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INcommerce

THE Lanarkshire CHAMBER OF COMMERCE BUSINESS MAGAZINE

ISSUE 12

HAMILTON PROUD HISTORY, VIBR ANT PRESENT

• Procurement – are you getting your share from local government? • New era dawns for your Chamber of Commerce

THE QUEEN’S AWARDS

Lanarkshire’s excellence in exporting


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Contents Welcome...................................... 3 News in Brief................................ 4 Hamilton looks forward to a prosperous future....................... 10 SELECT honours two lanarkshire-based businesses....... 12 Chamber Members’ News......... 14 A helping hand from SSE wind farm funds.......................... 20 lifeSKILLS wins innovations in training accolade......................... 22

Procurement: the elephant in the room................................. 28 Ask The Professionals................. 32 The Political Column.................. 34

Lanarkshire Chamber of Commerce Suite 4, West Stand New Douglas Park Cadzow Avenue Hamilton ML3 0FT t: 01698 426882 f: 01698 424699 e: info@lanarkshirechamber.org

For advertising contact DTech on T: 01436 678808 E: sales@incommerce.biz Editorial management by Blueprint Media www.blueprintmedia.co.uk E: incommerce@lanarkshirechamber.org Publisher: DTech Distribution: DTech Distribution

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ello and welcome to the 12th issue of In Commerce magazine. My name is John Brown and I have the privilege to be the newly-appointed President of the Lanarkshire Chamber of Commerce. This is a great honour and one I intend to fulfil to the best of my ability. I wish to put on record the Chamber’s grateful thanks to Maurice Logie, who has stepped down as President of the Chamber after many years of dedicated service. I know that all members past and present will share with me our gratitude for his substantial contribution. These are exciting times for the Lanarkshire Chamber: as we report in this issue, the Chamber has entered a new era with a new board, president and chief executive, as well as a now re-established and, prospectively, highly-productive relationship with the Scottish Chamber of Commerce. Our finances are once again wellfounded and I am delighted to report that membership of the Chamber is climbing steadily as more and more business people in Lanarkshire choose to re-engage with their principal representative body. In this issue we tackle the vexed issue of procurement: what can Lanarkshire’s business do to secure significantly more of local and central government budgets? What, in turn, can the politicians, civil servants and council officials need to change to assist

businesses in Lanarkshire? We examine the evidence. This edition also focusses on business in Hamilton, the ancient Scottish royal burgh with a proud history and a vibrant future. We report on the success of the Hamilton Business District’s (BID) efforts to boost the town’s business prospects to residents and visitors and to create a more dynamic, prosperous environment. We report too on a whole series of Lanarkshire business success stories including Glencairn Crystal, Bell’s Food Group, Essential Vehicle Finance and Xyrex, companies that are bringing jobs and prosperity to our part of the world. As ever there are updates from our esteemed sponsors, SSE, West of Scotland Mercedes Benz, Dalziel Park Hotel and LifeSKILLS, as well as news about some of our many successful networking events. As 2014 with all its momentous events, including the Commonwealth Games, looms before us let us continue the self-confident, can-do, upbeat tone that served Lanarkshire businesses so well in 2013. Thanks to all of you and best wishes for a merry Christmas and a prosperous New Year.

John Brown President, Lanarkshire Chamber of Commerce.

InCommerce is published by DTech. 20 East Argyle Street, Helensburgh G84 7RR. Telephone 01436 678808. E-mail: info@dtechuk.com. Editorial management by Blueprint Media www.blueprintmedia.co.uk. E: incommerce@lanarkshirechamber.org InCommerce is fully protected by copyright and nothing may be printed wholly or in part without the written permission of the publishers. The proprietors of this magazine are publishers and not agents, or sub-agents of those who advertise therein. They cannot be held liable for any loss suffered as a result of information gained from this publication. The views expressed by authors of articles published in this magazine are solely those of the author and are not necessarily the views of or shared by the editor, nor the publisher or the directors, shareholders and/or employees of DTech Publishing Ltd.

The Chamber is grateful to our partners for their financial support.

lifeSKILLS c e n t r e s

Lanarkshire CHAMBER OF COMMERCE BUSINESS MAGAZINE

I didn’t get where i am today...... 27

PRESIDENT’S WELCOME

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As an employer you need protection................................... 25

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News in Brief... New jobs and keen prices in the pipeline as OilFast prepares to go the extra mile

Get in touch with your stories incommerce@lanarkshirechamber.org

Bellshill firm wins contract to plumb-in tanks on Atlantic lighthouse

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Lanarkshire CHAMBER OF COMMERCE BUSINESS MAGAZINE

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o-ahead new Motherwell-based fuel supply business OilFast is starting out as it means to continue, with good news on the jobs front and some of the keenest prices in the fuel distribution sector. The company, which was only launched in September, is headed by industry veterans Alan Tait and Campbell Brogan and a full team with years of experience in the bulk distribution business and supplies kerosene, gas oil and road diesel to homes, businesses and farms throughout the year. OilFast has started with 12 people in its HQ in Motherwell and along with other depots based in Inverness, Crieff and Forfar the company employs 25 people, and intends to increase this headcount by 50% as orders continue to flood in. It has a fleet of newly liveried tankers, which it also proposes to augment in the near future. Area Director Joe Carroll, who has just overseen the introduction of a 24-hour fuel bunker service at Nethan Street, Motherwell, said that he was keen to compete on price for both diesel products in a highly sensitive market and also domestic kerosene for home heating at an “incredible” fixed price of 55p per litre Ex 5% Vat throughout November, with great prices set to continue thereafter. He said: “We are growing the business from a standing start, but we have a great team, excellent local knowledge and top rate drivers who are able to go that extra mile. We are fuelled for the future.” He added that “OilFast is always looking for talented individuals and if anyone feels that they could add value to the business please get in touch, all enquiries will be dealt with in the strictest of confidence.”

The OilFast team: orders flooding in

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It’s the famed Muckle Flugga lighthouse

avid McLeod Plumbers Ltd, members of The 1700 Club, a Chamber-affiliated Business Networking Club, has recently completed an unusual plumbing contract – working on an unmanned lighthouse out in the Atlantic Ocean. David McLeod, founder of the Bellshill-based business, explains: “We have dealt with the company which would be supplying the drains and tanks and they asked us if we would be interested in taking on this unusual contract. “It was too good an opportunity to let slip through our hands so my son Ross was ‘volunteered’ to take on the job. “The ‘Muckle Flugga’ lighthouse is about one mile into the Atlantic Ocean and getting there to start work on the job meant a journey by road from Bellshill to Aberdeen where he boarded a ferry for a 14hour trip to Lerwick with a stop-off at Orkney. “That meant an overnight stay at the most northerly point in the British Isles, then a taxi to Lerwick Airport and a helicopter journey out to the lighthouse; he was away for about seven days. “Once on site, he had to drain and remove the old tanks and install and top up the newly installed tanks, then return to finish off the contract.”

A view from the famed Muckle Flugga lighthouse


Who’s going to eat all these pies?

