Keith Gallacher.



What is your business called?

Complete Weed Control.

Where is it based?

Carluke, South Lanarkshire.

What does it produce, what services does it offer?

We provide ground maintenance and weed control along highways, construction sites, parks and other public areas throughout the Central Belt. We recently secured a fresh £30,000 three-year contract agreement with West Dunbartonshire Council which covers grass and hedge cutting along the verges of rural roads.

To whom does it sell?

To local authorities and businesses, principally those concerned with maintenance of the highways sectors. We don’t tend to get involved in the domestic sector.

What is its turnover?

In our last financial year, it was £950,000; we hope to break the £1 million turnover mark in the current year.

Covid-19 has impacted on our business. Our work is, however, essential though our clients need to continually assess their needs.

We follow the guidance of the Health & Safety Executive and comply with all the social distancing rules – one person in a van or truck, for example, when we might formerly have accommodated two.

Due to the nature of our work, social distancing is not too onerous. Broadly speaking, it all depends on the policies our clients put in place and on who they will permit on site. We have a number of contracts about to start and we have already seen a little bit of push-back from clients on the conditions under which we can get our work done.

Currently we have lost one site for the entirety of 2020. I am hoping that is all. However, it was a £15,000 a year contract so not a small one.

A new contract for work on caravan sites which was due to start has been withdrawn also.

How many employees?


When was it formed?

I formed the business in 2005 as a sole trader. I incorporated it as a limited company in 2011. We operate in south-east and south-west Scotland. I took over the Complete Weed Control franchise covering the south-west of Scotland in 2006 at the age of 19 and added the franchise for south-east Scotland five years later in 2011.

Why did you take the plunge?

Ever since I was a small boy I wanted to run my own business. My dad started, then sold successfully, a plant hire company before going on to start-up a civil engineering business.

What were you doing before you took the plunge?

Growing up in the Clyde Valley, I did Saturday work in the school holidays for farmers. When I was 17 I left Lanark Grammar School for Edinburgh University to study software electronics but though I enjoyed my time there, I lasted only one year. I found the cost of living too high and missed the good, regular money I had been earning when I was at school. I secured a place at Strathclyde University but while I was waiting to start the semester I spotted, with my dad, an advert for a Complete Weed Control franchise for south west Scotland. As I was

familiar with the agricultural world one thing I knew was that weeds are always with us. I liked the sound of it; it was practical and hands-on, so I took the plunge.

How did you raise the start-up funding?

I applied for and was awarded a Business Gateway grant of £1,000. Shortly thereafter I secured a £5,000 loan from the Prince’s Scottish Youth Business Trust (PSYBT). I also had some savings and support from my family. I secured a further £2,000 when I won the PSYBT Young Entrepreneur of the Year Award in 2009.

What was your biggest break?

Securing our first Highways Servicing contract for the Scottish Trunk Road Network in 2008. It gave us credibility in the sector and allowed us to put in place processes which have stood us in good stead ever since.

What are your ambitions for the business?

To continue to grow and to become known as the go-to people in our sector. We are steadily becoming more resilient, expanding our contracts, our kit and our people whilst always keeping an eye on the numbers. We have invested in a first class, full-time financial director, Kirsty Stewart- Brown, whose contribution makes my life much easier by providing us with accurate up to date financial information on which we can make informed business decisions.

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

Stick with their future pesticides strategy, be supportive of our industry; listen to the science and keep emotion out of it.

So far the Government has helped us deal with the impact of the coronavirus on businesses. Cashflow is, of course, fundamental and our FD always plots “worst case”, which is a great way of resilience testing our business daily.

Thanks to careful management we have managed to survive the worst of this pandemic. Customers are getting to grips with social distancing and what works can be carried out with proper risk assessment.

The furlough scheme has been excellent as our biggest cost is staff and without them our business cannot trade. So being able to hold together our skilled labour force has been crucial.

As we start to implement our resumption plan, having the key personnel allows us to hit the ground running again.

What was the most valuable lesson you learned?

Find a way to afford a good, experienced accountant; you cannot do everything yourself. Why should you struggle with a finance-related matter that will take you ten hours to resolve when someone who looks after financial issues for a living can do it in one hour.

How do you relax?

With my family, my wife Helen and my children, Grace, five and Struan, two, with one more on the way. I’ve got the rest of my life for hobbies.