LOOKING back on a successful few years for Glencairn Crystal director Scott Davidson admits things could have been very different unless his brother had not stumbled on a forgotten innovation of their dad Raymond’s.

Scott and Paul were wondering in 2001 how the decanter and gift supplier could move up a gear when Paul found a glass Mr Davidson senior had experimented with in the 80s when he wanted to provide an alternative to tumblers for whisky lovers. The glass featured tulip-like tapered sides that helped drinkers enjoy the smell of a whisky as well as the taste but Mr Davidson was not convinced he could make it work.

“He did this glass and he said well I don’t really know enough people and he put it on the shelf,” recalls Scott. “One day Paul goes well we do know a lot of people now and he said you know what I’m going to find this glass.”

It was a moment of inspiration that had implications the brothers could not have imagined at the time.

After retrieving the glass from a dusty cabinet Paul did the rounds of the master blenders who oversaw the distilling of whiskies such as Whyte & Mackay and got an encouraging response.

The company spent months fine tuning the design before deciding to invest £150,000 in taking the glass to market. The launch happened to coincide with a resurgence of interest in malt which few had predicted and the glass was an immediate success.

Fifteen years later Glencairn has sold millions of the glasses to drinks firms and direct to the public. The company has won orders from more than 60 countries.

Scott Davidson says the significance of the glass goes well beyond the revenues generated. The glass helped build Glencairn’s reputation as a company that really understood the whisky business and could help firms add value to their products.

The company now generate sales of around £7m a year supplying products such as decanters which drinks producers can use to show their products are special.

The range has featured a pyramid shaped bottle with silver stag which was used for Dalmore’s Sirius 58-year-old in 2009. The run was limited to 12 bottles, which sold quickly despite coming with a five figure price tag. Glencairn has worked on a series of launches for Dalmore.

The company sources decanters from suppliers but all the design and decorative work is done in East Kilbride, where the company is helping keep skills such as engraving alive.

Mr Davidson, 44, has been with the business most of his adult life and is clearly loving it.

Quick to smile, he tells anecdotes of a childhood rich in experiences acquired growing up around the gifts and glassware business started by his dad.

An engineer to trade Raymond Davidson became a star salesman for Matchbox toys before moving into glassware. He saw the writing was on the wall for UK producers in the volume trade while working at Edinburgh Crystal and decided to go his own way to focus on niche markets such as corporate gifting.

“It was always exciting, I grew up through high school and university meeting all of these guys who would come over from Czechoslovakia, Italy and Hungary. They would come to the house and you would meet everybody and you would understand the crystal industry a little bit more, which was a great experience.”

The sports fan got to know Ibrox stadium well … from the outside.

“My job at university was to pick up customers, I was the only one that drove in the family and drive them to Ibrox on a Saturday. I never saw a football match.”

But the move into the business full time came sooner than expected.

Glencairn was facing big challenges in the early 90s amid tough economic conditions. The young Mr Davidson cut short his studies in computer science and electronics at Strathclyde university before doing his honours year to help the firm work through tough times.

“I got my ordinary degree but I didn’t get a crack at it (honours) at the time because I was really over-committed by the time it all came around. It is frustrating but I look back and think is it really so bad.”

The business stabilised as the 1990s progressed and growth accelerated after it started selling Charles Rennie Mackintosh glasses in partnership with Gleneagles of Edinburgh.

The company found interest in decanters and premium packaging started to grow among drinks firms. Demand took off in the second half of the noughties as Glencairn capitalised on moves by whisky firms to ‘premiumise’ their products to help appeal to the new class of affluent consumers that was created by globalisation in countries such as China.

“Before you knew it everyone was trying to develop a premium container.”

The company has worked with a series of whisky firms ranging from giants such as Diageo to independents including Gordon & MacPhail.

The makers of other spirits are following the premiumisation trail to East Kilbride.

The company has worked with Bourbon producers in the US including Jack Daniel's and Rip Van Winkle.

Jack Daniel’s owner Brown-Forman has just agreed to pay £285m to buy the BenRiach malt business developed by Billy Walker in a deal that reflected huge confidence in the prospects for Scotch makers.

Glencairn recently struck a distribution deal with US glassware giant Boelter, which it expects to deliver a multi-million dollar boost to business. The company supplies its glasses to hundreds of US craft distillers

Sales increased by 15 per cent to £6.7m in the 2015 financial year and have risen strongly since then.

There is no sign of growth slowing in spite of the widely reported problems drinks firms face in China, where the economic slowdown and crack down on git giving has hit sales of Scotch.

Mr Davidson is delighted to be helping run a business that is achieving international success but has its DNA in Scotland and provides work for more than 50 employees.

He notes, however, that success brings responsibility: “Of all the things he (Paul) worries about he worries about his employees as much as anything. He thinks if we screw this up we get a punch on the nose but for everyone else around its tortuous. We’ve got 50 employees now; that’s 50 families.”