Peter Boucher is the 47-year-old chief executive officer of Excalibur in Swindon which provides telephony and IT solutions to small and medium sized businesses across the UK. He lives in Winchester with his wife, three children, two dogs and five chickens and has a clear vision for the future of this £8million turnover company. He’s taken the helm at the company from the now chairman – James Phipps.
When did your relationship with Excalibur begin?
It was actually some time ago. James and I met when I worked with Vodafone and we have a lot in common. I’m the son of an Army officer and he’s the son of a vicar and we found we share many of the same ethics in life and in business. I actually became a non-executive director in 2013 before becoming CEO. James still wants involvement in Excalibur however he wants to pursue other interests and trusts me to take the company forward into the future.
Share a little of your background
As I said, I’m the son of an Army officer so Wiltshire and Hampshire have been a big part of my life – particularly Wilton. I have admiration for the military and the way in which soldiers respect each other regardless of rank. I went to Cambridge University to study geography and then had various roles including selling drinks to corner shops as a sales person – I learned very quickly that having a degree from a posh university is not a passport to success.
I have run my own business previously, however when I had a family I decided to go down the corporate route as part of a ten-year personal plan to have some security for them and I had a fantastic time working for Vodafone. This included working in Budapest. However, when the ten years were up, I started to consider doing other things. I even worked for Addison Lee in London just as Uber was beginning to make its mark in the city. Excalibur became part of my life as a non-exec director and when James approached me about becoming CEO as part of a management buy-out, I jumped at the chance as I already knew the business and agreed with their ethics.
What are those ethics?
To partner, to be together, to serve and to learn.
My wife’s grandfather wrote the John Lewis partnership agreement – and I admire that model and the way in which that brand values its team. Excalibur strives to do the same. This year we’ve been named FSB Employer of the Year and we’re in the Sunday Times Top 100 employers for the second year running, so we’re doing something right!
At Excalibur we don’t have staff, we have partners. We have partners who understand the goals of the business and work together to achieve them. We value our staff and we want them to develop and grow – and why shouldn’t they expect that? We spend so much of our lives working – why wouldn’t we want to work in an environment which values and looks after us? Where we actually matter?
If we hit our targets, every partner will benefit with a financial reward. Indeed, we’ve got a ‘Wall of Dreams’ where partners have shared what they will do with their reward – every partner will get the same regardless of job role. The range is huge – from a dream holiday, to a dream car, to raising money for charity. That wall alone reflects the ethos of Excalibur.
Charity and community are also a huge part of our ethos. A business, in my view, cannot just be a business. It’s about people and being part of a community. In March we held a charity event to cycle around the world in 80 days – all from our office in Swindon. Staff and anyone in the community came into the office and cycled a mile (or more) on bikes we installed to help us achieve that goal. From this we donated a pound a mile to be shared between regional charities focussing on mental health.
We’ve also made a commitment to staff – subject to a few ts & cs – who raise money outside of work for charities of their choice – that for every pound they raise, we’ll give them £2. We want our staff to give back to the community too and we will try to support them in doing so.
What are your business goals?
Our goal is to scale up the business through natural organic and careful acquisition of businesses with a similar ethos and by being excellent at what we do. Currently we have a turnover of about £8million with profits at about £1.3m. We aim to double that business over the next three years and triple it in five years. We currently have about 60 staff and we are all invested in and working towards those goals.
Won’t this take you away from being a local business?
All businesses are local to somewhere, however big or small. Big brands often forget this important fact – we don’t and we won’t. We are proud to be based in Swindon and we are proud to be a regional company. When we consider acquisitions, we’ll look at that community ethic very carefully. Our aim is to look to about an hour’s radius of Swindon and I often refer to our potential reach as the ‘4Bs’ – having a brand which reaches Bristol, Birmingham, Bracknell and Bournemouth.
What else are you involved with?
It’s been great. If I had my time again I would have done it sooner. I pinch myself that I’m finally doing what I wanted to do. I feel there are unlimited possibilities, the internet isn’t going out of fashion and there’s so much more to come.
I have a few regrets in life – that I didn’t spend some time in the Army and that I didn’t read history at Cambridge (which was my real passion).
This role now is what it’s all about for me, this is it for me, this is what I will do for the rest of my career.
Visit Excalibur online at: www.excaliburcomms.co.uk