A farewell from our co-founder Lee Smith.
This will be my very last blog post for Gatehouse, as today is my last day as part of the core team here. After nearly three decades in the communication business, including the last 13 years developing and growing Gatehouse, I’ve decided to hang up my internal comms boots and try my hand at something quite different…
Since Simon Wright and I shook hands and agreed to set up an IC agency [admittedly over one beer too many] back in 2006, I have poured as much energy as I could muster into building Gatehouse into what it is today. And what a ride it’s been.
Those thirteen years have taken me, my family and our colleagues on an amazing journey and rewarded us in all sorts of ways. We’ve been all around the world – from Southend to South Korea, Dagenham to Dubai – and had the honour of working with some of the best communicators in the business. We’ve won awards for our work but, more importantly, we’ve made a difference to our clients and their businesses.
I’m incredibly proud of the business we’ve built. From humble beginnings, we have created one of the leading names in the internal comms space globally. Not only have we worked with many world class clients, but we’ve also done a huge amount to elevate the profession – from shining a light on our professional strengths and weaknesses through our definitive annual review of the IC landscape, State of the Sector, to equipping hundreds of IC practitioners to deliver more value through our global learning programme, Accelerate.
We have built a very strong and talented team and, following the acquisition of Gatehouse by Gallagher back in December 2017, the business has continued to go from strength-to-strength. Together with its sister agency, Gallagher Communication, Gatehouse is on a journey to become the best (and, quite possibly, biggest) internal communication consultancy in the world. And I have no doubt whatsoever the team will achieve that vision. It will be great to watch from the side lines!
I’m leaving the business in very safe hands. My co-founder, Simon, will remain on board until the end of this year, and he and the rest of the Gatehouse team will continue to work closely with Ben Reynolds, Matt Frost and the wider Gallagher and Gallagher Communication team. Our clients will continue to receive the great advice, service, consulting support and creative output they’ve benefited from since day one.
There’s no doubt today marks the end of a very important chapter in my life. It wasn’t easy deciding to step outside of my comfort zone and to embark on something I know comparatively little about, but it’s time for me to turn the page and start a new and exciting chapter.
Those who know me well know that one of my other big passions in life is rum. Aside from drinking too much of the stuff, I find the history and diversity of rum fascinating. Arguably the most global of spirits, it’s produced in six of the seven continents and comes in a mind-boggling number of varieties. Rum has driven global trade, sparked revolutions, lifted the spirits of armies and navies and fuelled many a party! But it remains the most under-appreciated and misunderstood of spirits – which is where my communication experience will come in useful!
So I’m off to start a rum revolution of my own, which will culminate in the launch of my very own rum brand next year. Over the coming months you are likely to find me somewhere in the Caribbean (first stop Jamaica next month), off learning to distil spirits, attending trade events, visiting potential suppliers, drinking, blogging or reading about rum. If you’re interested, you can follow my exploits at caneandable.com.
I would like to take this opportunity to thank everybody who has made this chapter of my life so rewarding and so successful – first my wife, Trudy, and family for encouraging me to take a risk 13 years ago and for putting up with me being away so often. I’ll try not to spend too much time in the Caribbean, I promise! 😉 Also my partner in crime, Simon, who has worked tirelessly to turn our dream into reality and who has always compensated brilliantly for my many weaknesses. To our fantastic and talented team, many of whom have been with us since the early days, I salute you all. To our parent, Gallagher, thanks for seeing the potential and for providing the springboard for our next phase in our journey. To our many suppliers, partners and associates, thanks guys! And, last but by no means least, massive thanks to our many and varied clients, past and present, without whom none of this would have ever been possible. I raise a glass to you all!