I have all had PTIC training – so we have a real appreciation and understanding of injection moulding.

Experience: The team here now possesses over 25 years of recruitment experience within manufacturing and engineering. So, we have an excellent skill set when it comes to finding the right people for our clients and finding candidates their next career move.

Values: When we set up Willcox Matthews, a big thing for us and what we wanted to try and promote was values. We didn’t want to be a recruitment company that tried to put anyone in any job; our focus is on helping people to develop their careers and support our clients grow their businesses.

Hard work: Very cliché, but in recruitment, you get out what you put in. I’d like to think we all have a great work ethic here – we also enjoy what we do and celebrate all the small successes.

What has been the greatest challenge in your career?

Leaving my previous company and setting up Willcox Matthews!

I take my hat off to anyone who starts their own business. I think I’ve always been one for taking risks and had high expectations of myself, but this was, without a doubt, one of my biggest challenges. I always wanted to implement my ideas and ethos, so it was always in the back of my mind.

All of us are still learning every day, and it’s the best decision I have ever made.

I think the next biggest challenge will be bringing on more employees and ensuring they continue to grow and develop alongside us.

What advice do you wish you’d had on entering the industry and does that differ from the advice you would give to an apprentice joining now?

I wish schools would do more to go into engineering! When I was at school, it seemed the only option I had was to go to university.

I have recently been asked by my old high school to come in and do a presentation – so it will give me a great opportunity to hopefully inspire people to take up an apprenticeship scheme and get into engineering!

What hidden talents do you have?

I can burp the alphabet – what a useless talent!

I can make a good horse noise – again, what a useless talent!

Otherwise, I’d say within work my talents are based around speed and efficiency – I am a proper geek when it comes to helping the team improve their processes and speed. I look after most of the marketing within the business now which I really enjoy, so I think if I wasn’t in recruitment, that would be the career path I’d have taken.


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Willcox Matthews
01905 947 400

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