The Aberdeenshire oil services business shows trust in workers in the downturn in the North Sea

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Name: Kirk Ian.

Age: sixty-five.

What is your company’s name?

Vulcan Goods for Completion.

Where are they based?

Around Westhill, Aberdeenshire.

What does it make, what facilities does it offer?

The company provides a variety of specialized instruments that are used to facilitate the operation and cementation of pipes in oil, gas and geothermal wells.

To whom is the business selling?

VCP sells directly to global operating firms and major players, as well as to service companies in the headlines. In over 25 countries, we have also built a network of distributors and agents to serve us worldwide.

What’s your sales volume?

Sales of £ 3 million were expected for this year, but the Covid 19 coronavirus has meant that we have had to cancel much of our plans, both financially and otherwise, as with several other businesses. At the next possible chance, however, we will strike again!

How many workforce?

Hey. Nine.

When was this company founded?

For around a year before we began, myself and my nephew Nathan worked on original designs, and the business was registered in the UK in 2017.

Why did the plunge take you?

The industry was in a decline and no other organization seemed to us to be concentrating on developing any of the instruments we specialized in. Cutbacks meant that the priority was elsewhere, so the time was right, we thought. On a personal level, after a good growth course, I retired at age 62, but I quickly got bored and wanted to do something exciting again. It was a perfect opportunity to create something fresh and innovative using the lessons and experiences of the past. There was technology, the void existed and the time was right.

What were you doing before you hit the plunge?

Mountain climbing, walking, driving cars, jumping out of airplanes – and dreaming all the time. You have to do other things in retirement because you have been employed all your life. I’ve been working since I was about 13 years old, and then suddenly I stopped. I’ve never had a nine-to-five career in my life, and it’s always been all or nothing – and then all of a sudden it changed from one to the other.

How did you raise the money for the start-up?

Since we had it from the selling of the previous company, Downhole Goods, I did not have to boost the start-up funding. I was trying to raise some cash, but not a single financial institution was showing interest. As an enticing investment, the oil industry is no longer “in vogue”

Despite the frustrations, though, the way we were originally funded means that we are fully autonomous now, and that in turn means that we are not bound to anyone or anything. That and our tiny, seasoned team makes us agile to get things done so we can easily make choices – you don’t have to peel back all the layers to get to the decision makers. We’re powerful and lean. The business is absolutely ours at the end of the day and works from a very different location than if it had been financed externally. But VCP is not only my business; it was designed entirely in the style of a cooperative of employees. We distributed company shares to all workers only recently so that everyone can be compensated for their work.

What was the biggest breakthrough you made?

It came in our first few months of operation when a multinational organization operating in the Caspian region approached us and asked us to develop a centralization product for an application they were having persistent difficulties with.

What was the toughest moment you had?

It was quite disappointing and shocking to not be able to borrow from the banks. I had more than enough collateral and business acumen for what I needed in terms of loans, but there was just no interest, even though I have always banked with the same institutions and they know every detail of my financial history.

What do you enjoy most about running the business?

It’s great to work with a great team that is motivated and does its job well. I can’t relax and have to be on my toes all the time, but we have fun with our business.

What do you enjoy the least?

There’s really nothing I don’t enjoy – except maybe reading contracts! I find that “red tape” has changed beyond recognition in the last 20 years, and that’s a bit difficult because it often means that the same services take much longer – but we have to keep the terms and v

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