Founded in 2008, like a number of engineering SME’s in the UK, RED grew up in the Offshore Oil & Gas industry where it carved out a successful niche developing and delivering bespoke equipment for offshore contractors and equipment suppliers.
Prior to the oil price collapse in 2015, 95% of RED’s turnover came from this sector. Fast forward 3 years and our business is growing and we now have active projects in the oil and gas, offshore renewables and nuclear decommissioning sectors.
Back in 2015, as our customers were responding to the dramatic change in the oil & gas environment by restructuring, laying off staff and freezing investment, it was a case of evolve or die. At that time we looked inward to fully understand our core business and how we add value for our clients. The conclusion we reached was that we were delivering practical engineering solutions to complex challenges with a proven fast rack recipe that reduced risk to our clients. The good news was that we believed that customers outside the oil and gas sector could also benefit from this service. The key question was which and how to get them on board….
Step 1 – Identification – generating a ‘matrix of opportunities’ (we had a wide range of industries from rail to fisheries, aerospace to defence on the list….) and giving each a score based on how good a fit we might be. The one that stood out was Nuclear decommissioning which appeared to have a number of complex engineering challenges where our experience in rapidly developing remote solutions and tooling would add value.
Step 2 – Engagement – having identified Nuclear decommissioning as an appropriate target, we used all the channels available to us to get to know the industry, its drivers, its challenges, its language and most importantly its people. This included attending conferences and exhibitions, gaining an industry mentor, participating in the Fit4Nuclear scheme and our MD, Joe Orrell spending a significant proportion of his time in Cumbria. We quickly learned that the commercial landscape of the Nuclear decommissioning sector was completely different to the oil and gas sector and understanding our route to market was going to be key.
Step 3 – Targeting – identifying the specific engineering challenges where we could add value and then focusing on these areas – which companies where already working on them, who was the owner of the challenge and where could we fit.
Step 4 – Demonstration – This was initially by developing and marketing our own ideas for addressing the challenges identified – for example the ‘Stobot’ a remotely operated vehicle to remove sludge, residuals and debris from storage ponds at nuclear power stations. This allowed RED to develop our credibility by showcasing our capabilities from a Nuclear decommissioning perspective rather than solely relying on our track record from the oil & gas sector.
Step 5 – Building Trust – the above ultimately led to the opportunity to work with existing suppliers to develop potential new approaches to specific Nuclear decommissioning challenges. The end client recognised that our high impact recipe and experience from outside the Nuclear industry could potentially be game changing. Small engineering consultancy contracts allowed RED to demonstrate its capabilities on live projects and win the trust of key stake holders and as a result we have now secured our first design and build contract to deliver equipment for the Nuclear decommissioning sector.
In summary, it’s not been a 5 minute journey (to date 3 years and counting….) and we’ve learnt that you need to be patient, learn the language, work hard and persist. To quote Churchill “Success is not final, failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts.”
In addition, standing by our core values as a business has been critical to our success. At RED, we have built the business on innovation and responsiveness and although the language and terminology may vary from industry to industry, our core offer and DNA remains consistent across all sectors.