10 Years in Air Conditioning: Recovery and Growth

Abdul Akhtar

Abdul Akhtar

In our first ever blog post, we started to tell the story of how director Brian Drummond turned B-DACS from a one-man operation into one of Glasgow’s main air conditioning contractors.

Here, we pick up where we left off, explaining how we survived the economic crisis and started to look to the future once again.

Economic Crisis

The economic downturn is the biggest challenge that B-DACS has faced over the past decade and there were moments when Brian felt the business might have to close down altogether.

It was 2008 when B-DACS started to feel the effects and it quickly became impossible to maintain the same consistent level of work coming into the business.

The construction industry as a whole contracted by around 17% and the knock-on effects were devastating for everyone who was working in and around it.

No money was being spent, which mean Brian had to reduce margins in order to try and secure the few projects that were being carried out at the time.

In addition to this, numerous companies were folding, which further reduced the amount of work available and increased the risk involved in taking on larger projects.

‘We considered closing down,’ admits Brian, ‘but we managed to maintain our staff, temporarily reducing the working week to three days until we started to pick up again.

‘This instilled confidence in the guys that we would do what we could to secure their jobs and I would like to think this still resonates with them.’

Moving On

It took around a year for B-DACS to experience any clear increase in the number of enquiries and contracts coming through.

The turnaround, explains Brian, ‘was partly down to me writing introductory letters and emails to potential clients and generally upping the ante by communicating with sectors we hadn’t previously considered working in.’

In 2008, the Drummond family were also in the process of moving house and this meant moving B-DACS along with them.

At the time, it was a challenge to co-ordinate everything but the move went smoothly and resulted in a larger home-based office for Brian to operate the business from.

The garage continued to be used for storage purposes until July of this year when B-DACS took a storage container and were finally in a position to move everything out.

2 Lonmay Place, Glasgow

B-DACS moved again in October 2011, this time into fixed office premises in Glasgow’s Panorama Business Village. Needless to say, Brian wasted no time in installing some air conditioning.

‘As a tenant, we were aware of the inefficient wall heaters that were installed at our new premises, so, as part of the deal with our landlord, we offered to fit an energy efficient air conditioning system to replace the outdated and expensive electric heaters.

‘Mitsubishi Electric, through their Partner Programme’s RDF fund, assisted with the capital outlay, and we installed the system free of charge. To date, it has worked very well for us.’ It provides heating and cooling all year round from two suitably sized wall-mounted units.

While moving to the office brought an element of risk, particularly with many businesses still on the brink of closure, it gave B-DACS a professional space to bring in full-time office staff and, with it, the potential for growth.

Linzi Drummond came in as Office Manager, taking responsibility for the accounts and administration, while giving Brian the organisational support he needed to manage the expanding business.

Family Business

B-DACS was nominated for Family Business of the Year at the 2013 Glasgow Business Awards, and family values certainly play a big part in the running of the business.

Brian’s wife Diane has always been involved with B-DACS, having taken care of the financials since the early days, but only joined the business as a full-time director in August 2012.

Her 15 years’ experience with Lloyds Banking Group have proven invaluable in helping B-DACS to develop a long-term business strategy, as well as implementing enhanced financial controls and management processes.

‘Our strong family values have helped to solidify the foundation for our business,’ she says. ‘As we grow, we need to ensure all our employees feel valued and respected, and we will continue to listen to our customers as they are at the heart of everything we do.’

With Brian, Diane and Linzi on board, the family ethic comes across in B-DACS’ business practices. We integrate our staff in what we are doing as much as possible and build close relationships with our regular customers and suppliers.

Planning for the Future

Air Conditioning Recovery Growth GlasgowB-DACS continues to receive excellent feedback from customers and our strong reputation for service forms the backbone of our strategy for growth.

Earlier this year, we were selected to take part in Glasgow City Council’s pioneering Digital Graduate Exporter Internship Scheme, enabling local companies to use social media and other digital technologies to derive tangible business benefits.

As a result, we hired Rob to help us develop a digital strategy, revamp our ageing website and get us up and running on our blog and social media channels.

We are also in the process of carrying out a skills review in conjunction with Skills Development Scotland and Investors in People, which will help us identify areas we can invest in to move forward.

And the latest major change to the business has seen us bring in John Gallagher as Project Manager, which will enable us to run more projects simultaneously and expand the scope of what we do.

Looking to the future, we are conscious that energy efficiency is increasingly the most important factor in how people choose to heat and cool their properties. We see eco-friendly systems as crucial for the industry’s development and very much the direction in which we appear to be heading.

Comments and questions are always welcome.

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