10 years ago, Brothers Sam and Ben Garrity created the beginnings of their multi-award winning agency aged just 31 and 24. Born from a heartfelt desire to help small businesses grow by reaching their customers effectively, the essence of RocketMill remains the same today.
This post is based on the interview published in September’s Platinum Business Magazine, foretelling how RocketMill moved from servicing local MOT Centres to blue-chips, what it’s like to work with your brother and why we’re even better than Brighton’s ‘Harry Potter shop’.
It’s all about the people, first.
‘We recently placed 12th on The Sunday Times 100 Best Small Companies to Work For, have been recognised as one of Campaign’s 50 Best Places to Work, and featured as Number 15 in The Drum’s Top 100 Independent Agencies Census’, Sam beams.
‘Winning Company of the Year at the 2019 Brighton and Hove Business Awards on top of all of this, felt both surreal and right. It rewarded 10 years of hard work for us and our team, but the icing on the cake was my children’s reactions the next day. I woke up to them reading the award aloud asking, ‘Daddy – you have won company of the year? You’re the best company in all of Brighton…and Hove? Even better than the Harry Potter shop?’..that gave me real perspective.’
They then opened the fizz back at the office and celebrated with their team, attributing the success to them, ‘It’s all about them’ states Sam. ‘Their behaviour creates the culture and changes it every day. Their talent attracts and retains the clients so this award is certainly for all the people at RocketMill’.
From left: Bethanie Mardon, Marketing Director. Sam Garrity, CEO. Neil Barnes, Head of Data Analytics. Category Judge Yvonne Folkes, Stakeholder and Engagement Lead at Gatwick Airport. Bianca May, Client Strategy Director. Ian Flynn, Creative Director. Jack Chape, Deputy Head of Paid Media. Marc Young, Managing Partner. Rhys Jackson, Chief Technology Innovation Officer.
How the Rocket launched.
Sam and Ben started the business by identifying that the companies spending money on directories were behind the curve of their consumers’ needs, ‘they were getting screwed’, said Ben – the brainchild behind RocketMill, ‘I started my career in sales and could see how businesses were spending money ineffectively. I wanted to help them market their business direct to their customers so asked Sam to partner with me in modernising the approach by building websites for companies and marketing them on Google…and we’ve not looked back’.
Their first ever client was a local garage firm run by a father and son team. Ben presented a range of ideas to them on how they could get more for their budget. ‘While I was talking through it, I could feel my chair starting to break and I jolted backwards. It quickly fell to pieces from under me and I crashed to the floor.’ But, ever focused on client needs, Ben continued and got to the end of his presentation. ‘It was only when I called them afterwards to check in that they burst out laughing’.
In the early days, Sam recalls him and his then heavily pregnant wife living out of their sister’s loft from where he cold called prospects, ‘I had three appointments set up. Two of those didn’t show up and the third simply told me he’d think about it. I felt like I had the weight of the world on my shoulders and slumped back into my car, but then heard a tap on the window’.
‘It was the owner of the business who told me, ‘I’ve changed my mind. I trust you and believe in what you’re offering so I’m in. Not only that but I’ll pay you one year fees upfront.’ That was a defining moment for me. And I just knew it was all going to work out.’
The beginnings of RocketMill were born while Ben and Sam used their own money, not taking a salary for over a year. Today, with a few wrong turns and many proud moments en route, RocketMill is one of the largest independent agencies in the UK.
The rhythm of RocketMill
There is an undeniable rhythm at RocketMill that stems from the energy and ambition the Garrity’s share. From their famous welcomes to greet new team members (join the half a million views on YouTube and see for yourself), to how much heart and hard work they put into every piece of work they deliver for clients.
With Sam as CEO and Ben as Chief Revenue Officer, they have largely different strengths which combine to great effect and, though in agreement that working with your brother is challenging, they declare their bond provides a shortcut in every discussion to the real truth. ‘Trust and humility lies at the heart of what we do – between us, with our clients and across the entire agency’, says Ben.
Left to right: Sam and Ben Garrity
The future looks bright, the future looks orange.
While they remain steadfast in retaining clients and talent, they also want to attract new clients and new talent – but the right ones on both accounts are key. ‘Our clients see us as an extension of their internal team; more of an investment than a cost’, they share. ‘These clients are not affected by trends such as in-housing. They want long term, multiple service line, agency partners.’
Sam and Ben conclude, ‘To achieve the success our clients need, we’ve always chosen the best people from the get go. Some have been with us from the very beginning and we’ve been fortunate enough to be a part of their adventures; seeing the development, marriages, children, promotions. It’s a must and a pleasure for us to look after them.’
‘After all, creating business value starts with creating value for people – true for our team, our clients and their customers’.
Join in the rhythm:
Words: Bethanie Mardon | Photography: Bertram Greenhough.