At B-DACS, we celebrated our 10th anniversary in 2013, so here is our story of the last decade.
With a new website, established office space and several new faces in the company, we’re at an interesting stage to reflect on where we came from, even if it brings back a few memories we’ve been happy to forget.
Getting B-DACS Up and Running
Company director Brian Drummond founded B-DACS on 7th August 2003 in Glasgow.
Recognising that Brian Drummond Air Conditioning Services didn’t have much of a ring to it, he condensed it into the acronym B-DACS, which gave him a platform to build a scalable business and recognisable brand.
Brian had been running the air conditioning division of Livingston-based contractor Morton Mechanical Services, but, when they went into liquidation, he saw it as the perfect opportunity to start his own business.
‘It was something I had thought about but would never have left a full-time job to do,’ he said. ‘I registered a company and just aspired to maintain a comfortable living with a steady income to support my family, that’s all.’
Setting up an office in his Mount Vernon home, he got his wife Diane to take care of the financials, allowing him to focus on purchasing a van and getting B-DACS up and running.
The last few months of 2003 saw Brian secure two air conditioning contracts and carry out plumbing work on the side to support the main thrust of the business.
In the early days, one of his regular clients was a well-known Glasgow hotel, who employed him on an almost weekly basis to change urinals that drunk patrons had kicked off the wall. Not ideal work, but it brought in some extra money which he could use to invest in the future.
When taking on his first major project, Brian needed to bring in an extra pair of hands to assist with the installation works. That became an experience in itself and he didn’t get quite what he expected.
‘I was recommended a local engineer who was looking for work,’ said Brian, ‘but it turned out he was 72 years old and just wanted to get out of the house because his wife annoyed the hell out of him. He was actually a really good installation guy but not a long term prospect.’
Establishing B-DACS as a Small Business
This initial hard work paid off and Brian managed to grow the business from the ground up, winning contracts through word of mouth, his 25 years’ experience in the industry and the contacts he gradually built up along the way.
Conscious of establishing B-DACS as an expandable business rather than a one-man band, Brian designed the company logo and began to wear branded uniforms when out on the job. In 2004, he hired his first two employees to provide additional labour but continued to be solely responsible for all technical and installation work.
B-DACS grew rapidly over the next couple of years, gaining excellent feedback from customers and winning major contracts with several notable clients. The team installed air conditioning at a number of Prometric Test Centres throughout Scotland, as well as various NatWest branches in Manchester.
Renovating 145 St Vincent Street
B-DACS’ biggest project to date was completed in the autumn of 2007.
It involved installing a Mitsubishi Electric VRF system as part of major renovation works at 145 St Vincent Street, a nine storey neo-classical office building in the heart of Glasgow.
Air conditioning was required on every floor to varying degrees. The scale of the project, combined with the unique appearance of the building, made it one of the most challenging and rewarding installations that B-DACS has been involved with.
The system had to be designed to suit the layout of the building and could not include any high level units because of the decorative ceilings and elaborate cornicing.
‘Taking cognisance of this, we opted for floor-standing air conditioning units that would be situated evenly around the perimeter of each floor,’ explains Brian. ‘We ran all services under the floor to the main riser which led to the roof area where all external condensing units had to be situated.’
Achieving Sustained Growth
Discovering that B-DACS was in demand for more major projects, Brian employed an additional engineer to support the growth of the business.
By 2008, B-DACS had three vehicles and all were liveried to give the fleet a distinctive look, enhancing the visibility of the company.
In the same year, B-DACS carried out the majority of air conditioning installation works at the newly built Craighall Business Park in Glasgow, helping to create modern office spaces that foster a positive working environment.
It was also around this time that B-DACS started to feel the effects of the financial crisis, which led to new, more serious challenges for the business in the years to come.
Surviving the 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% in the UK 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 to try and secure the few projects that were going ahead 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,’ admitted 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 from the Downturn
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 actually continued to be used for storage purposes until July 2013. B-DACS then took on a storage container and were finally in a position to move everything out.
Moving to Panorama Business Village, Glasgow
B-DACS moved again in October 2011, this time into fixed office premises in Panorama Business Village in Glasgow’s East End.
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. With the new office came more potential for growth.
Linzi Drummond joined the business in as Office Manager, taking responsibility for the accounts and administration. Her role gave Brian the organisational support he needed to manage the expanding business.
B-DACS Has Always Been a 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 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 said. ‘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’re doing as much as possible and build close relationships with our regular customers and suppliers.
Planning for the Future
B-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 online technology to derive tangible business benefits.
As a result, we hired Rob Dickie to help us develop a digital strategy, revamp our ageing website and get us up and running on our blog and social media channels. These are now all well established and helping the business to grow.
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’re conscious that energy efficiency is increasingly the most important factor in how people heat and cool their properties. We see eco-friendly systems as crucial for the industry’s development and this is very much the direction in which we appear to be heading.