Guy Bromby.



What is your business called?

Thinjack Limited.

Where is it based?

Westhill, Aberdeenshire with representation in Australia, Brunei, Egypt, Malaysia and Vietnam. Up to 95 per cent of the business is export services.

What services does it offer?

The main service is ThinJack, for separating seized well parts on platform-based offshore oil wells.

The ThinJack itself pushes with hundreds of tonnes of force, precisely where the separation or supporting force is needed. It is an order of magnitude thinner and more powerful than any other lifting, pulling or jacking system.

Ancillary to this is a suite of complementary systems and technology.


To whom does it sell?

Oil and gas operating companies, worldwide.

What is its turnover?

Variable, depending on the number of projects in a year.

Downturns are part of business life, especially in this industry. We anticipated the latest by having a strong balance sheet and a tight fixed overhead: keeping staff numbers lean but consistent.

I’m optimistic now. Our recently launched services are paying back on significant speculative development and capital investment. We look forward to launching more services and products shortly.

How many employees?

5.1 full time equivalent. Our cleaner, Ian, is the 0.1.

When was it formed?

March 2005.

Why did you take the plunge?

Our family was returning to Aberdeenshire after a five-year contract overseas. We had always focussed on getting the best results for our employers and clients. So, we created the opportunity to deliver a little known technology as a service which we felt was sufficiently unique and promising to throw everything at. My wife, Lesley, and I started the company with another shareholder, who retired in 2016. Lesley and I now own 100 per cent of the company.

What were you doing before you took the plunge?

I was the Sales Director of Aquadyne A/S in Norway who deliver underwater positioning and mapping systems. Professionally, I qualified as a project manager and earlier as a Chartered Geomatics Surveyor. I worked on subsea and drilling campaigns. Not unusually in our industry, work has taken us to 22 countries from the Tropics to the Arctic.

How did you raise the start-up funding?

By extending the mortgage on our house; selling my skills part-time as a consultant; ruthlessly eliminating personal expenditure and (almost) starving ourselves by not drawing an income.

What do you most enjoy about running the business?

I love making decisions I feel are purely in the best interests of our customers and colleagues; minimal hidden agendas; challenging ourselves in the development of new revenue streams and working with great colleagues.

What do you least enjoy?

I loathe repetitive administration and multiple tendering processes.

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

The Scottish Government has world-class development agencies. The SDI international sales course we attended last year was 150% brilliant and we used every word of it in the following four months.

UK-wide business incentives are generally good but you need to find and dig them out.

A single source of direct data input, by us, into agencies’ systems would be hugely beneficial rather than their multiple requests for similar data.

What was the most valuable lesson that you learned?

Several, including the importance of seeking and nurturing people who can run significant parts of the business competently and increasingly autonomously. Also, to contract in business services of many types as there are some highly competent suppliers of niche support services and to regularly update your cash forecast.

How do you relax?

I volunteer as a supervisor for mountain expeditions for the Duke of Edinburgh Awards scheme.

Winter mountaineering and keeping fit with road cycling and ski touring, sometimes with Lesley, is critical for the soul.

Talking badly, and too much, in other languages.

I’ll start making wine again if the minimum alcohol pricing makes it unaffordable.