Find out how the Durham Business Opportunities Programme supported HVAC/Renewable Engineering company Clear Climate to grow from a business employing two office staff and two engineers to a company employing ten office staff and 40 engineers, turning over £4m.
Following COP26 the focus of the world has turned to how we can generate energy in a more sustainable way to help combat the challenges of climate change. But, for one County Durham business, their company is already providing solutions that can help developers of both commercial and domestic properties in the UK achieve our carbon neutral ambitions, with 100% renewable energy solutions.
Clear Climate offer a range of services including air source heat pumps, wall insulations, solar power solutions, air conditioning and service and maintenance options. Air source heat pumps use technology that changes the air around us into water to provide heat and hot water for our homes and businesses. At present, Clear Climate are installing around 20 air source heat pumps per month across the North East. However, as a region, it’s predicted that we need 60,000 over the next 10 years putting the Durham based business in a prime position to meet that demand.
Clear Climate was founded by friends Lee Peachey and Andrew Smith in 2017. Both had years of industry experience including sales, design, installation and maintenance of air conditioning units working for well-known names such as Dakin, Mitsubishi and Samsung.
In the first four months, Lee and Andrew managed to secure £200,000 worth of work, but it wasn’t until January 2018 that things took off.
Director Lee Peachey explains: “It can be incredibly challenging to secure contracts when you first start a business. We had the contacts and experience but initially it was difficult to get clients to put pen to paper. After we fulfilled our first few contracts, confidence in our brand grew. The first week of 2018 was a real turning point for us. We secured two high profile contracts of more than £700,000 with Parker Hannifin in Birtley and the Hilton Hotel at Birmingham Airport to install air conditioning systems and since then we’ve never looked back.”
The services offered by Clear Climate support the UK Government’s ambition for all new heating systems in UK homes to be low carbon by 2035 as part of the Heat and Buildings Strategy. This ambition puts the Durham based business in a strong position to fulfil this market need as they are already supplying renewable and decarbonising energy solutions such as air conditioning, air source heat pumps, wall insulation and solar panels.
Durham Business Opportunities Programme Support
The growth since the business started in 2017 has been phenomenal, utilising their extensive contacts Lee and Andrew have grown the business to annual turnover of £4m in a little over 4 years. However, in the early days, the business had missed out on larger procurement contracts an area of the business that Lee and Andrew were determined to develop. To upskill in this area the company contacted Business Durham’s Guy Bashford from the Durham Business Opportunities Programme (DBOP).
The DBOP Programme is an ERDF funded initiative designed to help businesses spot opportunities to grow, helping in areas including winning new business, recruitment, funding supply chain and overcoming barriers to growth. The programme also commissions sector focused support to help businesses make the most of opportunities in sectors that have been identified as high growth. One of those areas was upskilling businesses so that they were better equipped to bid for and win more public and private sector procurement contracts.
DBOP Business Development Officer Guy Bashford commented: “Lee and Andrew were doing exceptionally well as a business. However, they had lost out on a few public sector procurement contracts, for projects they felt they should have won. After an initial meeting I introduced Lee to B2B North who at the time were managing the DBOP Routes to Contract Success Support Programme designed to help businesses win more public and private sector contracts. The team at B2B are bid writing experts and over the years have helped their clients secure over £500m in potential contract value. I thought that Garry and the team could help Clear Climate in this area and it certainly proved to be the case.”
Lee added: “After we engaged with the DBOP programme we better understood the procurement process and in particular the importance of social value when bidding for public sector work. It’s important to demonstrate how we as a business can help the public sector achieve not only the aims and objectives of the project but show the collective benefit of appointing a County Durham company to the community and economy as a whole. As part of the support, I met the Procurement Lead for Durham County Council who explained what they were looking for in a third party supplier and that advice paid dividends.”
By recognising the importance of social value in their tender application, Clear Climate won the contract to provide the new Durham History X Museum with 100% sustainable energy solutions providing air conditioning with work starting in February 2022.
That’s not all, after attending DBOP’s “Meet the Buyer” event in November 2021 Clear Climate Director Lee met with many high profile buyers and now the renewables business is in talks with a number of housing providers and builders to provide decarbonising energy solutions for several new developments.
Lee explains: “The DBOP “Meet the Buyer” event is a golden opportunity for any business to raise their profile, understand what buyers are looking for and meet decision makers for the region’s biggest future developments. As a direct result of this event, we are talking to several domestic house builders about sustainable energy solutions for streets of houses in addition to liaising with large building contractors about decarbonising energy solutions for commercial developments.”
In January Clear climate will open the North East’s only training facility for air sourced heat pumps. This facility will be used to educate customers and clients about the systems, helping them to understand what is needed to install an air source heat pump as well as train up the next generation of engineers. In addition to this, the business is looking to take on engineers from the training centre providing more jobs in County Durham.
With the UK domestic renewables market predicted to grow from £1m in the UK to £10m in the next five years Clear Climate are in an excellent position to service that market and continue to grow as the businesses and government start to look towards cleaner more sustainable energy sources of the future.