Deciding to join a failing business

Having sold up and taken time away from the business world, Sam Ferguson, CEO of EDM Group, explains why taking charge of an under-performing company was a wise choice.

My best business decision was to accept the role of CEO at EDM Group, my current job, which may come as a surprise to some people.

Before I was asked to join EDM, I had been enjoying a sabbatical following the sale of Edotech, which I had grown from a management buy-out to an extremely successful international business.

I joined EDM in September 2006, when it was under-performing and at risk of failure. I strongly believed I could turn the company around as it had huge potential to grow and become the market leader. I wanted to be a part of that, and create a sustainable business that preserved the jobs and careers of staff – many of whom had dedicated years of service to the company.

Decisive, swift actions were necessary and tough decisions were taken to get the structure and cost base of the company right. Importantly for its future growth, the strategy also had to change.

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EDM had focused on its huge document scanning capacity and neglected the real jewels in the crown, which were its technologies and key staff. Leveraging those assets, developing them, and supplementing them with strategic acquisitions, have enabled EDM to bring a uniquely comprehensive suite of information management services to the market.

Despite the recession, EDM is successful, enjoying year-on-year growth of 30 per cent, and new investment from LDC has just allowed us to double our size with the acquisition of a US company.

As a CEO, you and your team are responsible for making hundreds of decisions each year, not all of which may be right. However, I firmly believe that if you focus on meeting the needs of customers and building a sustainable business, the results that ensue, will be enormously worthwhile and rewarding.

Hunter Ruthven

Hunter Ruthven

Hunter was the Editor for from 2012 to 2014, before moving on to Caspian Media Ltd to be Editor of Real Business.

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