Lanarkshire CHAMBER OF COMMERCE BUSINESS MAGAZINE

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o be the Number One branded pie maker in Scotland – and to have had people coming back for more since 1931– you have to have the right ingredients. And Lanarkshire’s Bells Food Group has shown that it certainly has the recipe for success. Two thirds of shoppers in Scotland who buy fresh pies choose Bells. Not only Scotch pies and Steak pies, of course, but more recently they have been tucking into the Shotts-based company’s runaway favourites, Chicken Tikka Masala and Chicken Peri Peri pies. And it’s not just Scots who are hooked. Bells, which started as a small family bakery selling scones and pancakes round the doors in the depths of the Great Depression, is now not only Number One in Scotland but the Number Two biggest seller in the UK. Ronnie Miles, Finance Director at Bells, said: “We have 56.2% of the Scottish branded pie market , four in five people who buy Scotch pies buy Bells.” Bells, which has two bakeries and a distribution centre in Shotts, employs 200 people, and it has also come up with a successful recipe for an unusually productive relationship with its workforce. It runs two apprenticeship schemes in engineering and bakery and more than 70 employees have gained their SVQs through the company.

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Training and safety are the right ingredients for Scotland’s Number One pie maker

Staff turnover is only 6% – in fact, only 2% when retirals and staff going on to colleges and universities are stripped out – and absenteeism is only 0.6%, a figure virtually unheard of in the industry. Ronnie Miles said: “We put a lot of time and effort into training. It is one of our core objectives and everyone involved takes it very seriously. Some 10% of the workforce are health and safety-trained, some staff are at Motherwell College and others are going on a study tour to Germany next year. “We have been A-Grade BRC-accredited for several years and training takes place at all levels as well – our production director and I are currently undergoing online training for our NEBOSH diploma – my next exam is in January.” Bells’ Hawthorn Bakery specialises in pies and savouries while its Dykehead bakery produces pastry and cakes including the famous Kirriemuir Gingerbread. Pastry sales have grown “spectacularly” in recent years on the back of the popularity of en croute foods in major multiples. The company, which posted turnover of £15.5 million in the year 2012/13 and will increase that to £16 million this year, has invested £4 million in the last five years in plant and equipment and has just launched new butter-enriched pastry products. Ronnie Miles said: “We have plenty of spare capacity, but we are not going to be busy fools at the expense of margins. In a company with as long a history as ours, we will continue to seek a sustainable optimum, rather than chase the maximum.”

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News in Brief...

Get in touch with your stories incommerce@lanarkshirechamber.org

Back in business:

New board leads Lanarkshire Chamber of Commerce’s return to the Scottish Chambers

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Lanarkshire CHAMBER OF COMMERCE BUSINESS MAGAZINE

vitally important milestone for the business community in Lanarkshire has been reached with the welcoming of the Lanarkshire Chamber of Commerce back into the Scottish Chambers of Commerce fold. After more than six months of intense negotiation, the Lanarkshire Chamber has been re-accredited to the national body and has recruited a strong and effective new board composed of respected local business people and local authority executives. The move, which is likely to be followed in the near future by accreditation to the standards of the British Chambers of Commerce, will open up lucrative new commercial avenues and effective contact networks for Lanarkshire’s businesses. Neil Kennedy, chief executive of the Lanarkshire Chamber, said: “Lanarkshire has a very healthy and innovative business community which deserves an active chamber which can rejuvenate commercial enterprise and repair the chamber’s role as an advocacy body.” Liz Cameron, chief executive of the Scottish Chambers of Commerce, said: “It is a great pleasure to see Lanarkshire take its

New Chamber Board nominee John McDougall

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place again among Scotland’s 26 chambers and its re-accreditation is a great tribute to the hard work and determination of the new board.” The President of the new board will be John Brown, chief executive and founder of the Life Skills group of companies, who has more than 26 years’ experience of senior management in private and public organisations. The other individuals who will be proposed for election as board members of the Chamber at the AGM in January 2014, are: Jim McCaffer, Head of Regeneration at South Lanarkshire Council, who will also represent North Lanarkshire Council; John McDougall, chief executive of the Centre for Engineering Education and Development, which promotes consensual improvement of business performance; and Jim Corcoran, managing director of Central Scaffolding. Two other appointments to the board are likely to made in the near future. Mr Kennedy explained that the Chamber had lost its accreditation because its constitution was incorrectly drawn, it was not engaging sufficiently in member development and had been under financial pressure. One of the first tasks was to provide fixed term appointments within the new constitution to ensure a continual refreshment of talent and commitment among board members. It will split its membership, which currently stands at 380 companies, into sub-groups based on sectors such as Logistics, Finance and Business Support, Food and Drink and Engineering and Manufacturing, to foster more effective relationships with bodies involved in the procurement process. It will also act as an agent of government to provide certificates of origin and movement certificates to aid Lanarkshire’s growing effort in international export markets Mr Kennedy said: “Only six of the 26 Chambers are accredited to the British Chambers and Lanarkshire is bigger, on a per capita basis, than any of them. “When we achieve BCC membership, there will be huge commercial benefits. For instance, DHL gives BCC members who are exporting for the first time a 50% discount. There are other attractive deals in areas such as healthcare and the exporting space - help with letters of credit and so on. “We will facilitate business networks which can be vital to exporters. The BCC has contacts at the highest government, financial and business level in export target countries all over the world. “We will also facilitate deals to benefit members and provide a centre of advocacy, offering expert advice for the business community on areas such as business rates, fiscal intervention, corporate taxes and even the pros and cons of HS2 for Scotland. “However, attractive though all these things are, having a credible and functional Chamber of Commerce in Lanarkshire is a good thing in itself. We are all very glad to be back in business.”


Glencairn Crystal raises a glass to Queen’s Awards sales boost

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xporting is vital to the Scottish economy but often the documentation which accompanies the exporting process can be daunting and, if not strictly compliant, can cause costly delays and even potentially fatal loss of business. Glasgow-based exporter Xyrex Ltd, which manufactures a range of leading edge products for the fishing, seafood processing and aquaculture industries, has found the answer in the Lanarkshire Chamber of Commerce’s state-of-the-art documentation service. The company has a factory in Perth and strong markets in SouthEast Asia, particularly Thailand and Vietnam, as well as Latin America. It turned to the Lanarkshire Chamber after becoming disenchanted with the service it received from its local Glasgow Chamber. Gerry McGuire, managing director of Xyrex Ltd, said: “For exporting companies, without the correct documentation, nothing goes anywhere. Certificates of origin and invoice authentication of primary importance. “If there any issues with the documents, final delivery of the product can be delayed indefinitely. You can face demurrage charges, the customer doesn’t get his order and the effect on business can be disastrous. “The Lanarkshire Chamber is invaluable in that they check everything and having a Chamber stamp on the documentation gives it an authority which eases things immeasurably at the far end.” Mr McGuire said that previously he had to hand-write submissions, but now the Lanarkshire’s bespoke software means he can fill in forms on his laptop, email it over and pop in the next day to pick up letterperfect documents. “It’s like clockwork,” he said. “You are walked through every step. The Chamber’s system is brilliant - it’s worth its weight in gold. If we send incorrect documentation to Vietnam, for instance, where we do a lot of business, they will just send it straight back, causing huge delays. “The Chamber contacts are also invaluable. As a result of our dealings with it we are now members of the Thailand Chamber. The girls in the Lanarkshire office, Elspeth and Lynsey, deserve a big thank you for the efforts they make to help exporting companies. They are both top class people.” Xyrex Ltd’s product has unique properties for preserving seafood, particularly prawns, and is widely used for both caught and farmed products. It also has a substantial market share in the UK prawn fishing and farming market. For more information visit www.xyrex.com or call 0870 402 0660.

