I’m a Yorkshire man, from Leeds. Although I left Leeds at 17, the rockclimbing background on Yorkshire grit and Leeds United never left me.
After university I worked in Uganda, in the Idi Amin days, met a woman from Manchester, married and travelled to Ethiopia at the time Emperor Haile Selassie was being deposed. Interesting times!
Back in the UK in Aberdeen with wonderful access to the Cairngorm winter and summer climbing, I secured a job with Unilever with whom I spent six wonderful years in commercial management and qualified as a management accountant.
By 1984 our second child had been born and, with the generous support of my wife, I gave up a secure income to set up Fosse Feeds. This new company developed processes and market unusual byproducts of the food and fermentation industries for use in animal feeds. In 1986, with partner Mark Harrison, we also set up Farmlab developing Near Infra Red Spectroscopy (NIRS) for rapid analysis of our organic raw materials.
Within a few years Farmlab became the UK market leader in contract analysis of forage analysis, analysing 32,000 samples per year, more than the other 20+ Ministry of Agriculture laboratories put together. We achieved our first DTI SMART research and technology award for developing innovative NIRS calibrations for forage analysis.
Fosse Feeds customer base was the export abattoirs who typically held reserves of several thousand cattle for whom we supplied byproduct ingredients and ration design. On March 26, 1996, the BSE scare broke. Over the next two years the export abattoirs went bust and supermarkets delisted meat supplies apart from those fed on ‘natural ingredients’. Although all our ingredients were byproducts of human food, they were unusual and not acceptable.
Fortunately for the previous five years we had been developing processes for using our organic byproducts in other market applications. We’d developed applications in oil drilling muds, plastic and rubber fillers and industrial absorbents for which we won further DTI SMART Awards and in 1992 a DTI DEMOS grant for demonstrating innovative technology.
Fosse Feeds died, we sold Farmlab to Genus (who had also acquired the newly privatised Min of Agriculture laboratories and wanted our technology) and Fosse Liquitrol was born.
Fosse Liquitrol initially manufactured and supplied industrial absorbents for oil and chemical spill control into British industry via a network of industrial distributors. In 2007, with trepidation, we developed an e-commerce route to market under a completely separate identity – Spill Direct. This rapidly expanded.
In 2010, a fire destroyed our warehouse and all our stock. We sold the driers and contracted out production and concentrated on providing a complete solution to oil and chemical spill prevention and control to our customers in the UK and increasingly to clients in Eastern Europe, the Middle East, Nigeria and South America.
In 2013 we established a spill training school and assembly plant in Port Harcourt in the midst of the most heavily oil polluted area in the world – the Niger Delta. Four years later we established our UK training division as a stand alone entity – The Spill Training Academy (STA) – accredited by the British Safety Industry Federation and the International Marine Organisation. Fosse Liquitrol is now a UK market leader in spill control and the STA the market leader in accredited spill training.
Multiple injuries have required climbing to give way to cycling!