Philip Harris.



What is your business called?

Vert Rotors UK Ltd.

Where is it based?

South Edinburgh.

What does it produce, what services does it offer?

Vert currently has two compressor products, the A100 and A150, both of which produce a quiet source of compressed air, capable of continuous operation close to the point of use. Our new A150 compressor provides class-leading low noise and vibration levels.

To whom does it sell?

Almost every manufacturing business in the world uses compressed air.

Our key markets are businesses and organisations active in fibre optic cable blowing, university research, scientific equipment and hand-held tools.

What is its turnover?

We are on schedule to generate £0.5 million of turnover in 2019. We have a clutch of bespoke equipment manufacturer contracts with customers including a US based aerospace company, the European Space Agency (ESA), a US-based refrigeration company and, on the horizon, a new deal nearing completion with a hand-held power tool manufacturer.

How many employees?

14 currently and budgeted to rise above 20 next year.

When was it formed?


Why did you take the plunge?

I joined Vert in May 2019, having been parachuted in to lead the commercialisation of the world’s first conical rotary compressor technology-based product. I joined Vert because I saw the potential to revolutionise an industry that has seen no significant technical advancement in over 40 years. It is a fantastic challenge on which I am thriving. It is also great to think that the work we do could significantly improve the working conditions of people who have to work in noisy manufacturing or workshop environments - it is much easier to concentrate when you are exposed to less noise.

The company was started by engineering entrepreneur Olly Dmitriev who had the original vision and drive.

What were you doing before you took the plunge?

My last role was with medical device company Clear Surgical in Larbert, where I was chief executive officer, and before that, at Sphinx Medical in Bellshill, Glasgow. I was CEO when we successfully exited the business to an Argentinian company.

I have held CEO roles for over 20 years now, with 30 in manufacturing in a wide range of industries, including precision engineering, satellite and telescope engineering, photographic and specialist materials. I have also held numerous non-exec positions and have advised many companies on structure, strategy and growth.

My original background was as a research chemist having completed my doctorate in chemistry working on the synthesis of novel superglues for surgical uses which then led to an early career with Ciba Geigy before joining one of its divisions at the time, ILFORD.

How did you raise the start-up funding?

Start-up funding was supported by the excellent business angel network that exists in Scotland, through Equity Gap and Par Equity. Additional funding was secured via a US based investment group, Aeroden, and the very supportive Scottish Investment Bank.

What was your biggest break?

Many years ago, as a young executive in a multi-centre manufacturing operation, I posed a question at a company briefing, having identified how much scrap was being produced. The CEO asked me to establish a team to resolve the issue, which resulted in a cost reduction of over £6m in 18 months.

This led me down a long path of restructuring globally and driving growth with several different organisations and ultimately to what I am doing today. Just by asking a key question.

What do you most enjoy about running the business?

I have always enjoyed the tremendous variety that manufacturing industries provides, and Vert is no different. From understanding the laws of physics and what is and is not possible, to contract negotiations and the challenges of cash flow management. However, undeniably, the most enjoyable element is working with a dedicated, hardworking and enthusiastic team. I am always amazed at how stunningly talented people can be and I always learn so much from them, which is a complete joy. I am a very lucky man.

What are your ambitions for the business?

We think we are disrupting what is a conservative and traditional industry and have really only just started. We shall continue aggressively to pursue sales in our first few target niche markets whilst also pushing the boundaries of the technology with a further development of the CRC technology that, I believe, will take the industry by storm

What are your top priorities?

The top priority is always to align a company with market needs and ensure valuable resources within the business are working, to “making the boat go faster” but also in the right direction. This can only be achieved with a shared vision when the board, the executive team and every employee understands the end goal and their contribution to getting there.

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

We already get tremendous help as a young entrepreneurial company from both the Scottish Investment Bank and Scottish Enterprise in terms of advice and practical support.

What was the most valuable lesson that you learned?

I learned from a very early age the distinct difference between leadership and management. Recognising that both are required when CEO of a business, in technological businesses it is all too easy to get over-immersed in technical details. It’s my view that we live in an over-managed world and that more leadership is required.

How do you relax?

Running in the hills and woods around Falkirk is key part of my life and I am in training for the over 90’s 5km race, the record for which is currently held by 96 year-old Roy Englert of Springfield, Virginia, but I’m playing a long game there. I’m also a keen martial arts participant, having studied Chinese Kung Fu for many years and enjoy cricket and gardening.