This year, everyone here at SOS Group is celebrating 20 years of innovation and growth, and celebrating 20 years of supporting local start-ups and large multi-national firms alike to do the same.
Launched in 2002, we have stepped up to meet many challenges and changes over the last two decades, anticipating new client requirements and embracing technological advances.
Set up by directors George Young, Andrew Skelton and John Behan, we were initially based in Felling before moving to the Team Valley in 2006.
John says: “In the early 2000s, I’d been working in London for a manufacturer and George and Andrew were discussing setting up a company in the North East and the timing worked beautifully for me to come home and join them.
“We’d spotted an opportunity in the market which, at the time, was focussed entirely on photocopying and scanning. We started with just the three of us company directors and one engineer and soon began to grow.
“It was an exciting time and we were up and running really quickly. In our first year we worked with the Labour Party to service their Annual Conference. That was a huge step forward for a fledgling firm and pretty daunting, actually.
“It all went well and we began working with a prestigious international hotel chain regionally the same year, a client we’re proud to have worked continuously since then. Now we look after their account on a national basis.”
Now with 21 staff, in addition to our Gateshead base, we have hubs in Bristol, the Midlands, London, the North West and South Yorkshire to facilitate national client cover.
John continues: “Business has changed a lot over the last 20 years. The most significant change being around 2006 and the migration into software solutions. We were already looking at an archival retrieval product back then.
“Multifunctional devices, our copy, print, scan, remains a core part of our client offer but around 2013 we began talking more about IT and comms. Our client contacts are often IT managers because copy, print, scan is so often the end point on their network. It’s now completely intertwined, so it was natural that we’d move into this area, too.
“We recently achieved the highly-prized IT security accreditation ISO 27001 and this really demonstrates that we have the policies, procedures and risk controls needed for robust IT security management.
“Cyber security is one of the biggest threats to every business in today’s world, particularly with the increasing shift towards remote working. Accessing files securely and remotely is a key issue and gaining our ISO 27001 is a measure of how securely we treat client data and information. And of our expertise to support clients to do the same.”
During the pandemic, we also achieved ISO 9001, the internationally recognised Quality Management System standard and maintained our commitment to community giving and support.
In fact, to encourage and support others pursuing their own personal and professional ambitions, we have donated more than £250,000 to charities, talented young individuals and community organisations since our launch.
John adds: “Celebrating this anniversary feels all the sweeter given the significant challenges faced by all businesses and community organisations over the last year and a half.
“If we’ve learned anything over the last 20 years, it’s the importance of embracing opportunities when they come along. Be that new technology or changes to business practice.
“That’s been a key factor for both us and our clients in navigating the challenges created by the pandemic. We’ve always maintained a strong commitment to investing in our own development and supporting our clients and community groups to do the same. We intend to keep doing just that and look forward to celebrating many more anniversaries to come.”