Cheers to export success at Glencairn Crystal

Lanarkshire CHAMBER OF COMMERCE BUSINESS MAGAZINE

Chamber aids exporter to bumper catch with its documentation service

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Fresh from Scotland’s seas: yummy prawns are loved by Madrilenos

hen members of Lanarkshire family business Glencairn Crystal want to raise a glass in celebration of the company’s outstanding international achievements, they have the very receptacle to hand. Founder Raymond Davidson designed the definitive glass for whisky - a flowing tulip-shape with a solid base - to stand alongside classic brandy goblets, champagne flutes and wine glasses. It has made the company £2 million and now sells in 44 countries around the world. The innovation, which was applauded by whisky aficionados the world over, won the East Kilbride-based company the Queen’s Award for Innovation six years ago and last year the sales it generated helped win another Queen’s Award for International Trade. Raymond Davidson, whose sons Paul Scott and Andrew now handle the day-to-day running of the 50-employee, £5 million turnover firm, said: “Our glasses and decanters are sought for luxury markets in brandy, rum, port and even, recently, for a 100-year-old sherry. “Though 50% of the business we do is with the Scotch Whisky industry, we are called on for all sorts of special events, such as making a container for a 50-year-old rum to mark the 50th anniversary of Jamaican independence.” Mr Davidson said that the cachet which attaches to the Queen’s Award is invaluable, especially in overseas markets. He said: “It gives a provenance and a gravitas to what we are doing. “Image is everything in our business. We are dealing with the very top end of the luxury goods market, using our products to enhance other products from some of the world’s most exclusive brand names. “Customers in export markets seem to attach great significance to the Queen’s Award and want to be associated with it. We use it extensively - but, of course, discreetly - in our marketing material, business cards and website.” Mr Davidson said that there is a rich harvest to be reaped for Lanarkshire companies, whether in export markets or operating domestically, in association with the Queen’s Award, which is the highest honour that can be bestowed on a UK company. He said: “If you have a story to tell, then you must let people know in order to gain the recognition and encouragement that your business deserves. Entering for the award requires the preparation of an in-depth dossier and making a presentation, but there is no doubt that the effort involved is well worth it.”

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Cover story

Get in touch if you have a cover story idea incommerce@lanarkshirechamber.org

With a proud history and a vibrant present, Hamilton looks forward confidently to a prosperous future

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amilton has been washed by the tides of history. It has seen armies come and go, it has played host to kings and dukes and it has freely given its sons to fight for freedom in the world’s most terrible wars. It has also weathered the storms of both domestic and global economic crises, keeping a steady helm through recession after recession, watching industries wax and wane and continually bracing up for new challenges. However, it is not the past that Hamilton looks to now, but a 21st century future in which this vibrant town bounded by the Clyde and the Avon takes its place as a net contributor to a modern Scotland. This is bolstered by a dynamic and go-ahead business community which has strong new representation and support with the resurgence of Lanarkshire Chamber of Commerce, based in the town, and the forward-thinking Hamilton BID, which is bringing new life to the town’s commercial centre. There are many industrial and business parks in the town, providing employment in light industry and service industries with blue chip technologies in the Hamilton International Technology Park. Big employers in the area include South Lanarkshire Council, HSBC/First Direct, Parks of Hamilton and Lightbody Celebration Cakes. Hamilton, which was called Cadzow until 1445, became the Royal Burgh of Hamilton in 1548 and has been strongly linked to the influential Dukes of Hamilton ever since. Reminders of the Hamilton family’s association with the town include the Duke’s Hunting Lodge at the Adam-designed Chatelherault Country Park - named after a title bestowed on James Hamilton by King Henry II of France in the 16th century - and the impressive Hamilton Mausoleum, clearly visible from the nearby M74. The Hamiltons’ family history is told in the five-star attraction the Low Park Museum, the oldest surviving building in the town and proud home to the Cameronian’s regimental museum.

But while business people know how important a town’s tradition and heritage is, they are also aware that the best way to keep it economically and commercially healthy is to have a strong, beating heart. This is why 372 businesses in Hamilton got together in October last year to establish the Business Improvement District, a dynamic initiative in which businesses work together and invest collectively to improve their own business environment. This initiative was sponsored by Lanarkshire Chamber of Commerce who promoted the concept in Hamilton, enlisted the support of the local business community, and organised the vote for the establishment of the BID. Lesley Hamilton, of Elspeth Hamilton Perfumery at 5 Lamb Street, the chairperson of Hamilton BID, explained that the businesses got together as a marketing force to supplement and enhance the efforts of the cash-strapped local council.

“And what would Madame care for today?”: Lesley in sales mode


Park’s of Hamilton, still wholly owned by Douglas Park who founded it in 1971, is one of Scotland’s largest and most successful motor groups, operating a diverse portfolio of luxury, niche and volume franchises from various locations throughout Scotland and providing quality jobs in Hamilton and the surrounding area. However, in Scotland’s jobs market, every silver lining has a cloud and the town was hit in the late summer by the news that more than 130 jobs were to go at the Hamilton factory of Dutch electrical giant Philips. The losses are as a result of a decision to phase out the manufacture of light fittings at the facility, although 100 jobs will remain for production of low pressure sodium lamps for the global market. Hamilton is not short of diversions, with the Strathclyde Country Park just a short walk over the Clyde from the Hamilton Palace grounds, the thundering hooves of horse racing at Hamilton Park racecourse and regular thrills and goals at Hamilton Academicals football ground. The Clyde Valley National Tourist Route leads from the town to tranquil, bucolic pastures With up-to-the-minute shopping and a huge variety of bars, clubs and restaurants, Hamilton is fast becoming a model for a modern Scottish town.

Lanarkshire CHAMBER OF COMMERCE BUSINESS MAGAZINE

Chatellerault: the Auld Alliance lives

Hamilton town centre: BID initiative is bringing improvements

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She said: “It was a way to generate a pool of money which could be used to improve the town. We are in year one of a fiveyear programme and already we have an excellent website and we have run super entertainments and street events for local people. “The mission is to increase the footfall of people in the town. Our strongest competition is out-of-town shopping centres and online commerce and we want to remind shoppers that there are lots of independent retailers here who are offering something a little bit different. “My own business has been going for 28 years and there are another 371 businesses in the designated zone including restaurants, clubs and pubs which are so important to the night time economy. We will be staging a comedy festival soon to help them.” Hamilton BID is funded by a levy ranging from £250 a year upwards, which produces a marketing budget in excess of £250,000, or £1.25 million over the course of the plan. It will be organising a greatly extended Christmas lights switch-on period this year, in conjunction with South Lanarkshire Council and will be providing six weeks of weekend entertainments, as well as live reindeer and craft fairs. Ms Hamilton said: “It’s all about the businesses trying to do something to help themselves. For instance, we have introduced vinyl graphics on to empty properties to improve the look of the town and to draw attention to the fact that these units are available.

