Portico, launched at the end of last month, is a new company specialising in corporate reception management, initially in London. The company name is derived from the definition of a portico, namely "something added to the front of a building to enhance it".
Top-class service is what it's all about, and something founder and former hotelier Greg Mace is passionate about, having been involved with the family hotel business in the Isles of Scilly since the age of 11.
"Some of the best advice I can give is to always pay attention to detail and not to take short cuts," says Mace. "I also feel you shouldn't necessarily look toward promotion too quickly. If you do things right, things will soon fall into place."
At Portico's heart is the desire to introduce five-star hotel standards to a business's front-of-house activities, creating the same "wow" factor guests encounter at London's Dorchester hotel on Park Lane when they arrive in its lobby - a hotel that just happens to be one of Mace's previous employers.
"People should always keep an open mind," he says. "When you start your career, it's easy to become carried away with the glamour of the hotel industry, but the corporate world can be just as exciting."
Mace learnt his trade in London's luxury hotel market in the early to middle 1990s, working for the Connaught and the Dorchester in London. While studying, he worked at the Hilton Toronto and Hilton Hong Kong hotels.
Having until then worked mainly front of house, Mace became banqueting manager at the Dorchester in 1994, before being head-hunted to work with Mark Verstringer at Catering & Allied's European Bank of Reconstruction and Development contract in 1996.
In 1998, he moved to US investment bank Merrill Lynch in London, where he took on responsibility for front of house, liaising with the various companies providing catering, security and reception services there. He also oversaw the not-inconsiderable task of relocating those providers to new purpose-built premises in St Paul's in 2000, which involved shifting 4,000 people.
It was during this time that Mace realised there was an opening for a dedicated front-of-house services provider with real customer services expertise. Having mentioned the idea over a beer to a friend at contract caterer Wilson Storey Halliday (now BaxterStorey), he was approached in 2003 by that company to develop the idea further.
Pausing only to agree that Portico would be a stand-alone entity from the caterer, he left the safety net of his job at Merrill Lynch and took on the challenge.
Joins Dorchester hotel
Headhunted to join European Bank
Leaves Merrill to develop Portico