OEM power firm pushing for further growth

Greens Power factory

Wakefield firm Greens Power, which manufactures economisers and waste heat recovery systems for power stations and marine firms, is pushing for further growth.

The firm, which was established in the 1820s, reported a 27% growth in turnover to £9.2m in its last financial year, with £1.2m profit. Managing director Matthew Crewe is aiming to increase turnover to £11m and profit levels to £1.5m-£2m next year and has his ambitions set on growing to a £20m turnover business by 2021.

Crewe was part of an MBO of Greens in 2016 with backing from venture capitalist Rcapital. He first become involved with the firm as a consultant, looking to get the business back on track after it experienced a downturn. Overseas operations in Hong Kong and China resulted in disruption in trading.

Crewe said: “My focus was stabilising the business and getting out to see customers, rather than them waiting to come through our door; time doesn’t wait for anybody and so we have to chase that business.

“We (the management team) are taking nothing out of the business and the business is growing and continually innovating.”

This isn’t to say that Crewe isn’t anticipating the market being tough in the years to come, as he is fully expecting to adapt to the changes brought about by Brexit – especially given that some of the workforce are from Europe and are worried about how the changes will affect them.

However, Crewe said it was important to maintain the excellence the OEM company had built up over the years, especially as they operate in what he described as “the hard end of the market” which goes through constant cycles. All of the design and manufacturing process is undertaken in Wakefield, although a small percentage is manufactured in China.

“There are lots of good people in this business. Everywhere we go in the industry, everyone has heard of Greens,” added Crewe.

“It’s about high quality manufacturing standards. It’s absolutely about getting the right application for the power station to generate the performance that they require.”

International trade now makes up over half of the firm’s custom, manufacturing its specialist emissions reducing and efficiency improving economisers and shipping them as far as Dubai, Hong Kong and Bangladesh.

European business is also important to the company, but the two markets often want something different – with firms in the west seeking to reduce emissions and countries such as Bangladesh requiring power generation often for the first time.

Greens Power now employs around 50 people, across its manufacturing site and its separate office space in Wakefield. Next year, both will be based on one site in the city. The company also employs teams of people who install and maintain the economisers across the globe, including marine vessels.

The factory where the enormous structures are manufactured sees the whole process, from design to shipping, take place. A “typical” order takes between four and six months to complete because of the complex processes involved and the need to order large components in advance.

The team said that the welding is incredibly important, as the structures are put under immense heat and air pressure once in place. Therefore, they are tested under this pressure in the factory before being shipped. Often the size of the economisers mean co-ordination of police escorts for the lorries to proceed.  Each economiser has a lifespan of between 20 and 30 years.