“The council has been a great supporter and advisor with the setting up of the BID. South Lanarkshire pays a considerable amount into the levy fund as there are several large council buildings within the designated BID area.” In terms of employment in Hamilton, services are to the fore, with South Lanarkshire Council being one of the biggest employers. HSBC, the parent bank of First Direct, also provides significant numbers of high quality jobs at its customer associate call centre. Lightbody Celebration Cakes, formerly the family run company of Martin Lightbody and now a subsidiary of the Finsbury Food Group, has recently confirmed its commitment to the town and its high quality workforce with major investment at its plant in Bothwell Road. The company has moved to high volume production of cake bars and bite size products for household names such as Thorntons Chocolates and its manufacturing capability has exceeded all expectations.

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SELECT honours two Lanarkshire-based businesses at annual awards ceremony

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wo Lanarkshire-based businesses dominated the recent annual awards ceremony of SELECT the campaigning trade body for the electrotechnical industry in Scotland. Crown House Technologies, an off-site manufacturing specialist whose Scottish regional office is at Eurocentral, near Motherwell ,tore up the record books by scooping not only the Electrical Contractor of the Year Award, but also the prizes for the Best Electrical Safety Project and the Best Use of Training.

Not to be outdone, East Kilbride-based International energy specialist, Schneider Electric, was awarded the Best New Product prize for the launch of Acti 9, the brand new reference in low-voltage modular systems, designed to offer commercial and industrial users total controllability of their electrical setup. Schneider, which operates in energy management in more than 100 countries, is focused on making energy safe, reliable, and efficient. The company has in excess of 110,000 employees worldwide.

Electrical Contractor of the Year Sponsor: Megger Winner:C rown House Technologies

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Lanarkshire CHAMBER OF COMMERCE BUSINESS MAGAZINE

L-R:Simon Wood (Megger), Colin O’Brien & Danny Leadbetter (Crown House Technologies), Des Clarke

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Best Use of Training Sponsor: SELECT Winner:C rown House Technologies L-R:Newell McGuiness (SELECT), Colin O’Brien (Crown House Technologies), Des Clarke


Best Electrical Safety Project Sponsor: Electrical Safety Council Winner:C rown House Technologies L-R: Bryn Walker (ESC), Stuart Cullen (Crown House Technologies), Des Clarke

Best New Product Sponsor - Voltimum Winner – Schneider Electric, Acti 9

Its smart, safe and simple Acti9 solution provides a modular system with flexible and adaptable properties for an energy world where electrical needs are continually escalating. The system, from a manufacturer with a long, proven history of product quality, brings monitoring and control capability to low voltage electrical distribution boards for commercial buildings. It easily connects to any facility management system, enabling simple, error-free installation, performance and maintenance. With pre-fabricated wiring for instant connectivity, it saves 40% of the time spent with conventional control wiring. David Forrester, Head of Services at SELECT, said: “The judges were particularly impressed by how much consideration had been given to simplifying installation, interoperability and maintenance - key factors for clients and contractors. “Additionally, at a time when automation of building control systems is growing, this product clearly forms part of a wider strategy for the future shape of building control systems.” The awards were presented at a glittering gathering at the Radisson Blu in Glasgow city centre in October hosted by BBC personality Brian Taylor. It was attended by a wide range of companies, from major electrical enterprises to local firms, illustrating the diversity and strength of Scotland’s, and Lanarkshire’s, electrical sector.

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Presenting the award to Crown House, David Wright, Head of External Affairs at SELECT, said: “Our Contractor of the Year is a company that continues to impress with its electrical work. “The attention to detail in every aspect of its business is a marker for the industry and, with an impressive upturn in its Scottish business over the last year, our winner’s commitment is equal to its ability to carry out major contracts for hugely satisfied clients.” To win the award for Best Electrical Safety Project, sponsored by the Electrical Safety Council, Crown House Technologies undertook the completion of an extension to the existing 11KV ring main within Glasgow Airport, to accommodate a new Gama Aviation Hanger. It carried out the works with minimum disruption to Glasgow Airport and other stakeholders in the area. Similarly, for the Best Use of Training, Crown House Technologies developed the ApprenticePlus training scheme to enforce more rigour in its apprentice recruitment, emphasising the company’s desire to attract and retain the brightest and the best in the business at all levels. Alan Graham, of Crown House Technologies, said: “This industry is peopled with skilled technicians, innovative thinkers and safety conscious managers. We are very pleased to be able to make our contribution to maintaining standards at the highest possible levels.” Schneider, which operates in energy management in more than 100 countries, is focused on making energy safe, reliable, and efficient. The company has in excess of 110,000 employees worldwide.

Lanarkshire CHAMBER OF COMMERCE BUSINESS MAGAZINE

L-R: Margaret Fitzsimons (Voltimum), Colin Forfar (Schneider Electric), Des Clarke

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Chamber Members’ News…

Get in touch with your stories incommerce@lanarkshirechamber.org

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Lanarkshire CHAMBER OF COMMERCE BUSINESS MAGAZINE

Japanese knotweed: a menace in the undergrowth

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Mortgage cheer in new attitude to Japanese Knotweed

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he understandable fear that Japanese Knotweed can blight a property – and it is not uncommon in Lanarkshire and the west of Scotland - has been substantially eased with the increasing acceptance by mortgage lenders that it can be regarded as similar to other long-standing threats to property such as dry rot or rising damp. This follows discussion between the Council of Mortgage Lenders and the surveyors’ professional body, the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors, (RICS) which has convinced insurance underwriters that they can offer guarantees on Knotweed eradication work carried out by reputable and accredited companies. The new attitude to the problem of the alien superweed - which thrusts tough roots, or rhizomes, deep into the earth, forcing into

cracks in concrete, brickwork or road surfaces - is the result of a paper published last year after the RICS consulted extensively with eradication experts. In order to be considered for an insured guarantee, companies working in the field will have to attain and maintain the highest possible standards. They will have to be audited and scrutinised, be in good financial standing, use qualified staff and comply with all statutory requirements. Removal of Knotweed is a time-consuming and difficult business. It can be spread from small parts of the plant in garden waste or carried on footwear. A Knotweed leaf can lie dormant for up to 20 years before once again springing to life and causing another infestation. Companies which have the professional capacity to deal effectively with the fallopia Japonica nuisance become part of the Governmentbacked Trustmark scheme when they are accredited. Mortgage lenders will expect the presence of Japanese Knotweed to be noted on a residential valuation report. RICS red book guidance requires the valuer to indicate the presence of invasive vegetation. But the changed attitude to the plant will emphasise that it can be treated and that proper and efficient management of the problem is of the essence. Issues will remain, of course, when Japanese Knotweed is present not in the subject property but nearby. However, hopefully the guidance from RICS will go a long way to persuading lenders that the risk can be acceptable even in the absence of a treatment plan and guarantees. Eric Curran is a partner in the Glasgow North office of DM Hall Chartered Surveyors. www.dmhall.co.uk


