The owners of one of the leading names in the UK’s security and facilities management sectors have been named UK regional finalists in the EY Entrepreneur Of The Year programme.
Jamal Tahlil, Edgar Chibaka, co-founders who launched Yorkshire-based First Response Group (FRG) in 2007, and CEO Simon Alderson are shortlisted alongside 30 entrepreneurs from the North of England, representing 25 of the region’s leading businesses.
Established more than 30 years ago, EY Entrepreneur Of The Year is a unique global programme that recognises entrepreneurial achievement among individuals and companies that demonstrate vision, leadership and success – and work to improve the quality of life in their communities, countries and around the world.
Leeds based First Response Group provides specialist security, risk and facilities management solutions to private and public sector clients across a wide range of industries including construction, utilities and infrastructure, commercial property management, industrial and manufacturing, and leisure and hospitality.
As an ACS Pacesetter, First Response Group is ranked in the top 15% of firms accredited by the Security Industry Authority’s ‘Approved Contractor Scheme’ and holds 4 coveted NSI (National Security Inspectorate) Gold accreditations – most rigorous inspection for businesses operating in the security industry – recognising the business’s dedication to quality, safety and professionalism.
This latest honour comes just a few months after Mr Tahlil and Mr Chibaka were crowned Black British Businesspeople of the Year at the 2021 Black British Business Awards (BBBAs).
Jamal and Edgar, both African immigrants, met while working as security officers for separate firms and spent a decade building a successful guarding services orientated security business built on enthusiasm, commitment and integrity.
Edgar saids: “We had a shared vision to create a safer and more secure working environment where people had the opportunity to build their lives through sustainable and fulfilling employment and businesses are able to operate safely, effectively and efficiently.”
Not content with a successful start-up, the pair believed their vision could be scaled through service expansion into the FM sector and new market penetration. In early 2018 Simon Alderson joined the business as co-owner and CEO to implement a ten-year strategic plan to grow the business organically and via acquisitions.
Simon brought his 20 years’ experience in the international security world to propel the strong foundation and highly credible customer base created by Edgar and Jamal into a leading name in the security industry.
Today the business employs over 1,200 people with offices across the UK and is forecasting revenue of over £30m in 2022, but the original vision has never wavered and in 2021 First Response Group received a Living Wage Foundation Recognised Service Provider Champion Award in recognition of its commitment tackling low pay and developing career pathways across the security industry.
Jamal said: “It has been a long journey to get here, and we are thrilled to be recognised by EY for the dedication shown by the whole of Team FRG to make our shared vision a reality for our workforce, partners and customers. Always believe anything is possible.”
Edgar, who also serves as Executive Board Chairman of the UK Malawi Business Group that fosters bilateral business between the UK and Malawi, added: “It is an honour to be named EY Entrepreneur Of The Year 2022 UK regional finalists representing the entrepreneurial spirit of the North.
“We have built a business which betters the lives of our workforce and is helping to create a more sustainable industry and that deserves to be celebrated.”
Simon said “The extraordinary growth we have seen over the past few years has firmly established First Response Group as a leader in the security and FM industries.
“I am very proud to be part of such an extraordinary journey and excited for a future where we further our mission to provide the best service and innovation by cultivating a culture of inclusion and happiness.”
Ben Wildsmith, EY Entrepreneur Of The Year UK Partner Sponsor in in the North said: “The innovation, leadership and positive societal contribution made by entrepreneurs plays an important role inspiring the next generation of business leaders, today and tomorrow.
“It’s great to welcome this year’s North regional finalists into our entrepreneurial community and to see the range of different industries represented. The innovation shown by these individuals is vital to fuelling growth in the local economy, creating jobs and helping to maintain an entrepreneurial spirit in the North of England.
“The Entrepreneur Of The Year UK programme continues to celebrate the best of the UK’s leading entrepreneurial talent, recognising innovators from across the country, and creating a community of unstoppable entrepreneurs that are positively impacting people and their communities whilst leaving a lasting business legacy.”
Victoria Price, EY’s UK Private Tax Leader and EY Entrepreneur Of The Year UK Partner Lead, said: “Entrepreneurs have and always will be the beating heart of the UK’s economy. The fact this year’s programme has been so tough is testament to the way in which business leaders up and down the country have responded to the challenges posed by the current landscape. Our regional judges have an extremely difficult task ahead of them.”
Four regional judging panels will convene at the end of May, with national finalists set to be announced in September before moving onto national judging days in October. The overall winner of the EY Entrepreneur Of The Year UK will be revealed in November 2022.