Feel free to hang around and read the ramblings below about how it all started but I wanted to get the details down on my blog so that in years to come I can refer back to it to remember how Bronco came to be. Who knows where we will all be then but we have come a long way on the journey so far.
Maybe it all started when Dave and I met in 1996 when we were both working at a printer spares and repair company in Ripon who supplied printers and parts to large maintenance companies like IBM and NCR. I joined Express Terminals (now Express Group) in 1996 fresh out of University after doing a BA Hons in Administrative Management and joined the purchasing department on the bottom rung of the ladder, and Dave was Business Development Manager. At the time Dave had been married for 7 years and I suppose kind of fell prey to the “7 year itch” – I was even cited on the divorce papers .. ooops. I’ll save it for another blog post but Dave and I got married on the 4th April 1998 at Gretna Green .. nearly 13 years ago.
Dave left Express Terminals in 1998 to join a small computer repair company and ISP in Ripon called Stem. I carried on at Express Terminals in purchasing and ended up being the Purchasing Manager in 2000 leading a team of 12. At Stem, Dave was running their small web division building small websites doing design and coding and was soon joined by Ben who was a programmer and technical. At the time the ISP was providing dial up accounts to the local area, hosting and email accounts. One of the original servers was called Bronco and sat alongside Dobbin and Neddy. The internet was becoming a bigger part in people’s daily life and Dave and Ben started building ecommerce websites and Dave was pulling his SEO experience into these new sites. In 2002, the owners of Stem decided to spilt their company with the ISP becoming Bronco Ltd and the hardware side of the company remaining as Stem Ltd. Dave then became MD of Bronco Ltd (no shares), but by that time was earning more “on the side” with private clients that he was optimising and gaining commission on the sales.
On my front I was running a busy purchasing team, took 6 months maternity leave in 2000 to have Miles – I remember how huge I was when I started my maternity leave at 39 weeks of pregnancy. Then in 2002 I had 5 months maternity leave to have Ethan and was straight back to it. There were of course the dilemmas of whether I should be putting the babies into nursery but I certainly couldn’t have stayed at home all day, even though I love them to pieces I also was driven to have a career too and you learn to balance it all (or is it juggle?).
It was in early 2003 that we took the decision to buy Bronco Ltd from the owners. Sounds a bit crazy as we had two kids under the age of 3 and we went and remortgaged the house and borrowed an extra £30,000 and bought Bronco Ltd. We signed the papers at the solicitors to complete the sale on 4th April 2003 (also our wedding anniversary), so in a few weeks Bronco will have its 8th birthday. 🙂
Initially it was Dave and Ben who worked in Bronco, and it wasn’t long before Dave realised he needed help with the accounts so we brought on Janet part time. Then Rory came on board, he used to be a computer engineer at Stem. It was a small team and all these people I have mentioned still work for Bronco. I was still busy being Purchasing Manager, as Bronco took on another a couple of other staff such as a content writer and another developer who didn’t last that long. It was in February 2005 that I packed in my well paid job and started working with Dave at Bronco. This was a big scary step as we were now both reliant on the success of the company for our future earnings and the security of the kids.
It wasn’t long after that in April 2005 that our youngest son, Ethan, who was nearly 3 at the time, was struck down with meningitis and meningococcal septicaemia and spent 4 days on a ventilator in St. James Hospital in Leeds and another 6 days in hospital recovering. To see your own child on a ventilator and being told by doctors that we had to see how he was hour by hour to rate his recovery chances is a totally life changing experience – it makes you totally re-evaluate everything that you have and changes your whole outlook on what’s important. From a business point of view it reinforced the value of the staff we had as we disappeared off the radar for 2 weeks while we were staying at the hospital, but also highlighted the client relationships that we had and one client was going to get his Dad, who was a Harley Street doctor, to fly his team to Leeds. It also highlighted the strength of the SEO community that Dave was well entrenched in on the WebMasterWorld forum as we had offers for people to come and run the business for us.
All was well and Ethan made a full recovery and we knew now that we had to make Bronco the very best it could be – and obviously to make the most of our family life too. We brought on more staff on the web development front including Chris and Kean. At the time there was still just Dave doing the SEO with the teams help. It would tend to be Dave and I sorting out things like site analysis reports and link building, as we didn’t take on another SEO for a while. Dave would be heading off to various conferences as he was on the speaker circuit and I would be running the office, clients, project and staff. These days it’s kind of different as I get more opportunity to go to conferences with Dave but I still pretty much run everything.
We moved into our current offices about 4 years ago and when we moved it gave us the extra room to expand. We started to develop the SEO team, but with everything we do it’s always in a controlled manner. We could be running a really large agency now, given all the work that we turn down, but that’s not the sort of company I want to run. I don’t want to be the person sat behind a big desk in an organisation reading reports from my various levels of managers and executives … I want to be in the thick of it. We have grown the company to handle clients without the tiers of project managers and account managers and it works well, and the clients appreciate the direct communication they have with the skilled team.
In the last 3 years we have grown the company further with more staff coming into various roles so that we can offer a full range of search marketing services with very little outsourcing. We have got some amazing clients who we really enjoy working for, and an amazing team of people who work for us. We have always run the company with the focus on the staff. Dave always says that if he was going to work for someone he’d want to work for Bronco, but maybe he’s a little biased. We currently have 17 staff which is a good number, but could do with a couple more to allow us to keep up with the demand for the services.
The next step for Bronco this year is underway and involves taking on another building in the business centre that currently is a shell, which we will relocate our 30 – 40 servers to on a 100Mbps fibre line and then use the rest of the space as a staff chill out area with a big kitchen, comfy sofas, sky tv, xbox, pool table, arcade machines and possibly lots of pic n’ mix! This will then allow us to expand in our current offices and grow the team again.
So that’s how it all started….