New Year, New Opportunities says Hamilton-based vehicle finance boss

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“Joining the Lanarkshire Chamber is a key part of our marketing strategy to get ourselves better known as reliable, efficient brokers who can help our customers’ car dreams become a reality. We are based in Cadzow Street Hamilton and welcome hugely any approaches which our fellow Chamber members might like to make to us. We can assure you of our very best efforts to help.” The company is on a growth path, with turnover climbing dramatically in the past year, and just in sight of the psychologically important £250,000 mark. “Trading is good”, said Martin, “since there are some very low interest rate deals currently available and no early signs at least that interest rates are set to rise. We expect to write lots more business in 2014 as the public and businesses begin to get more confident about their futures. “The vehicle finance sector is about to see the introduction of new legislation which, amongst other things, will focus on the handling of customer complaints. This should not be an obstacle for us because, up until now, we have had next to no complaints at all from our customers and that’s something I’m keen should continue.” For more information see Essentialvf.co.uk or contact Martin@essentialvf.com

L to R – John O’Neill and Martin Dolan, both Essential Vehicle Finance, with customer Ian Vance, MD of Premier Insurance Brokers, in front of Range Rover Sport funded for him.

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Lanarkshire CHAMBER OF COMMERCE BUSINESS MAGAZINE

ewly joined Lanarkshire Chamber of Commerce members, Hamilton-based Essential Vehicle Finance, is looking forward with relish to 2014. “As the economy improves we are seeing more and more companies and individuals coming to us to ask about arranging finance on their new cars”, said Martin Dolan, 32, who, with his business partner, John O’Neill, has many years of experience in the vehicle finance sector. Essential Vehicle Finance was established in 2002, initially as Jigsaw Finance (Scotland) but changed both its name and its ownership in 2009. Martin, whose background includes a lengthy period working for BMW Financial Services, joined the business in June this year, joining John O’Neill who shares a similar career background. “We are brokers and our aim is to arrange the most appropriate and competitive finance facilities for both private and business customers looking to buy cars”, said Martin. “Up until now we have tended to be a re-active business, responding to requests for customer for finance packages from some of the top dealership in the west of Scotland. Of late though, we have been seeking to deal directly with business owners, companies and individuals who want the best finance deal available.

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Welcome to the Dalziel Park: You’ll enjoy your stay

Details of the event are as follows: •

Thursday 30th of January 12pm-1.30pm

12pm: Light buffet lunch

12.30pm: Guest speaker from Visit Scotland

1pm-1.30pm: Networking

1.30pm: Tour of Dalziel Park Hotel’s facilities if required

Set in the peace and tranquillity of mature woodlands with a 9 hole golf course, fourteen bedroom hotel, bar, brasserie and stylish restaurant. Dalziel Park Hotel is your one-stop destination for mixing business with pleasure. Dalziel Park is situated just a short distance from the M8 and is easily accessible from Edinburgh or Glasgow, making it an ideal location for any business meeting. To book a place at the networking event please email Charlenec@lisini.co.uk or call 01698 863905 for more information.

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ormer architectural photographer, Julie Charles, has joined the Hamilton branch of DM Hall LLP, one of Scotland’s biggest independent firms of chartered surveyors and a long-standing member of the Lanarkshire Chamber, as a building surveyor. A graduate of Glasgow Caledonian University and holder of an HND in architectural conservation, she is currently on schedule to qualify as a member of the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) in 2015. Julie said: “I am very pleased to have joined DM Hall. I enjoy the variety of work that is carried out by the Building Surveying department and I have found, ever since I joined, that every day is different.” Before entering the surveying world Julie worked as an assistant photographer and, latterly, as a volunteer with the National Trust for Scotland, specialising in architectural conservation issues. Partner at DM Hall and head of the building surveying team, Andrew McFarlane, said “Julie is a very welcome new member of the team and her presence bolsters our offering to the market. Her experience in architectural conservation adds yet another string to the building surveying team’s bow.”

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n opportunity to set yourself up for a successful 2014 is available to Chamber of Commerce members and others at a business networking event at Motherwell’s Dalziel Park Hotel on Tuesday 30th of January from noon until 1.30pm. Top of the agenda will be a presentation from Visit Scotland on the partnership and other business opportunities for local companies arising from the forthcoming Commonwealth Games. With the level of tourism in Scotland likely to be at an all-time high the opportunities for local businesses are significant.

Julie joins DM Hall’s property team as a building surveyor

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Network your way to more business in 2014 at Dalziel Park

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BACKGROUND TO THE WASTE (SCOTLAND) REGULATIONS New regulations to help Scotland become one of the most resource efficient nations in Europe were passed by the Scottish Parliament on 9th May 2012.The regulations support Scotland’s focus on waste reduction, reuse, enhanced recycling and recovering renewable energy from what remains. Specifically they focus on achieving Scotland’s ambitious target of recycling 70% of all waste by 2025.

THE LAW ON BUSINESS WASTE IS CHANGING. If you haven’t got your business recycling sorted by January, you’re risking a penalty. As of 01 January 14, businesses will be legally required to separate plastic, metal, glass, paper and card and, in many cases, food for collection. If you run a food business, you require a food waste service by: • 1 January 2014 if your food business produces over 50 kg of food waste per week. • 1 January 2016 for all food businesses producing over 5 kg of food waste per week. Where food collections are available, it will be illegal to dispose of food into the public sewer, for example, by using a macerator.

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01 JAN 14: TIME OUT If you haven’t got your business recycling sorted by January, you’re risking a penalty. As of January 14, businesses will be required to separate metal, plastic, glass, paper and card and, in many cases, food for collection. Get sorted now. Call us now for a free waste audit and find out why we’re chosen by 96% of Scottish councils, Scottish corporates and thousands of Scotland’s local businesses. www.viridor.co.uk/scotlandvwaste Waste (Scotland) Regulations hotline: 0141 781 9151


Community groups and small businesses given helping hand from SSE wind farm funds

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Lanarkshire CHAMBER OF COMMERCE BUSINESS MAGAZINE

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Ciara Wilson (left), SSE’s Community Investment Advisor, with Janice Park (right) from the Handmade Shortbread Company, Hamilton.

ommunity groups and small businesses in the South Lanarkshire area are continuing to benefit from SSE Renewables’ Clyde Wind Farm Community and Development Funds associated with the operational 350MW Clyde Wind Farm, situated between Biggar and Moffat. Both funds are now in their 3rd year of operation and to date nearly 100 applicants have benefited; providing support for many local projects and initiatives. The fund, worth £700,000 per annum in total is one of the biggest community investment funds in Scotland and was launched towards the end of 2011, during the construction of the 152 turbine project. The Clyde Wind Farm Fund is made up of two elements - the Community Fund (which receives 70% of the annual budget) focusing on local community projects and the Development Fund (which receives 30%) focusing on local economic, business development and environmental issues. The fund is managed by South Lanarkshire Council in partnership with SSE. The Community Fund is open to community groups who live near the Clyde wind farm site and so far nearly £2.4m has been provided for local projects, big and small. To date, awards include £110,000 to the Biggar Rugby Club for improvements to their grounds and £72,000 to the Rural Development Trust in Lanark to fund a community transport project with two new minibuses. The Development Fund, worth £210,000 per year, is designed to help local businesses in South Lanarkshire achieve their business aspirations and encourage economic growth in the region. The fund is open to organisations and businesses throughout South Lanarkshire enabling them to improve their facilities or increase employment opportunities. Recently the Development Fund has provided support to the Big Red Barn Project which will see the creation of a new café and retail facility at Dolphinton near Biggar and a Skills and Employability Project in partnership with local colleges and South Lanarkshire


Development fund. We are pleased that so many local businesses and community groups were able to benefit from the fund and progress projects that have made a meaningful difference within their community.” For more information on how to apply for the Clyde fund please visit: www.southlanarkshire.gov.uk/downloads/file/647/ clyde_wind_farm_fund_leaflet or contact John Archibald at South Lanarkshire Council who manages the fund on SSE’s behalf, John’s number is 01698 455181.

