Established in 2006 with the core purpose of creating connections to enhance lives, Marble Group is an Australian recruitment agency with a difference. Founders Gary Denton and Lee Corbitt built the company from the ground up, and today Marble provides temporary and permanent staffing solutions to specialised market sectors within the construction and property, design, engineering, infrastructure and resources industries. Its 800 clients include Australian and international brands such as Aecom, Masterton, Kane, Mirvac and Euroline.
Gary Denton on giving recruitment a shake-up
Managing Director Gary says Marble was born out of a need for a new way of thinking in recruitment. “Our industry is relatively straightforward, but what flows through our business is the inherent desire to be the kind of recruiter our clients and candidates want us to be – great to deal with, high on detail, and able to deliver.
“We keep our business exciting, fun and dynamic, and we know our markets inside out,” says Gary. With 70 employees across four offices in Sydney, Melbourne, Perth and Brisbane, Marble helps employ more than 400 contractors each week.
“Many of the bigger recruitment agencies are pulled by the invisible strings of a listed company and their focus has shifted to people as commodities. They forget they’re in the people business and how important it is to be a business with a heart.”
Marble’s every action is geared towards achieving its Big Hairy Audacious Goal (BHAG) – to enhance the lives of 50,000 people by 2026. “After starting in 2016, we just hit the 5,000 lives mark, and we are aiming to smash through the 10,000 mark within the next 18 months,” says Gary.
Getting to the heart of Marble Group's success
After doubling its turnover during the 2008 global financial crisis, three years ago Marble’s growth plateaued. “We were staying at the same number of staff and we were delivering the same kind of revenue. It’s very common that when a business reaches around 50 staff, they tend to hit a plateau where it can be hard to grow and expand past that. I knew that we needed to stop, think and work out how to move forward,” says Gary.
The company’s success and growth in recent years has stemmed from two key strategies: simplifying its game to align with what’s truly at the heart of its success, and going deeper to deliver for clients and candidates.
“We realigned ourselves and turned Marble into a business that works from the inside out, rather than from the outside in, staying true to our core purpose and values. At our heart, it’s how we leave people feeling that is the truest measure of our success. We have established beautiful rhythms within the business that allow everyone to stay aligned with the present and future success of the company,” says Gary.
It’s how we leave people feeling that is the truest measure of our success.
“We are also in the process of growing our client base from 800 to 1,000 across 10 Australian offices. Every time we hit a milestone, we celebrate as a team and everyone is aligned with that purpose.”
Following another record year in 2017, Gary believes that these goals are easily within reach. Marble has been listed in BRW’s Top 50 Places to Work in Australia and has been recognised as one of the country’s fastest-growing companies on six occasions, most recently in the AFR’s 2017 Fast 100.
Despite these notable accomplishments, Gary believes, Marble’s greatest achievement has been the development of its people and its leadership team. “Throughout our leadership team we enjoy deep and endearing relationships with one another. Our leaders have a real sense of ownership and belief in this exciting journey we’re on. We’re running together, we’ve got each other’s back, and we trust one another. We’ve only got one commodity, and that’s our people. That’s what we are for our clients – we’re a pure service model.
“Many of our staff had no previous experience in recruitment when they came to Marble. We hire based on talent over experience every time, and seeing those leaders grow and harness their shared knowledge to develop successful teams has been a beautiful thing. The same people have been in the business for years on end and we love that.”
A high-performance, innovative engine
Innovation is always at the forefront of Marble’s thinking. Gary promotes a fun and dynamic work environment, encouraging staff to take ownership of their workspaces to allow maximum fulfilment.
“For me, there are three things that underpin a person’s career: having a sense of purpose; moving towards a greater sense of self-mastery; and feeling safe and supported. If we deliver on those three things, then we won’t go far wrong,” says Gary.
“Our goal has been to maintain a point of difference that we can preserve. We have reverse-engineered the candidate–client experience to identify key ‘moments of truth’ where the client or candidate feels as though they really want us in their corner. These moments occur when we prove our worth, create a sense of assurance, and exceed their expectations to deliver an outstanding experience. It’s the same as going into a restaurant with the expectation of getting a bread roll and a glass of water and quick table service. If one of these elements is lacking – maybe they deliver your dinner late – then they’ve failed to meet your expectations and you remember it as a disappointing experience.
Marble lives and breathes 5 core values:
- Challenge the norm
- Detail is the difference
- Best intentions
- Turn up, turn on
- Support like family
“This is a part of how we look at the way we deliver to our clients and candidates. We make sure we have an assurance of expectations right the way through. By achieving this, we create a strong referral culture throughout the business. We put strong emphasis on our Net Promoter Score and we’re currently running at around 45%. We want this to reach at least 50% in the next few years.
