James Barry.



What is your business called?

Renewable Parts.

Where is it based?

Our Operations Centre is in Renfrew and we’ve just opened a Refurbishment Centre in Lochgilphead, about 85 miles north-west of Glasgow.

What services does it offer?

We provide parts to keep wind turbines operating. These include everything from oil, grease and filters to gearboxes, generators, blades and even entire turbines.

To whom does it sell?

Our customer base is incredibly varied and extends from the largest utility companies, such as ScottishPower Renewables, E.ON, Innogy and EDF, to farmers who may have only one or two turbines.

What is its turnover?

In the last financial year our sales were just over £3 million and we’re on target to almost double that this year.

How many employees?

15 but by the end of this financial year our headcount will have grown to over 20 people. We’ve recently launched an apprenticeship scheme for our refurbishment business.

When was it formed?

In 2011 by our entrepreneurial founder, Ewan Anderson.

Why did you take the plunge?

Having worked for 25 years in the Aerospace industry, I was looking for a change and I wanted to move to an SME that could provide a challenge. I was also looking to experience an emerging, fast-growing sector, which renewables most certainly is. Renewable Parts presented the opportunity for me to transfer my skills between sectors and from big business to small.

What were you doing before you took the plunge?

I have an Aeronautical Engineering background and worked for Rolls Royce making gas turbine engines for Airbus and Boeing aircraft. I was involved in both the design and performance of engines before moving into commercial, customer-facing roles. My time in the aerospace industry involved considerable global travel; I was lucky enough to work with some of the world’s most talented people in places like Toulouse, Hong Kong and Seattle.

How did you raise the start-up funding?

We are a privately-financed business. The start-up funding came from various loans as well as grants from Highlands and Islands Enterprise, which has been incredibly supportive. In 2012 our chairman, Angus MacDonald, came on-board and pledged money as an angel investor. Since then, he’s progressively invested in the business and is now our major shareholder. His unique blend of benevolent entrepreneurialism has been hugely important to our success and growth.

What was your biggest break?

Winning a contract to manage all of Innogy’s Nordex turbines in the UK was probably our biggest break. Working with such a large utility company gave us credibility, strengthened our business and, most importantly, acted as a catalyst for other businesses to take a closer look at what we can offer.

What do you most enjoy about running the business?

The diversity of work is extraordinary, and every day is different.

What do you least enjoy?

As a small business, sometimes it’s very difficult to persuade larger corporations that we can help them; deeply embedded cultures are hard to alter.

We are essentially a disrupter: we’re asking people to change what they do, to make different decisions and to innovate with us. Believing in something but failing to persuade others of the benefits can be demoralising but we’re optimists and we’re patient!

What are your top priorities?

Beyond growth and finding talent to drive it, Refurbishment Engineering is a massive priority for us right now and it was fantastic to open our new Refurbishment Centre in early October.

Wind energy is a green energy source but we must also run the industry in the greenest way possible. This includes recycling materials that are unserviceable and returning them back into market. It’s complicated and time-consuming, and high quality research is necessary to do it well. We’re proud to be working very closely with the University of Strathclyde and MIT to do just that.

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

Government’s role is to set the right environment and policy framework so that businesses like ours can thrive. I’d like to see an increased emphasis on the supply chain as that’s where our business is focussed.