Lanarkshire CHAMBER OF COMMERCE BUSINESS MAGAZINE

Council, providing unemployed South Lanarkshire residents with key employability and industry led training to meet the demands of Industry. SSE has, for a number of years, established local funds as our way of saying thank you to the communities which host our wind farms. Ciara Wilson, SSE’s Community Investment Advisor said: “SSE is proud to have supported so many fantastic projects within the South Lanarkshire area through our Clyde Wind Farm Community and

The Rural Development Trust Minibuses, funded by the Clyde Fund

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Celebrating success: Biggar Rugby team

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Lanarkshire CHAMBER OF COMMERCE BUSINESS MAGAZINE

Lanarkshire based lifeSKILLS wins innovations in training accolade at Scottish Training Federation awards ceremony

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From left to right – Tommy Docherty from the Scottish Football Association, Gerry Croall, Business Development Director at Lifeskills, David Nicol, Training Manager at Lifeskills and Stuart Leitch, Chairman of STF.

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ifeSKILLS, the Hamilton-headquartered skills training business whose Scotland-wide training branches help turn out thousands of work-ready candidates each year, has won a prestigious award from the Scottish Training Federation (STF). The Provider of Quality Training Award, sponsored by the Scottish Football Association (SFA), was made to Lifeskills for the leading edge it has created in providing the highest standard of training and support to its staff team across Scotland, from the Shetland isles in the north to the Scottish Borders in the south. The standard of in-house training and support provided by Lifeskills has enabled their staff to find new and effective methods of instructing and encouraging young and not so young people to acquire the necessary skills to help them back into the workforce. Business development director, Gerry Croall, said: “it is a great honour to be recognised by our peers in the skills training sector. Our staff are our greatest asset and we work very hard, all year round, to

ensure that we give our team all of the tools and support they need to deliver the highest possible standard of service to our customers. In the current economic climate the quality of our service is vital to ensuring that we help as many people as possible to enter and sustain employment. “This award gives us huge encouragement to renew our efforts to help those who want to enhance their career opportunities.” Lifeskills run courses on a huge range of vocational skills including retail, hospitality, child care, sales, construction, administration and many more. The company also provides training courses for employers to enhance their employees’ skill sets. The prestigious Scottish Training Federation award ceremony, which was held in Crieff Hydro late September, saw a range of training organisations recognised for their achievements.

lifeSKILLS c e n t r e s


The award-winning New A-Class.

Style A long low stance complements dramatic sweeping lines. This distinctive look is the spearhead of a bold new Mercedes-Benz design philosophy.

Efficiency Advanced fuel injection and turbo charging technology ensures maximum power with remarkably low fuel consumption. Producing the lowest ever CO2 levels of any Mercedes-Benz, the A 180 CDI SE delivers just 98g/km with up to 74.3 mpg and 14% BIK.

Innovation Fitted as standard is the Audio 20 CD/radio, which features a 5.8” colour display, telephone keypad, USB port, and Bluetooth connectivity. COMAND online is available as an optional upgrade, a cloud-based multimedia system providing in-car internet access.

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Lanarkshire CHAMBER OF COMMERCE BUSINESS MAGAZINE

Safety

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The new A-Class offers core safety technology found across the range. Active Bonnet raises the bonnet level before an impact occurs, while Attention Assist helps to combat driver fatigue. In addition, the new A-Class is the first compact car to incorporate radar-based collision warning system, which works with other safety innovation such as Brake assist and Collision Prevention Assist. With everything the new A-Class has to offer, no wonder it won the title of ‘Best New Car’, and Mercedes-Benz the ‘Most Improved Fleet Manufacturer’ at the Fleet World Car Awards 2013. Contact our Mercedes-Benz West of Scotland Corporate Department today for more information on the A-Class or any other Mercedes-Benz model: Edward MacLean on edward.maclean@stratstone. com or 07971 309574 and Lauren Bowman on lauren. bowman@stratstone.com or 07736 362 068. Or visit mercedes-benzwestscotlandsmallbusiness andfleet.com

Networking for Success in Rutherglen/ Cambuslang

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roductive networking is the aim of the new Rutherglen/ Cambuslang Local Business Network which had its first meeting at the Burnside Hotel and which generously provided free hospitality, on 8th November. Representatives of over forty local businesses, organisations and charities got together to talk business and were joined by local politicians, James Kelly MSP and Tom Greatrex MP. The event opened with a welcome speech from Network founder, Gary Hosie of PTS Clean, who spoke briefly about the business opportunities for the network, followed by a brief but informative talk from Mary Hernon MBE from The Department of Work & Pensions, primarily regarding her recent designation to the area working with local employers to provide young people with work experience and opportunities for work. Ms Hernon spoke also about her charity, Dress for Success which helps provide unemployed women with suitable clothing for attending interviews. Gary Hosie said that with vast amounts of regeneration going on in the local area and the forthcoming Commonwealth Games it was the perfect time for a new generation of Local Business Network. “The mix of different people and businesses at the event was really what made it so successful; attendees included the owner of a Rutherglen-based business which had traded locally since 1915 as well as the owner of a brand new enterprise which only started up last month!” he said. Whilst the main focus of the group is on Rutherglen/Cambuslang and the surrounding area, Lanarkshire Chamber of Commerce’s representative at the meeting, Ellen Begley, indicated that there should be potential for an affiliation of sorts which could provide further opportunities for members.


Left to right: Robert and Vivian Kyle (RAD Owners), Nikki Andrew, John Brown (Chamber President), Neil Kennedy (Chamber CEO), Ellen Begley (Chamber Business Development Manager) and Lynsey Kennedy from the Chamber.

Nicky Lowe (left) and Ian Burt (right) enjoy some networking with local business people (from left) Stuart White of Century 21st, Maureen Barradell, of Department of Works and Pensions, and Alan Russell, Wise Property Company.

