Having first entered the world of enforcement at the start of summer 2019, Andy Lear still considers himself to be something of a newcomer to the industry. At 56 years old, he describes himself as being ‘long in the tooth’, but ‘green’ in his new line of work.
At #TeamCES, we love nothing more than shining a light on the people who work with us, and having written about Andy’s son, Tom Lear, some months ago, we’re giving some attention to another outstanding professional and all-around top person from the Lear family.
Introducing High Court Enforcement Agent, Andy Lear.
That job title is certainly a jump from his forty plus years working in processing at food and chemical companies, but it’s a new challenge that he is absolutely relishing.
Andy speaks positively and reflectively about the experiences that have led him to where he is today, both in terms of his personal and professional life.
He cites such things as the breakdown of his marriage in 2010 and a period of time where he, by his own admission, ‘went a bit off the rails’, as turning points in his life.
A journey that took him from Stoke down to the Devon coast, back up to Stoke and then down to Essex has taught him an awful lot, Andy says.
‘Rattling around’, as he calls it, and living with friends down in Devon for a time, gave Andy the space to reevaluate his life and start to put the pieces back together. That started with forming a new relationship with his partner, including a very active social life and party lifestyle down in Essex.
It sounds fun, but what’s the relevance to Andy’s journey into enforcement?
Well, upon leaving the wild life behind and setting up his new life with his new partner on the Norfolk and Cambridge border, Andy’s interest in enforcement was sparked into life by an unfortunate discovery…
You see, the home he was all set to move into had been trashed by the previous tenants. We know this happens far too often, and it was more than a bit of a downer for Andy and his partner to be on the receiving end of.
Funnily enough, Andy’s son and fellow member of the #TeamCES family, Tom Lear, was also an influence on Andy getting involved with enforcement. He needed a ‘reinvention’ after forty years working as a ‘Pit Pony’, and on the verge of becoming a ‘bit of a dinosaur’, he listened to Tom’s advice and set the wheels in motion on a career change.
Tom and Andy are now regular sounding boards for each other, especially when things get tough, as they tend to do in this job. It’s something that Andy rates as incredibly important for an enforcement officer, that they have someone to talk to, compare notes with. It’s about picking each other up, sharing experiences and tackling challenges together.
It’s not just his son though, who Andy can call upon when times get tough.
About #TeamCES, he says…
“They’re a really good bunch of lads. There is always someone available to speak to you and Gareth (Our CEO) is very accessible on a day-to-day basis.”
In Andy’s eyes, the key to the success we have at #TeamCES is all down to running a tight ship, but there is so much more to it than the high standards we keep, it’s about the relationships we build.
The strength of those relationships has never been more important than during the pandemic and now, as we start to move beyond it, but rather than licking his own wounds from the effects of the past 18 months, Andy reflects on a lesson that he says COVID taught him – that life can be very cruel for some people.
This life lesson (yes, they still come in your 50s…) reinforced Andy’s opinion that enforcement is about so much more than making money. He talks about how identifying vulnerability is the most important part of the job.
It’s the compassionate side to enforcement that people rarely get to see, and the side that wouldn’t make good television for ‘Can’t Pay We’ll Take It Away’ or other similar programmes, the likes of which #TeamCES never get involved with.
Andy says that…
“TeamCES are nothing like big corporate companies, it’s not just about the money, money, money…”
…and the way he talks about his involvement in traveller evictions is testament to that.
“We’re the first people to help them find access to fresh water, fill up their tanks and ask if their children need anything…” he says.
We think this is a commitment that all of our agents understand, that the key to success lies in building relationships. What do we get out of this? Well, it’s clear to Andy…
The sense of satisfaction he gets from knowing he’s done a job well comes from when the travellers shake his hand before they go. It’s a sign of mutual respect and it’s a very humbling feeling for Andy, as it is for all of us. Yes, we’ve got the job done on behalf of the land owner, but we’ve also built up a rapport with the communities, enabling us to keep everyone happy, and make sure that everyone is safe.
Those are Andy’s words, more or less, but he’s keen to include something that was said to him by one of the travellers…
“What a difference it makes when people are civil. The respect comes back around…”
Hearing something like that, we’re not surprised that Andy felt humbled, but he should be just as proud of his contribution as well. It’s a #TeamCES mission statement and way of doing things which stretches countrywide. The people who work for us are loyal to the company, something Andy attributes to Gareth Haggerty’s involvement.
He was keen to stress that he didn’t want to ‘blow any smoke’, but Andy said that TeamCES Enforcement Agents are especially loyal to the company because…
“Gareth isn’t an ivory tower type person. He’s a proper leader who wouldn’t ask someone to do something that he himself wouldn’t be prepared to do.”
So, what does this relative ‘newbie’ to the industry rate as the most important things to consider for anyone wanting to follow in his footsteps. For Andy, it has to be a commitment to learning, and not just in the traditional sense through training courses and professional development.
The best training you could ever have in this industry, according to Andy, is the advice you bounce back and forth from the lads and ladies you work with. At times, you have to work on your own and use your own initiative, but the assignments you share with other agents, sometimes into the double figures of personnel, are perfect learning opportunities that you have to grab with both hands.
We couldn’t agree more, and this was evidenced by one of Andy’s ‘favourite’ jobs, an assignment in the north of England where everything went smoothly and was ‘easier than they thought it would be…’
Because of the number of agents on the job, all qualified, all down to earth, all there for the right reasons.
The squatters who had initially assumed they were up against a ‘bunch of bully boys’ came to realise that Andy and his colleagues were there to help them.
“It was a good few long days, but it was a great job. A lot of banter and a very good result. Just don’t ask about the boat we had to move….”
We won’t ask about the boat then, which is a little ironic considering Andy says that his top piece of advice for new Enforcement Agents would have to be…
“Don’t be afraid to ask questions”.
We want to finish this piece on Andy by talking about something he’s been involved in, but that he’d probably be too modest to bring up himself…
On a recent difficult job, Andy attended a property, clamped and seized a vehicle, only to discover that the man he was enforcing against was an elderly gentleman who had somehow slipped through the net.
He was registered disabled, but had no paperwork. With less than £50 in the bank, and owing ten times that amount, this was one of those warrants that our HCEOAs can struggle with.
Throw in the fact that the man had terminal cancer and this just becomes another sad story about how vulnerability can hide in plain sight. That’s why it’s so important that our guys and girls on the ground know what they’re looking for.
Anyway, Andy is now helping the gentleman, in his own time might we add, to make applications to the relevant channels of support. That really is going above and beyond.
Fair play, Andy.
Keep up the good work.