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Big Interview12 / ConferenCe & Meetings World / issUe 67London for a services business such as ours was akin to staying out of touch." He subsequently grew the business from a turnover of £11m ($17.5m) to almost £300m ($479m).Despite some headline departures in the UK at the end of 2011, Evans claims his staff churn rate is fairly low. The company employs 1,200 worldwide, but he reckons teams of 50 are the optimum work collective. "If you lose intimacy you lose business," he says.Evans was forced to return to the front line at the Marlow office, however, to put things back on track following the departure last year of longstanding Divisional Director Nick Bender, whose successor Amanda Litzow also resigned abruptly just weeks after taking over from Bender. Evans described the episode at the time as "the most bizarre event in my entire lifetime". There is clearly Methodism in the corporate madness, and Evans is a practical 'Wesleyan' leader, constantly referring to his company as a 'family'."Bender got carried away with the idea of 'let's create an events company'. He forgot about the gardening," says Evans. "An event is part of whole. There has to be a business premise.""People tend to get above themselves. But an event is just another form of communicating. Yes, it's glamorous, but for a short period. Work, however, is grinding. This industry too often can be a 'beck and call' girl." True to his RootsPaUl Colston Meets the ChairMan of international CoMMUniCations and event agenCy grass roots groUP, david evans Mbe, and finds the Warhorse of nUMeroUs CaMPaigns is still Charging hardhairman of global perfomance improvement company Grass Roots Group, David Evans, could be forgiven for feeling he has done enough to have earned a relaxing time out to pasture.But recessionary pressures, new international projects and some sorting out at the top of the company's Marlow office, mean Evans is not thinking of moving out to grass any time soon. Evans' grass appears to be getting greener: he founded a company in Wales recently producing sustainable products and named, Matilda's Planet, after his youngest daughter.Evans founded Grass Roots back in 1980 in the Hertfordshire, UK. The HQ now sits in a former stables in Tring, still in the county, and there are two more offices in London and numerous bases abroad.The 64-year-old London-born Evans is still in the saddle in the race for more business and remains true to his roots. "The company colours are red because I am a social capitalist," he says, and admits to having been a young communist, a belief picked up from his father, a trade union official.His mother was a Methodist so, no surprise Evans is tempered with some steely strands of thinking. He says his goals remain "greater than the wallet". The man now in charge of a US$479m company claims to have met every British Premier since 1964, including the incumbent David Cameron, whose Chequers retreat is just over the hill from the Grass Roots Tring HQ.Evans took his first job in advertising. "A trendy job for a young man from Rotherhithe. There was no fear of failure, I was bright and young and the job paid 10 times what I was on at University."He moved once, but got to a point where, he says, "I wasn't achieving enough emotionally".Cue a sharp departure to the North of England, where he went to run a factory in Bradford, while studying simultaneously for an MBA.Then came marriage, a move back south and a job at the Maritz agency. Entrepreneurial desires soon flared and he plunged into business for himself. He says the then Maritz MD predicted he would last just 18 months."I mortgaged my house to buy my first IBM for £48k and within nine months we went from two to 20 staff," Evans recalls.Agent of changeEvans claims to have been pioneer of a whole new economic sector dealing with people changing their work practices. "I went round like an evangelist saying people needed to change and asking the question of whether managers really understood where the real assets of their businesses were," he says.In 1984, the Grass Roots business was spread from London to Leeds. At that point Evans borrowed money and brought everything together at a country house in Hertfordshire."At the time, the conventional wisdom was that staying out of C

Big InterviewISSUE 67 / ConfErEnCE & MEEtIngS World / 13Grass Roots' employees 1200worldwide1980Grass Roots founded1984Evans consolidates company HQ in Hertfordshire2006GRG acquires the European arm of Maritz2011MD of the Marlow operation, Nick Bender, resigns2012Company employs 1,200 staff worldwide, with seven businesses in the UK