Small stones make for big business

Small stones make for big business

ROCKS are big at Hosting and Datacentre Services (HdS), and form an integral core of the company’s culture — even if they may cause concern on international flights.

“I can’t take my rock in my cabin baggage so I take a sort of mini-rock because I can’t function without it,” says Roger Cockayne, HdS chief executive. “The first time I tried to take it through customs I was told I couldn’t, so the captain ended up carrying it for me and gave it back at the other end.”

Everyone at HdS has a rock with their name on it that is used at all staff meetings and it has a value, now around $900.

“We have a rock meeting every six months and they go up in value. It’s our way of giving the staff a little share of the business. That’s when we tell the staff where the company is going and how it will get there and give them the chance to have their say.”

Cockayne admits it might sound corny and cute but insists that a good culture sits at the heart of his company.

“Culture isn’t an option for us, we work with so many different companies that it has to be right internally, which then flows over into external relationships.”

HdS also has strong company values, as do most businesses, but Cockayne says the difference is that his staff stick to them.

“We remind each other in meetings if something or someone isn’t sticking to the values. Talk to any of my staff and they all know what’s expected of them, where the company is going and how they are supposed to treat people.”

With such a solid base to grow from Cockayne believes his company will move away from being a niche player to becoming more mainstream within the next year, including releasing its own products, though he insists HdS will continue to be bespoke.

“We really enjoy it and are quite customer intimate in that way. It’s not a case of money at all costs. Now a lot of companies will claim that at managerial level but it doesn’t come across at a sales level which is a massive disappointment in the IT industry.”

He says that every HdS sale starts with a relationship, then a solution, then the deal and if it doesn’t go in that order then it probably won’t go ahead.

Cockayne readily admits he has two loves in life, aside from his family — motorbikes and the Doncaster Rovers football team.

“HdS spends money on sponsoring children’s charities which reflects our core values, but if it were left to me I’d sponsor Doncaster to come down here and show people how to play football, or set up a bike racing team.”

He adds that his management team has put the kybosh on that idea and instead wants to keep helping children.

Cockayne has a long history with motorbikes, though he has waved goodbye to racing himself and instead enjoys the sport as a spectator. “It’s a sign of the times I suppose; I’ve even sold my bike and bought a tractor. I can’t do wheelies on it but I did manage to overturn it the other week and only got saved by the skin of my teeth.”

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