Warren Anderson, Managing Partner, G.O.T.
To begin, would you please introduce the company, its background, and the vision behind its creation in 1992?
G.O.T. was originally set up in 1992, predominantly as a hand, machine and power tool supplier. In-house repairs on power tools were also carried out at it’s premises near the city centre. This served the company well in it’s early years in a very buoyant and developing oil industry market. As the directors came from both an onshore and offshore background the mix between an excellent practical understanding of equipment required and a strong business understanding enabled G.O.T Ltd to develop and grow quicker than most similar companies. As the oil industry developed over the following years and the introduction of new operators in the North Sea, G.O.T Ltd had to change it’s approach and services to meet the new requirements expected by these new end users. I started employment in 1995 as a part time driver in between University breaks. I decided that during the summer I needed to find full time employment and University was not the answer for me. I started off in purchasing before quickly moving up to office manager. As the company grew rapidly we had to relocate to new custom built premises in 2004. At this point G.O.T Ltd were servicing some long term contracts with some of the best blue chip customers in the North Sea. Our customer base had expanded dramatically as had our staff levels. I was made a director in 2006 before moving on to complete a management buyout in May of 2008. The market now is as buoyant as it ever has been, and every year G.O.T. surpasses its previous turnover records. Aberdeen is a separate entity to the rest of Britain, to a point where it almost has its own economy.
You highlight G.O.T Ltd’s contracts with Blue chip customers; is your focus on the majors or still the new dynamic companies?
G.O.T. works with a number of Operators both in the UK and overseas in the West coast of Africa. Financially our Operator contracts generate more income than anything else, although the duty holder / maintenance contracts we have in place generate more volume of goods and services. We are certainly committed to all our contracts. Focus has to be split equally between all existing, new and potential clients. Sure it’s always great to secure a contract with a big name, I’ve found this increases your presence in the market place and can lead to further customers coming on stream. G.O.T. is by no means the only supply house in Aberdeen, and contracts can be lost as well as won. That’s why we have to be 100% focused on what we do and where we are going.
G.O.T. has grown by diversifying its portfolio of services and this has enabled you to work with these players you highlight in the UKCS. You mentioned the West coast of Africa, can you talk more about the geographic areas you are focusing on at the moment and how you will go there?
Until two years ago, 90% of G.O.T. Ltd’s business was Aberdeen sector-based. This included platforms, FPSO’s, oil terminals and onshore fabrication / engineering. For a time Baku was headline news and business over there was good.. That market didn’t materialize for us , and G.O.T. decided to focus more on existing customers to see where we could grow with them. Our Angolan business started in late 2007. We had been keen on this market for some time and eventually we received the break into the market place. Due to the Angolan market being new G.O.T Ltd were able to offer the same ‘supply all’ service as it does in the UK.
Luanda is in a nationalization project to reinvest back into the city, roads / schools and buildings are the main issues being addressed. One of their requirements for any new company wishing to do business in Luanda is that you must show support for the country by operating a local based company and employing local content on-site. Over the course of the last year, we have made several trips to Luanda looking at premises, staff, and going through a lengthy registration process. Presently, G.O.T. has staff, offices, approvals, and is just waiting on final documentation to come through to complete the process. This will allow G.O.T. to have a satellite office in Luanda servicing one of our biggest clients. Potentially it also opens doors in allowing us to approach additional clients based in Luanda. Other than Luanda, there are no plans for G.O.T. to grow geographically.
What is the proportion of international versus domestic business in terms of turnover?
Going by turnover alone, Angola represents approx 15% of our business. It’s not a case of our business in the UKCS becoming smaller, thankfully we have held on to the same level in the UKCS but also managed to add on overseas work.
How does G.O.T. benefit from being based in Aberdeen?
Aberdeen is the Oil Capital of Europe, and has a massive connection with the oil industry worldwide. This connection and the experience gained with it allowS G.O.T Ltd to be one of the leading suppliers of procurement services in Aberdeen.
How have the recently volatile oil prices affected G.O.T.?
At this time we are not affected by the oil price. As our products we sell are always in demand and at the lower end of the cost scale compared to capital expenditure items, I feel that we will continue to be steady for the forthcoming year. If you look at the price of oil approx 2 years ago, it isn’t far away from the current cost. We were busy then so see no reason why that cannot continue.
With a growing and buoyant industry, why is G.O.T. the partner of choice for much bigger clients?
Service, we provide an excellent service to all our clients this coupled with reduced costs and complexity allow G.O.T Ltd to be a strong contender for future tenders. With strong intellectual assets and loyal staff from all different disciplines and backgrounds covering engineering, hand tools, PPE and mechanical factors ensure that we can accommodate all of our clients requests. With flexible, customised client invoice packages and additional unique services we can offer a bespoke purchasing solution.
A booming industry has also meant a tight labour market. How do you keep your people motivated to stay with G.O.T.?
G.O.T Ltd is very much a team based company. We could not have achieved what we have without the commitment and dedication of all the staff. There are never 2 days the same with us, there are always new challenges, projects or ideas to keep everyone motivated. It’s a positive and enjoyable atmosphere and that’s the way I’d like to keep it.
G.O.T. has surpassed its targets year after year. What is your assessment for 2008 and projection for 2009?
2008 for me has been a huge learning curve. Since completing the M.B.O I’ve had to take on new responsibilities and roles. I am still going through the transition phase with the previous directors but I’m confident that I can be completely up to speed in the 1st quarter of 2009. From the business point of view, 2008 has been a tremendous year for G.O.T. And depending on the outcome of various contract bids we have at the moment 2009 could be an even bigger year. With the addition of our Angolan work, we are delighted to have surpassed the Ј14 million mark. If we were to continue at this level we will need to expand by at least three staff in 2009.
What are the main priorities at the top of your agenda?
My main priority is to ensure that G.O.T Ltd’s customer see no decline in the standards of service they have received over the years. Priority is to maintain our biggest contract. When and if that happens, I can investigate other strategies, as I will be working from a good, solid foundation to look further down the field. Additionally, there are administration issues next year ensuring Luanda is up and running properly with sufficient staff.
Where do you see the most attractive areas for G.O.T. to diversify its portfolio of services?
The major products offered differ client to client, and the only way I could see G.O.T. expanding in this respect is by offering the entire client base the same wide range of products. It’s just not possible for some of them due to contractual conditions, and we can only get a part of their business. At G.O.T.’s current stage, coming up in leaps and bounds from last year, we’re almost playing catch-up, and need to find out how everyone is coping with the workload. Turnover has jumped up Ј1-1.5 million with the same headcount, and it’s hard to fill the gaps. Right now, we will take stock of what we’re doing and the products we’re supplying, seeing the avenues to offer a different type of product to a different customer that hasn’t had it before, and then take it from there.
What would you like G.O.T.’s clients to say about the company?
G.O.T. has had positive feedback from people we deal with, and the one thing that keeps coming back is first class service, response,. We haven’t heard one bad word back, and I attribute this to such a small, concentrated group of people here that we’re really approachable, and everyone’s on the same playing field and knows every customer.
What is your vision for G.O.T. over the next five to 10 years?
This has been a very busy year, and in the short term I’d be comfortable maintaining this level of business. Ideally we’d like to get bigger, but there comes a time when companies can get too big and overtrade. In five years, the goal is to have the client base we have now, with one or two new additions.
On a personal level, what keeps you motivated?
I get along great with the people, customers, suppliers, and because the job is never the same any day, and involves selling different things to different people all the time, it doesn’t get monotonous, repetitive, or boring, so it’s always fresh, changing procedures, and every day is a challenge.