“Over the past few years, we’ve transformed our business model into a high-performance engine that everyone across the company knows how to maintain. Within each function of the business, every person has a 90-day goal. At the end of each quarter, we have a reset day when we discuss our key learnings, achievements and reset for the next 90 days. It’s incredible how much we achieve by setting just a small number of key objectives,” explains Gary.
Organisations don't change; people do
Marble Group believes that organisations don’t change; people do. That’s why Gary has made investing in leadership such a valued, important part of the company’s journey. All emerging Marble leaders have the opportunity to take part in the Marble LDP, a tailored leadership development program facilitated by a leading international business coach. Value champions, culture chiefs, thought leaders, business coaches and meeting drivers are some of the roles and responsibilities of Marble leaders.
Marble aims to recruit great people first and great recruitment consultants second. “We live and breathe our key business values, and we have dozens of acknowledgments, incentives and awards to recognise staff performance. We believe in a high level of acknowledgment for the hard work of our team. Our people are Marble – they’re the ones who are delivering for the business day-in, day-out.”
To complement this offering, Marble engages like-minded suppliers through mutually beneficial arrangements. “We partner with a number of external suppliers to increase the speed of our delivery. We look for suppliers who share a similar story to ours. They are young, fresh, innovative, and focused on the outcome of the planet and its people.”
With an absolute focus on specialisation, Marble listens closely to organisations to gain a better understanding of their business structure, operations, vision and culture. By understanding that companies recruit people, not CVs, Marble has developed a number of processes to ensure it goes beyond the CV when it comes to candidate selection.
The future is growth
Over the next five years, Marble aims to achieve a turnover of A$100 million and establish more offices across the country. “We are experiencing massive organic growth in Australia, but New Zealand is very much on the cards, and we look forward to crossing the Tasman when the time is right,” says Gary.
Despite the technological revolution taking over many aspects of human talent, Gary believes that at the end of the day people like to deal with other people. “Of course, technological developments such as behavioural analytics are always going to add value to our service offering, but there’s no substitute for having someone in the middle who really understands their market,” says Gary.
“We’ve become storytellers within the industry. The strength and identity of the Marble brand is founded in the success stories we have created when we exceeded the expectations of our various clients and candidates.”
We’ve become storytellers within the industry.
The rate of change within the employment sector is rapid, and Marble understands that without a ‘two ears, one mouth’ approach, companies will struggle to keep pace with heightened expectations of organisations and job seekers alike.
“The recruitment industry moves quickly and there’s no mystery to it anymore. Everyone has access to LinkedIn or their own professional recruitment database. Client expectations are rising and jobseekers have never been more informed.
“To stay ahead of the game, we need to be consistently looking into the future, to what’s next, and asking: ‘How can we deliver even more to our markets in the next six months?’ ”
1. Run your business from the inside out; get clear on your ‘why’ and your values.
2. Place your number one focus on people and leadership development.
3. Align the entire business with a small number of key objectives.
In fact, Gary was pleasantly surprised when he attended the 2017 US Global Staffing Conference in San Diego. “Usually, the US will lead the way on all things technology, but there was nothing there that frightened us. We are extremely well positioned for the future,” he says.
“Soon to enter the recruitment market is predictive analytics, which will analyse previously successful hiring patterns for candidates across multiple channels, as well as a greater automation in search technology. We will also see the introduction of deeper levels of recruiting intelligence and socially integrated tracking technologies, and we’re planning to implement these initiatives in the years ahead.”
Inside the mind of a leader
“I believe that the truest measure of success is how you feel about yourself inside,” Gary notes. Every day, Gary draws inspiration from his favourite poem, The Man in the Glass, which teaches integrity and honesty.
“It tells you to be your own best friend and your own hero in the future. If you’re not true to yourself and you’re not acting with the best intentions, then you’re not going to feel fulfilled; you’re not going to be the best version of yourself.”
If you’re not true to yourself and you’re not acting with the best intentions, then you’re not going to feel fulfilled.
To perform at his best, each day Gary practises transcendental meditation and focuses on being grateful. “I do The Five-Minute Journal every day, and it’s fantastic for aligning all things you should be happy about in your life. There’s very few things in life that truly matter, and most of the stuff we stress about just isn’t important,” says Gary.
“Someone once told me ‘slow is smooth, and smooth is fast’. This means not trying to get everything done all at once. You need to take your time, pick your battles, deliver on your promises, and then move to the next challenge. We have definitely tried to embrace this way of thinking right throughout the business.”
Gary is also a firm believer in supporting the community, and he has aligned the success of the company with giving back. “Marble supports organisations including Youth Off The Streets, World Vision, Camp Quality, Diabetes Australia, and the Ronald McDonald House. It’s incredibly rewarding,” he says.
“We also recently donated A$10,000 to a number of people who work closely with Marble. That’s everybody from a dear friend of the Marble family who was unwell to one of our contractors who fell upon hard times. The ability to give something positive directly to an individual and to feel and see the impact is a powerful thing.”