By Malcolm Southern

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usiness owners who need guaranteed high levels of insurance protection with a major provider, and without the need for medical evidence, need now look no further. We have secured a near-exclusive deal which will bring peace of mind to many hard-pressed family business owners. For Chamber members employed by their business, the company can pay the life insurance premiums; this is a business expense and is likely to be an allowable deduction against Corporation Tax. Business Protection helps client-owned businesses continue to trade should any owners die or become terminally or critically ill, while cash flow can be protected whilst key individuals are replaced. Banks may insist on personal guarantees from so in the event of their death the bank may go direct to the estate to claim the whole amount. The protection plan ensures that the whole amount of any loan can be paid off in the event of the loss of a key director. Company employees benefit also from financial security in the event of a long-term illness or a critical illness. To qualify there needs to be a minimum of three insurable lives. For more information, contact Malcolm Southern, Southern Financial Services on 01698 269977, email: Malcolm.Southern@southernfinancialservices.com

Lanarkshire CHAMBER OF COMMERCE BUSINESS MAGAZINE

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s most business people are aware, networking is a must if you want to grow your Business. Two recent events, which each attracted good numbers, demonstrated the value of going out and networking. This Autumn, Lanarkshire Chamber of Commerce created a precedent in its member participation programme by staging a Networking Breakfast in a car showroom. The tradition-breaking event was hosted and sponsored by Evans Halshaw who laid on test drives and car wash facilities for Chamber members during the networking sessions at their premises in Main Street, Coatbridge. Sales Executive Nicky Lowe said: “We’re very happy with the way things went and have received quite a few e-mails from Chamber members who seemed to enjoy it: it was definitely a worthwhile venture.” And in November, over 80 members attended a very successful sell-out Networking event at the sumptuous Shawlands Park Hotel in Larkhall. New Chamber of Commerce President, John Brown told the gathering that Lanarkshire aims to become the best supported and most successful in Scotland.

As an Employer you need Protection

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News from the Networkers

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I Didn’t Get W here I Am Today… Name: Robert Sinclair Age: 45 What is your company called? Crystal Clear Windows (Scotland) Ltd What does it do? We manufacture bespoke PVCu wind ows, residential doors, conservatories and orangeries. What prompted you to choose this particular activity in which to create a business? After school I trained as a window fitter in the UPVC industry and spotted a business opportunity with in the industry.

Were there any sticky moments in the early stages? Not really. The products we sold were of good quality and satisfied our customer base which gave me ongoing follow-up and repeat business. How did you deal with initial setbacks ? Having a good business plan, promoting the company, listening and fulfilling our customers’ needs. Was there a particular moment when you realised you were on the path to success?  When we acquired a larger factory to fulfill growing demand. What constitutes a typical day? Starting at 7am and finishing around 9pm at What keeps you going? I love the buzz and the everyday chall enge

night.

s of the business.

What’s the best part of your day? Interaction with my colleagues What’s the bit that really irritates you? Negative attitudes

Who is your ideal employee? One who is enthusiastic, interested and has

a positive attitude.

Who is your nightmare employee? One who fails to turn up for work on a Monday following a football match. What’s the best advice you’ve had over the course of building a business?  Stay positive and objective in all your business decisions, and provide back-up to your customers. And the worst? Listening to airy-fairy time wasters. If you suddenly attained executiv e power in Scotland, what would be the first thing you’ d change? Reduced tax charges and no business rates in its first two years If you could pack it all in tom orrow, and still be comfortably off, would you?  No If you did, what would be your next move? Either start-up a new company and/or chill-out for a time in a warm country with my family. Any regrets?  None

Lanarkshire CHAMBER OF COMMERCE BUSINESS MAGAZINE

How quickly did the business take off? Through word of mouth, and quality prod ucts, the business took off almost immediately.

Have you had help from enterpris e agencies? I received a lot of help and support from Business Gateway.

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How did you get started? I opened my first company in 1989, manufacturing aluminium windows and doors, later fabricating UPV C products in response to the prevailing market requirements.  

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Procurement: the elephant in the room By Neil Kennedy

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Lanarkshire CHAMBER OF COMMERCE BUSINESS MAGAZINE

here’s a sure fire way of livening up any gathering of Scottish business people. Just lob in the word procurement, stand back and watch professionally calm and urbane demeanours dissolve into fizzing rage. The word procurement may be dull; the passions it engenders are anything but. Prefix it with the words “public sector” and watch the sparks fly. Everyone has a story to top the last example of bureaucratic absurdity. It is little wonder. The public sector in Scotland needs to buy things to fulfil its remit of providing a bewildering variety of public services. It has a purse of £9 billion a year to distribute among an even wider variety of suppliers. A rational person might think that situation presented a wonderful opportunity to support and invest in Scottish businesses, creating quality jobs for local people and providing a huge and continuing fillip to the Scottish economy. But the public sector procurement process is so hamstrung by rules and processes - originally designed to foster competition and fairness in tendering - that the fruits of this rich harvest of public money often seem to end up south of the border or abroad. The difficulty about local voices complaining about the procurement process is that it can sound like sour grapes: unjustified whingeing from companies which were not good enough to beat the competition.

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“There are few things as futile, however, as complaining about a situation without having some suggestions about how to improve it.”

But this is where the stories come in: •

In the national sphere, while currently there is political agonising about UK shipyard closures and huge job losses, the MoD last year placed a £425 million order for four Royal Fleet Auxiliary tankers - with yards in South Korea;

In our own back yard, Lanarkshire Business Week - surely a showcase for what we can do here - is organised by a company from Fife, and has been for years. But then, of the £1.5 billion spent by North and South Lanarkshire each year, only a small proportion of it remains in the county.

The procurement debate really hit the headlines in the summer of 2005 when a Polish shipyard undercut the Ferguson yard on the Clyde for a contract to build two fisheries protection vessels. Ministers insisted their hands were tied by EU rules which meant they had to open the tendering process to European yards. Since then, there has been prolonged political agonising about how to give indigenous enterprises a fair crack of the whip without falling foul of both UK and European procurement protocols.


the costs of having to be in it.There are few things as futile, however, as complaining about a situation without having some suggestions about how to improve it. The Lanarkshire Chamber of Commerce, newly re-accredited to the Scottish Chambers and with a strong new business-orientated board, is beginning a major campaign to use the power of its networks to bring people together for mutual benefit. For what we must remember is that dissatisfaction with the process cuts two ways. I have talked to executives of the bigger corporates and of local authorities about employing local companies and often the response is: “We’d love to, but we don’t know who they are.” A local window cleaner, for instance, is unlikely to get to see the head of procurement in a multi-million spending council. In the same way, the head of procurement can’t bring the local business on board if he doesn’t know it exists. The Chamber is making a serious commitment to improving the supply chain management of our bigger firms and local authorities and to this end is running a series of 12 monthly master classes on procurement in conjunction with councils and public sector organisations over the next year. We have to recognise that procurement officials have issues to deal with, and that business becoming fretful is no real help to them. We have to interact positively and engage with the process if we want to take the heat out of it. It’s in everyone’s interest to build a system which is fair, rational and seasoned with common sense. After all £9 billion is a big prize. Neil Kennedy is Chief Executive of Lanarkshire Chamber of Commerce

