What was the motivation for setting down the road and starting my own business? Well, way back in the day I suppose I was bitten by the bug to learn and improve myself. I had always been academically minded – I could pass exams and I was interested in technical stuff. Tech drawing at school was my main subject – I was pretty good at it. Leaving school I wanted to be an engineering draughtsman – drawing on a board with my pencil and set square and on occasion my rubber ooter!
No CAD back then in the olden days.
I was fortunate enough to get an apprenticeship at John Brown Engineering on the Clyde (that’s for another blog) and progressed as a technician to draughtsman at VSEL at Barrow when my time was out. (Redundancy and 7 months on the dole more like). Moved on from there to Paisley Tech (Mechanical Engineering 2/1 Hons) and a couple of engineering positions later I ended up working as an engineering consultant in the downstream oil industry.
Something just wasn’t right – it wasn’t enough for me and I had to try and make a go of it myself. I got lucky or did my luck happen because I worked hard and learned – I’ll take the latter. My exposure to an asset management software training course in Southampton made me think about what to do next.
Asset management and the closing off of projects was an area I had been interested in for some time – I was never allowed to close a job off – it was always low priority. Move on to the next job was the way we worked and the customer either complained until finally the as-built pack was completed or they gave up.
Eureka! I could do this, this could be a business…and so EPM was conceived.
Shire Systems in Southampton were the software company I went training with sometime back in the 90’s – they were happy to work with me and sent me leads for companies in Scotland who wanted a software demo. I went to see these companies and showed them how the Shire Software – FrontLine – could work for them. I made a lot of mistakes but at the same time made a lot of good contacts and gained some customers.
Back then I worked in a diverse range of companies and sectors on my own – Whisky, Libraries, North Sea Support Vessels, Airports, Aluminium process plant, Nuclear waste facility… the list goes on. The strategy was always to be engineering focussed when visiting customers. I was an engineer not a software guy. My relationship with Shire was a good one (still is) and we were awarded a contract with DIAGEO in Fife to help them implement FrontLine – this was an early boost – I took on some staff. Then out of the blue the phone rang – it was BP!
It was an old contact from my consultancy days – we knew each other well – I wondered what he was calling me for to be honest – thought I had done something in my previous job that he wanted to check on, happy to help! In fact he had been passed my contact details by Shire Systems – I was the guy who knew their software and who knew the BP infrastructure. BP wanted me to help them with FrontLine. This was a surprise initially and somewhat daunting at that time. I was working in a spare room of a consultant structural engineer at the time; the toilet was in the close (Stairs up to our floor) with a birds nest in the ventilation fan!
Could I do this? Well the rest is history – we helped BP across all their UK sites and still do. We built our business from then on and each and every member of the team has made a significant contribution to our success. We are now working across the world in a variety of sectors and own our head office based in Paisley near Glasgow Airport.
Can’t believe that it’s 10 years already!