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£7.5m private equity injection helps oil services expert grow

IN this week's SME Focus we hear from a Scottish oil and gas services firm which has won investment from one of the private equity businesses that are eyeing the sector for deals amid booming activity in the North Sea.

positive RELATIONSHIPS: Bryan Fagan, managing director of oil and gas services company RMEC, says his colleagues are more like an extended family than employees. Picture: Derek Ironside
positive RELATIONSHIPS: Bryan Fagan, managing director of oil and gas services company RMEC, says his colleagues are more like an extended family than employees. Picture: Derek Ironside

Name: Bryan Fagan.

Age: 39.

Position: Managing Director.

What is your business called? RMEC Ltd.

Where is it based?

Cotton of Pitkennedy on the outskirts of Forfar, Angus, on land which is part of company founder Alan Ramsay's family farm.

What does it produce, what services does it offer?

RMEC is an oilfield service company specialising in the manufacture, maintenance, repair, testing, recertification and rental of well services equipment for the oil and gas industry.

Who does it sell to?

Our customers range from large oil and gas operators such as ConocoPhilips and Total, through to service contractors including Halliburton, Altus Intervention and Baker Hughes. We're seeing huge growth in the area of decommissioning.

What is its turnover?

We've had a steady increase in our operations year-on-year since the company began and our turnover in the last financial year was just over £9 million. We have big ambitions and will be investing £2m over the next 18 months to treble our custom-built workshop site and increase our fleet of well-intervention equipment to support growth going forward.

How many employees?

We're currently at 22 with a further four joining by the end of the year. Apart from our new financial director Andy Paterson and myself, the entire team are from a 10-mile radius of the workshop so we're tapping into Angus' fantastic local talent base.

When was it formed?

Alan Ramsay founded RMEC from his family farmhouse in 2004.

As well as being a time-served agricultural engineer, Alan has a strong oil and gas background having worked for several well service companies. He saw the need for a specialist mechanical and hydraulic company to supply the operators with well intervention equipment. He put his house down as security, turned the family's farm equipment shed into a workshop and struck out on his own.

From there, the benefits from allowing companies the flexibility of renting certified equipment, rather than buying it outright, also became apparent. This side of the business started in 2009 and saw a steady uptake from the marketplace.

As Alan's family own the land, operating costs are considerably lower compared to our competitors in Aberdeen.

What were you doing before you took the plunge?

It's been a logical path for me. I started at Raytheon Systems in 1997 managing contracts for missile and satellite builds. With this experience, plus my chemistry degree, oil and gas seemed like an interesting avenue. I moved to the Balmoral Group in 2000, working in their composites division selling buoyancy and subsea products.

I left Balmoral Group in 2003 to help start-up Phoenix Polymers International Ltd. I then moved to Dominion Gas as sales director in 2009.

The company was private equity owned and was sold to Praxair Inc in 2013 and I was heavily involved in the deal process. As a result, I was asked to meet with the private equity firm Maven Capital Partners to see if there was any fit with anything that they were working on. Having really enjoyed working at Dominion Gas, I realised I thrived on the entrepreneurial side of business. RMEC looked like a really good proposition as Alan and co-director Stuart Mathers could see that the company had reached a point where it was ready for the next growth phase. I came on board as managing director in April, following an injection of £7.5m private equity by Glasgow-based Maven Capital Partners, which is enabling us to move forward very quickly.

How did you raise the start-up funding?

The start-up in 2004 was self-funded by Alan Ramsay.

What was your biggest break?

RMEC's growth to date is testament to the strategy of its founding directors. Along with the network of contacts built up from their previous lives, they deliberately avoided taking on too much too quickly.

What was your worst moment?

Despite having nothing but green fields all around us, the prospect of running out of space is looming. We're shortly going to be submitting expansion plans that, if approved, will allow us to treble the size of the existing facility from 65,000 square feet to more than 196,000sq ft. The hope is that in doing this we'll be able to increase our own workshop area along with hugely increasing our storage capabilities.

The Angus countryside is not on fibre-optic broadband yet so we've also had a few hairy moments in the past thanks to internet black holes.

What do you most enjoy about running the business?

Coming into work each day with people who are more like an extended family than employees.

What are your ambitions for the firm?

We want to increase revenue and profit year on year and we have plans to reach a turnover of £16m by 2019.

What are your top priorities?

This year is to make our commitment to our shareholders and investors by maximising revenue and profits. Alongside that, maintaining a happy workforce and building on it is also critical, as is customer retention, getting our site planning approved and new enterprise resource planning system for the business.

What could the Westminster and/or Scottish governments do that would help?

The best thing would be if some of the tax implications for the operators were relaxed, allowing them to open up new or existing fields. This would then flow down to the services and supply chain and have a positive impact on our business.

What was the most valuable lesson that you learned?

That "we're a' Jock Tamson's bairns" at the end of the day: It doesn't matter who you are or where you sit in an organisation, you treat everyone with the same level of respect that you would expect back. I think it's a Fife expression.

How do you relax?

I played football for Heart of Midlothian when I was at school and also enjoyed my time as an Aberdeen Football Club youth development coach before starting a family. So other than spending time with my wife, Marion, and my two boys, Cameron (four years old) and Andrew (10 months), then I'd have to say if I'm not kicking a ball with the boys, I'm watching it on the TV.

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