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Though the Scottish Chambers of Commerce disengaged from the argument on the grounds that the aims were not ambitious enough, there has been progress - and initiatives such as the Public Contracts Scotland portal and Project Bank Accounts are significant steps in the right direction. But tendering companies still have to contend with what Stephen Park Brown, founder of Bellshill-based NVT Group and long-term procurement campaigner, calls a “perverse sense of fairness” among procurement officials who appear to be paralysed by a fear of being blamed for partiality. It is generally accepted in business that competition is an excellent driver, challenging Lanarkshire businesses to be the best they can. However, where there is parity of expertise, it is difficult to see why the decision should not naturally favour the indigenous bidder. There is certainly a recognition - specifically stated in the Crawford/ Lewandowski Review of Scottish Public Sector Procurement in Construction - that the procurement process and its costs can be disproportionate to the planned spend. Even short tenders run to 27 pages, and they involve a scoring process in which key phrases gain points. There is a thriving industry in bid writers, who know which buttons to press and which boxes to tick - meaning that the public sector buyer gets the perfect bid, rather than the perfect supplier. Local authorities and government bodies have tried to address some of the issues by creating Frameworks - inclusion in which requires a 67-page application. If there are 20 companies in that Framework, and they are all invited to bid, they have to submit another 67-page form. It doesn’t shorten the process. And the majority of companies in the Framework get nothing out of it despite

Lanarkshire CHAMBER OF COMMERCE BUSINESS MAGAZINE

NVT HQ at Righead, Bellshill: always open for business

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Space to be themselves, learning together.

Strong academic results Equestrian and sporting academies Continued investment New Science Centre opens in August

Kilgraston, Bridge of Earn, Perth PH2 9BQ Telephone: 01738 812257. Fax: 01738 813410 email: headoffice@kilgraston.com www.kilgraston.com Kilgraston School Trust is a charity. Scottish Charity Number SC029664


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Donna Higgins, Director at Redgrange Consultants Ltd

Step back to go forward

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veryone knows their own business better than anyone else but sometimes we can be too close to it to spot early signs of failure. However smart management teams who acknowledge that intervention is necessary and who are then prepared to make the hard decisions that are necessary not only safe guard their business for the future but reap the rewards as the business grows and becomes a saleable asset. So we set to work, 12 months later the business is in excellent shape and we are reaping the benefits of all the advice given to us. The icing on the cake for us was that 5 months into the process Donna introduced us to a global logistics company looking to grow their business through acquisition. We are now part of a much larger group but still retain ownership of part of the company. Phase 1 of our exit strategy is complete and we couldn’t be happier. At a chance meeting last year I found myself in conversation with a director of a Lanarkshire specialist logistics company. It’s probably best if I let her tell her story...

additional ways in which I could support both the business and my co-directors. This was not what I wanted to hear, but I recognised that we needed to change if we were to survive and grow the business. “So we set to work: twelve months later the business is in excellent shape and we are reaping the benefits of her advice. Five months into the process Donna introduced a global logistics company looking to grow its business through acquisition, and we are now part of a much larger group but still retain ownership of part of the company. Phase one of our exit strategy is complete; we couldn’t be happier. “We continue to work in our now thriving business, where turnover has increased by 100 per cent, and our lives have been turned around. Donna supported us throughout the entire process and remains a key advisor. “I recommend that people consider bringing in the fresh ideas of a first-class consultant; they just get it and can understand most business on so many different levels.”

“I met Donna at a Women in Business event and the topic of conversation turned to family- run businesses and the challenges they face. It could have been our business she was talking about as she highlighted some of the many problems we were encountering. Donna explained her role as a strategic management consultant and how she could guide us towards a possible exit strategy. This was something we had never even considered. “After a long discussion about board members’ roles and responsibilities, Donna highlighted my role and quickly identified

Helen Devine, Logos Logistics Ltd, part of TPC Global Group Company.

Sometimes we need to take a step back to see the real issues in our business to identify essential solutions. It is much easier for a consultant with no emotional ties to be objective and offer advice, especially in a family business where there is often the family dynamic to consider. Donna Higgins is Director at Redgrange Consultants Ltd, M:07846 077415. www.redgrange.co.uk


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t. 1 9 6 4

ROXBURGH group

the business of trust

independent

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brokers

sales & letting

We are one of Scotland’s leading independent financial service companies founded in 1964. We’ve built our business on trust developing sound, long-term relationships with our clients and we would be delighted to discuss how we could help you. Visit us at www.roxburgh-group.co.uk Glasgow 0141 952 0371

Troon 01292 314313

Stewarton 01560-485333

Roxburgh Group is the trading name of J C Roxburgh (Financial Services) Ltd , J C Roxburgh (Insurance Brokers) Ltd and J C Roxburgh(Properties) Ltd and are registered in Scotland under numbers 417019, 417217 and 073801 respectively. Registered Office 151 Glasgow Road Clydebank Glasgow Scotland G81 1LQ. Both J C Roxburgh (Financial Services) Ltd and J C Roxburgh (Insurance Brokers) Ltd are authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority.

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Business rates pain demands relief

THE

Lanarkshire CHAMBER OF COMMERCE BUSINESS MAGAZINE

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34

ll businesses are under huge pressure in this economic climate and might have reasonably expected to receive support from the Scottish Government. Instead they have been hit by the empty property tax, the slashing of business rates relief on these properties and the announcement earlier this year that the review of business rates due in 2015 will now be postponed until 2017. Furthermore, unlike south of the border the SNP Government has not set up a transitional relief fund to cushion the blow for businesses in Scotland. Business rates are having a hugely adverse effect on the viability of business in Lanarkshire and throughout the country. This is primarily because today, businesses in Scotland pay rates that are based on 2008 calculations when the economy was thriving. However, local authorities can recalculate business rate valuations if there is a ‘material change in circumstances.’ Consequently, a group of businesses based at Fife’s Mercat Shopping Centre, to challenge their valuations arguing the dramatic change in the economy from the tone date (the 2008 date used to calculate the rateable value) was ‘a material change of circumstances’ that had affected the value of their properties. Yet, at tribunal Lord Gill, appointed by the Scottish Government in 2012 as Lord President, bizarrely held that there was nothing wrong

or unfair about basing the value of a property on a pre-recession tone date. Good news for the Scottish Government but it leaves Scottish businesses paying artificially high rates until 2017 and closes a legitimate avenue for businesses to challenge their current valuations. The Mercat case also impacted on the Business Rates Incentivisation Scheme (BRIS) a policy proposed by the Scottish Conservatives. It sets an annual target for the collection of NonDomestic Rate Incomes and allows a council if it collects more than its target, to retain a percentage of the excess. The Conservatives argued for 100% retention, the SNP decided on half that amount. In November 2012, with the outcome of the Mercat case pending, it decided the collection rates were artificially high and that councils would receive an unjustified windfall as fewer appeals had been heard in 2012/13. So the SNP government increased the BRIS targets and in doing so stifled any moves to revitalise our high streets and shopping centres with thriving business. No amount of tinkering with business rates under town centre regeneration proposals alters this unpalatable fact. Hard pressed businesses deserve support from this majority government which should reverse the deeply damaging decisions above which are undermining any prospect of economic recovery in our local communities and town centres.


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Lanarkshire InCommerce Issue 12  

Lanarkshire InCommerce Issue 12