Name: Ian Kirk.

Age: 65.

What is your business called?

Vulcan Completion Products.

Where is it based?

Westhill, Aberdeenshire.

What does it produce, what services does it offer?

The company supplies a range of specialist tools that are used to aid the running and cementing of tubulars in oil, gas and geothermal wells.

To whom does it sell?

VCP sells directly to international operator companies and major players, as well as to headline service companies. We have also set up a network of sales distributors and agents in over 25 countries that represent us globally.

What is its turnover?

This year it was forecast that turnover would reach £3 million but, like many other companies, the Covid 19 coronavirus has meant we’ve had to tear up most of our plans, financial and otherwise. However, we will come back fighting at the earliest possible opportunity!

How many employees?


When was it formed?

Myself and my nephew Nathan worked on preliminary designs for about a year before we started, and the company was registered in the UK in 2017.

Why did you take the plunge?

The industry was going through a recession and it seemed to us that no other companies were focussed on improving any of the tools we specialise in. Cutbacks meant that the focus was elsewhere, so we thought the time was right. On a personal level, I had retired after a successful business growth journey at the age of 62, but I was quickly getting bored and I wanted the excitement of getting back into something. It was a great opportunity to use the lessons and experience of the past to build something new and exciting. The technology was there, the gap existed and the time was right.

What were you doing before you took the plunge?

Hillwalking, cycling, driving, jumping out of planes – and always thinking. After working all your life, you need to find other things to do when you retire. I had worked since I was about 13 and then I stopped all of a sudden. I’ve never had a nine to five job in my life and it’s always been all or nothing – and I went one from to the other all of a sudden.

How did you raise the start-up funding?

I didn’t have to raise the start-up funding because we had it from the sale of the previous business, Downhole Products. I did try to raise some money, but not one financial institution showed any interest at all. The oil industry isn’t ‘in vogue’ as an attractive investment any more

However, in spite of the frustrations, the way we were funded at the start means that we now have true independence and that, in turn, means that we are not tied to anyone or anything. That and our small, experienced team makes us nimble in getting things done because of our ability to make decisions quickly.– you don’t have to peel back the layers to get to the decision-makers. We are streamlined and efficient. At the end of the day the company is completely ours and is driven from a very different place than if it had been funded externally. But VCP is not just my business, it has very much been set up in the style of a workers’ co-operative. Just recently we issued company shares to all our employees so that everyone can be rewarded for what they do.

What was your biggest break?

It came during our first few months in operation when we were approached by a multinational organisation working within the Caspian region and asked to develop a centraliser product for an application they were having continued difficulty with.

What was your worst moment?

Not being able to borrow from the banks was very disappointing, and surprising. I had more than enough security and business acumen for what I needed to borrow but there was just no interest, even although I have always banked with the same institutions and they know every detail of my financial history.

What do you most enjoy about running the business?

It’s great working with a terrific team which is motivated and gets on with the job. I can’t relax and I have to be on the go all the time, but we have fun with our business.

What do you least enjoy?

There isn’t really anything I don’t enjoy – maybe apart from reading contracts! I find that ‘red tape’ has changed beyond recognition in the last 20-odd years and that’s a bit of a bind because it often means that the same deliverables take a lot longer to do - but we have to follow conditions and regulations, etc. to the letter to get the job done right in a modern marketplace.

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

There is supposedly a strategy of encouraging start-up businesses, but my experience is that it is a hollow promise because it’s not consistently followed through with access to things like decent SME funding. Yes, you can quite easily get a few grand for a coffee shop or hairdresser but our country needs to look at employment opportunities for more than just a few people. Our last company employed over 100 people and is still there today after 25 years. That computes to a lot of tax back to the country which is exactly what we’re going to require for the new future! There seems to be a very short-term view of things which, in my opinion and especially now with Covid 19, needs to shift up a gear to get businesses up, running – and lasting.