Mike Stephens, Director at English County Contracts Ltd

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When English County Contracts was established in 1995 Mike turned to Neil Houghton for advice and support to help set it up and there began a relationship that has successfully continued ever since.

As the business evolved and grew and through several personnel changes Mike continued to consult Neil and his team members whenever he needed help.

The hard work and the advice paid off and by 2012 ECC was a fully established family run business with both of Mike’s sons having joined him in the business. The company moved to its current location and with advice from Neil, Mike was able to hand on the day to day running of the business, and free himself to focus on fine tuning the financial performance of the company. He adopted a strategy to improve margins by using a well-managed cash flow to continuously improve relations with his key suppliers. The strategy worked and ECC is now the largest contract flooring business in the South West.

Neil Houghton of Astrum remains a key advisor but most of the day to day work is handled by one of the team who spends at least one day per month at ECC’s offices. Astrum have helped ECC incorporate QuickBooks into their business systems and eliminate any duplication of work between them and Astrum.

Having worked with Neil for over 20 years it would be understandable if Mike was nervous when Neil announced his plan to join with Astrum. However, Mike now says that the ‘move was seamless’ and that having met Martin Vincent (Astrum MD) he is 100% convinced that the change will only be positive.

‘The team continue to do an absolutely superb job – we expect the best and we get the very best’ said Mike and in relation to the Astrum service overall he says ‘they are our finance team; and they are on top of our accounts and our financial strategy. We rely on their expertise to help us drive our business forward and they meet every aspect of our needs’.

Finally, asked to give Astrum a mark, Mike smiled and said:

‘No question – 6 out of 5 – cannot fault them at all’.

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