An entrepreneurial company with the technology to provide cleaner, greener and cheaper energy to UK homes has built a powerful leadership team after working with Andrew Tallents of Warren Partners. Energetix Group plc, an AIM listed business, was founded by Group Chief Executive Adrian Hutchings in 1997. A chemical engineer by training, Adrian had worked in various senior roles at BNFL, the nuclear energy group, with responsibility for developing and commercialising both nuclear and non-nuclear energy applications for the power industry.
Adrian’s ability to analyse markets, identify gaps and develop new technology to meet needs led to the creation of Energetix and a range of innovative technologies to serve both domestic and commercial markets. The Group has three divisions:
Pnu Power provides clean and reliable back up power using a smart, compressed-air technology
Genlec provides domestic heat and power using smart, mini, combined heat and power (CHP) technology, known as the Kingston boiler
Kingston Energy provides retail electricity and gas in Great Britain and will soon launch an energy package based upon the Kingston boiler
Energetix also has a 27% shareholding in VPhase, a company created by Adrian and separately listed. VPhase provides voltage optimisation products which enable domestic and commercial customers to reduce their electricity costs.
“My strengths are in using engineering principles to take fairly ordinary, mass produced components and configure them in a new way to create innovative products,” says Adrian.
“After more than a decade of R&D investment, we had an exciting range of patented technologies but needed additional skills within the executive team to commercialise them. So we asked Warren Partners to work with us, on the recommendation of Vanda Murray, who chairs VPhase.”
Business development brief
The initial brief to Andrew in summer 2011 was to find a business development director with the potential to take on a wider remit as the business grew – freeing up Adrian to concentrate on technology and product development. The board was looking for someone with broad skills, an entrepreneurial approach and an outstanding track record in the energy industry.
From a strong shortlist, Tony Stiff proved to be the ideal candidate. Tony had built and exited four businesses in the sector, including leading independent energy supplier Atlantic Electric and Gas. A year after retiring as a main board director at Bglobal plc, the AIM-listed smart metering company, Tony was ready for a new challenge.
“I’d had a lot of calls from head-hunters but this opportunity really interested me. The chance to help take Energetix from a start-up position and fully exploit its technology in a market with huge potential was an exciting challenge,” says Tony.
“Initial meetings with Andrew then Adrian and chairman Clare Spottiswoode all reinforced my enthusiasm for the role, and I was desperately keen to take it on. Andrew was very good at providing feedback, and keeping me appraised of the position throughout the process. Sometimes, your enthusiasm can wane if you don’t hear back or know how the land lies but that certainly didn’t happen here. Warren Partners is an ideal choice for an AIM listed PLC, as you get to talk to senior people like Andrew – not always the case with a large consultancy.”
Tony made his mark straight away at Energetix, using his expertise to set up its Kingston Energy dual fuel supply business, based in Ipswich, and to progress plans to market the Kingston CHP boiler to the domestic market.
Challenging board thinking
To manage the manufacturing and supply of the boilers, the Energetix Board turned to Andrew again in spring 2012. The original task was to find a chief executive for this part of the business, but some innovative thinking and discussion with the board led to a different solution.
“By challenging our requirements, Andrew made us think again about the scope of this role,” says Adrian. “Logistics, supply chain delivery and customer service expertise were essential, but we’d assumed candidates would come from the boiler industry. In fact, Andrew looked much more widely and found a candidate from a totally different sector, who crucially had the potential to take on a broader Group Chief Executive role.”
This was Peter Richardson, the man who had helped to build Dyson from a £45 million turnover UK vacuum cleaner company to a billion pound business selling products in 64 countries. After nine years as Chief Operating Officer at Dyson, and a career that had included senior business development roles with Coca-Cola, Colgate-Palmolive and Cadbury Schweppes, Peter was attracted by the potential of the Energetix technology.
“It was a completely new sector, with plenty for me to learn,” explains Peter. “I didn’t want to miss the opportunity to launch a potentially game-changing new product in the UK and then do a roll-out across key world markets – and take on the big established energy supply players. Perhaps that’s a legacy of my previous role!”
“The brief for the job was compelling, and the chemistry with Adrian, Clare and Tony was ideal – they are an absolutely first rate team. The recruitment process ran very smoothly, and the pace was well sequenced. Andrew understood what the business was about and that showed.”
Gearing up for success
With a strong leadership team now in place, Energetix is gearing up for the next phase in its success story – the UK roll-out of the Kingston boiler in summer 2013. Peter and Tony have completed a £13.7 million fundraising, customer trials with the boiler are underway, and installation and maintenance partners are in place.
“I don’t often praise advisors, but Warren Partners have continued to do an excellent job for us,” concludes Adrian. “Peter wasn’t on our radar before we engaged Warren Partners, but he was an inspired choice, as was Tony. We’ve now got a powerful combination of expertise, knowledge and enthusiasm to help Energetix fulfil its potential.”