Gareth Howie: Surmount Investigations
Providing individuals and companies with a discreet, professional and lawful investigation service to secure the evidence needed to tackle a variety of legal cases, from cheating partners to thieving employees, is the hallmark of Gareth Howie’s business, Surmount Investigations.
With over ten years’ investigation experience including both in the civilian and military police, the banking sector, and the civil service, Gareth decided to re-direct his knowledge and start his own private investigation business.
“I saw how family and friends struggled to get a good investigative service from the police and local authorities, when a small amount of evidence gathering would have generated results for them. There didn’t seem to be anyone out there offering a problem-solving service under one roof, so I decided to fill that gap in the market and start my own business,” said Gareth.
“I have an inherent desire to help people. Nobody should be without help and whether it’s a company at the end of its tether regarding a rogue employee, or a partner who is suspected of having an affair or planning to abduct the couple’s children, then my company can lawfully gather the evidence required to get a court order.”
Describing himself as a ‘professional problem solver’, Gareth undertakes an ultra-high level of due diligence on each case and turns down more work than he accepts.
On a mission to transform the image of private investigators away from shady characters, employing dark arts and operating on the edge of the law, Gareth operates legally and transparently, saying that, “there is no point in gathering evidence illegally, as there’s nothing legal you can do with it.”
Based in Newcastle, Surmount Investigations provides an investigations and security consultancy to individuals and companies throughout the North East and nationally. It takes on cases ranging from litigation support to law firms and security vulnerability assessments for businesses through to personal location investigations, letting support services and loss prevention guidance.
All staff are fully trained and qualified in professional investigation and surveillance operations and the company is a member of the Association of British Investigators. Having access to a network of professionally regulated agents throughout the UK enables the company to provide a service with national reach when needed.
Since starting up, Surmount Investigations has gained a good reputation in the industry, and most of its work is generated from word of mouth recommendations. The company works with some of the region’s leading law firms and insurance companies, and has even worked on international assignments in countries including the US, Australia and Somalia.
Prior to starting his business Gareth was able to embark on the New Enterprise Allowance (NEA) programme. His Job Centre put him in touch with PNE where he was able to benefit from a programme of ERDF support which included one-to-one business advice and a two-day intensive start-up course, supporting him in all aspects of business planning, from market research and financial management to accounts and legal requirements.
Commenting on the impact of NEA, Gareth said, “The NEA support was invaluable in the early stages of the business, and without it we wouldn’t have been able to achieve the high standards of service as quickly as we did. It enabled us to invest in marketing, including printing leaflets and attending networking events, which really helped to announce the business to the world. It also gave us the space and confidence to chase client work, which was a real boost.”
Summing up the impact of the ERDF support he received through PNE, Gareth said, “Although I had the investigative skills for the business, I didn’t know anything about starting and running a business. PNE provided me with the essential advice, guidance and business skills I needed to make it a success. From business planning to marketing and accounts to tax, PNE gave me the knowledge to turn my idea into a viable business.”
PNE also included Gareth in its Get Growing programme which provides advice and support for businesses with growth ambitions to achieve their potential. Comprising a package of one to one advice from a PNE specialist, tailored to support the growth plans of the business, the programme also includes peer to peer networking opportunities, and masterclasses by leading business professionals.
Commenting on the Get Growing programme, Gareth said, “The Get Growing programme provides great support to get you to the next level with your business. The networking event I attended was really useful, enabling me to develop new contacts and to secure new work.”
Since starting his business, Gareth has built a strong reputation in his sector and this has even spread as far as one of New York’s most prestigious criminal justice training institutions. Gareth was interviewed by John Jay College in order to provide a chapter for its teaching manual which is used with all of its students and is also often also regarded as the manual of the NYPD.
In the future Gareth hopes to be on retainer with leading solicitor and insurance companies. Ultimately, he wants to have his work recognised by international academics in the sector, and in the future to be a respected lecturer and mentor in his field.
Not content with his day to day investigations, Gareth has also penned his first novel under the pseudonym Leonard McClane; a crime thriller called ‘Lehman’s Terms’. Find out more here.