Made in Britain: Quick Hydraulics

What does your company do? What products services does it provide?
Quick Hydraulics is a specialist hydraulic engineering business. We design, manufacture, install, service and repair complex hydraulic systems, working with customers across a range of industries. We supply a range of hydraulic components to our customers, and have our own customer training centre from which we have trained over 1,400 of our customer’s apprentices, technicians and engineers in the theory and practice of hydraulic systems.

Where did the idea for your business come from?
Quick Hydraulics was founded in 1977, and I acquired the business in 2011 via a Management Buy-In. Prior to acquiring the business I had spent 27 years working within global engineering corporations, working my way up to from graduate trainee to spend six years as Managing Director of a subsidiary of Continental AG.

Having become increasingly frustrated with the restrictions of working within large bureaucratic businesses and wishing to find a new challenge, my New Year’s resolution in 2011 was to buy my own business. Quick Hydraulics came to my attention as a small, quality business which was technically very good at what it did, but with scope to introduce modern systems, business practices and management techniques.

My business plan was quite simply to blend the best qualities of Quick Hydraulics with the relevant aspects of my management experience. The company I took on was a £2.5m turnover business with 14 employees, and we aim to grow it to one with £10m turnover, with many more employees. We are currently on track to achieve £4.1m turnover this year with 32 employees.

When did you start up, and what support were you given?
Since acquiring Quick Hydraulics, I have received excellent support from the Manufacturing Advisory Service (MAS) who not only helped us to introduce modern manufacturing techniques – enabling us to eliminate waste and create a streamlined workshop environment – but an MAS Management Practitioner worked with us to develop an Environmental Management System, which is fully compliant with the internationally recognised ISO 14001 environmental standard.

We were the first company in the North East to sign up with the Growth Accelerator programme. Initially, we worked with a Sales Coach to help us modernise our sales & marketing systems. Then we worked with a consultant to deliver a management development programme to the senior team, to enable them to make the transition from the old business culture to the new business culture.

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What has been your biggest achievement so far?
We have created 18 new jobs in 30 months, including 6 apprentices and 2 graduate jobs.

What has been the biggest challenge so far?
Having the nerve to acquire a business while the economy was still in the depths of recession, and then investing in growth in advance of the economic recovery.

How would you say you differentiate yourself from the competition?
By focusing on being the best that we can be in everything that we do, being consummately professional, and relentlessly seeking to improve every aspect of our business.

What has been the best decision you have made to-date?
To open a sales office in Aberdeen, to accelerate the development of our business activities in the oil & gas sector in the North East of Scotland.

Where do you see the business in 12 months’ time?
We are targeting 20 per cent growth as we seek to capitalise on the investments we have made in the business.

What advice would you give to other entrepreneurs?
Make sure you have a well thought through business plan with which you can drive your business forward and use to sell yourself to customers and investors.

What do you find most satisfying about running a business?
Having left the relatively safe haven of corporate business to become owner/MD of a SME, I am energised by the breadth of activities in which I now play a leading role; from fundraising and investor management, to marketing, business development and improvement.