James Hopkins of NABC: ‘I tell my staff this is the toughest thing they’ve ever done’

James Hopkins of NABC: ‘I tell my staff this is the toughest thing they’ve ever done’

James Hopkins of NABC: ‘I tell my staff this is the toughest thing they’ve ever done’

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After winning 2021 & 2022 Corporate Live South West Awards founder James Hopkins told Marcus Hepping what lies behind the success.

James Hopkins is not the kind of person to do anything slowly.

He speaks quickly, gesticulating to emphasise each point he makes; he thinks quickly; and, above all, he does business quickly.

NABC, the company the former Educational International Business Manager founded in 2016, is growing by rapidly. Last year, it took a successful step up step throughout the pandemic and is expecting to turn over 300K by the end of 2022.

That growth has yielded a slew of awards along the way, not least two titles at the Corporate Live Business Awards, as well as the awards for Employer of the Year, sponsored by Pure, and Tech Innovator.

I think I bring a sense of urgency,’ he says, when we meet in his office at Plymouth.

I think that’s what’s missing from most businesses.

‘I know we’re lucky to have this opportunity and so we owe it to ourselves to absolutely smash it out of the park.

‘I owe it to myself and everyone in this business to absolutely lead the charge.’

National Association of Building Contractors (NABC) which employs 6 staff at present has required steady recruitment in entry-level and, more recently, board-level roles.

I don’t have the answer to everything – this is my first time doing this – so I have to surround myself with experienced people,’ says Mr Hopkins.

‘And I have to ask them ‘Am I still relevant?’ You have to be prepared to replace yourself. If I can find someone to work as hard as me and take things forward, that’s good.

‘You need to try to build your board, because when you have specialists in their area, you can then focus on the higher value services where you can have the most impact.

When you start out, you’re changing the lights and doing the cleaning – but with a business this size every decision can be worth thousands: you need the time to make those decisions.’


Mr Hopkins recruits all of his team himself – ‘I’m going to have to work with them every day’ – but admits the company’s meteoric growth may appear deceptively easy to applicants coming from outside.

‘I have to almost anti-sell it in an interview: I tell them it’s the toughest thing they’ve ever done,’ he says.

‘They have to be a unique character to work in my team. They have to be crazily ambitious and want to be massively successful. They have to be like an adventurer, but in business.’

While he sees the bolstering of the senior team as crucial to continuing success, Mr Hopkins has no plans to step back any time soon.

‘The right type of person will like that pressure. I like things moving fast: I enjoy that,’ he says.

‘I talk fast, and I don’t like to stay still, so this is the perfect environment for me.’

Qualifications are of no interest to me when interviewing ‘James explains’ I left school without any GCSEs at 15. No help from parents, no property deposit handout, just focus and determination.

Despite having ‘no idea’ what to do with his life he would “go against the odds and move to London and be successful. There is no magic pill or script. Just choose your path and go for it.