Name: Ryan Clark.
What is your business called?
Where is it based?
What does it produce, what services does it offer?
We protect our clients against crime and combine traditional security services with technological solutions which are often bespoke in nature. Our strength as a business lies in how we use technology and we are often able to improve upon on our clients’ existing security strategies whilst realising commercial savings. As an example, we recently developed a bespoke Mobile CCTV Surveillance Tower in Ayrshire for Farrans Roadbridge JV which runs entirely from renewable energy. As well as reducing carbon emissions this tower allows the monitoring of remote locations.
To whom does it sell?
The vast majority of our services are delivered to corporate clients who have high value assets deployed in remote or temporary locations. We currently protect over £1billion pounds worth of temporary project works and related assets throughout Scotland and enjoy great working relationships with many well-known brands including Taylor Wimpey, QTS and Springfield Properties.
What is its turnover?
How many employees?
When was it formed?
Why did you take the plunge?
From a very young age I’d always imagined building my own business. Prior to founding Safer Scotland I was doing relatively well in my work as an employee and felt I had to make a decision on whether to continue down the corporate route or take the risk of starting my own business. After some consideration, my mind was made up when I realised that even if I were to go on and enjoy a highly successful corporate career I would definitely regret it in my old age if I did not make a go of it. Even if the business were to have failed I would still be happy that I had tried.
What were you doing before you took the plunge?
I’ve worked in the security industry since gaining an HND in Mechatronics Engineering at 18 years old. Mechatronics is a fusion of mechanical, electrical and computer engineering. I studied at the James Watt College in Greenock then started as a front line security guard and was given opportunities to quickly progress through the operational ranks before moving into a business development role.
I worked as a security watchman in a variety of construction sites such as new school builds. The hours were very long and antisocial, sometimes 3pm – 8am.
My understanding of technological solutions gave me an advantage in developing systems-related business for my employer. After being asked to work with another security company I decided to set up as an independent consultant, focusing mainly on security systems. I was fortunate to gain such a good education during those years and I maintain positive relationships with all of my previous employers and work colleagues.
How did you raise the start-up funding?
I had put together some savings and used all of them to get the business started.
What was your biggest break?
I’ve had a number of breaks along the way, and it’s important to have some luck. I think with any new business your big break is those first set of customers who believe in you, you can have the best plan in the world but you need customers to believe in your vision and then be willing to give you that initial backing and opportunity.
What do you most enjoy about running the business?
I’m happiest when working to solve a problem or creating something new and I get to do both in this business every day. Technology is an area which I’m personally very interested in and with Safer Scotland I think we work on the cutting edge of security technology.
What are your ambitions for the business?
For the Safer Scotland brand to become synonymous with consistent, reliable, high quality security and safety solutions in various sectors. Contributing to making Scotland a safer place to live, work and invest.
What are your top priorities?
Immediate priorities are putting the systems and procedure in place for handling continued growth whilst achieving the same end result or better for our clients. As a young growing business we are also looking to fill new positions and so one of my priorities is making sure we find the best people possible to take us forward.
What could the Westminster and/or Scottish governments do that would help?
At the moment we are experiencing political instability and uncertainty in relation to Brexit This has a direct impact on our clients and their investment decisions which has a trickledown effect onto our success and that of other SME’s. New development projects may be scrapped or delayed until investors can predict with more confidence the political and economic environment they will be investing in. Without ignoring the complexities, the quicker this is sorted out the better.
That aside, in comparison to most countries our government is quite pro-active when it comes to supporting new business ideas and I routinely see publicly-funded schemes to help young entrepreneurs get started. The best way to support us as a developing business is to support our clients and that means encouraging investment in the economy.
What was the most valuable lesson that you learned?
Understanding that the boss in any company is the customer.
How do you relax?
Business and technology are my passions, if I’m not reading on either subject or watching a documentary on Artificial Intelligence or some other developing technology you’ll find me spending time with my beautiful wife, often as a bag carrier! I also enjoy playing football with friends, keeping fit and whenever I get the opportunity travelling somewhere new.