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Monday, 28 July 2014

From strength to strength

ONE Cumbria electrical energy specialist is going from strength to strength since attending All-Energy Aberdeen.

Athena PTS was set up two years ago by four businessmen – Neil Smith, Mark Skeels, Keith Bennett and David Shawcross – each with more than a decade of experience in their field.

It started out with each of the four co-owners specialising in design and electrical consultancy.

The firm spent ten months on site, for example, in a quality assurance role on EDF-ER’s Fallago Rig Wind Farm, a 48-wind turbine project in the Scottish Borders, and received a glowing commendation from the energy firm for the work they carried out.

In the last few months, however, they have grown to offer not just the consultancy work, but the full package.

This includes high voltage operations and maintenance, specialist installation including high voltage terminations, and quality assurance work which takes them everywhere from multiple-turbine sites onshore to high-voltage operations offshore.

Their specialism is about supplying electrical power, often to the windfarm and renewables industry, but also to other business sectors.

It hopes to achieve in the next few days the accreditation to bid for grid connection work, linking power generators, such as turbines, to the grid.

They’ve also worked on everything from solar farms to submarines, having undertaken electrical design work with BAE Systems in Barrow.

In its first two years the business has grown from four to ten people, two of those taken on in the last month.

As the businesses grows and diversifies the co-owners see them being up to 15 staff before too long, such is the demand for their quality work and professional service.

All four are passionate that there is a highly skilled, and specialised workforce in Cumbria more than capable of taking on major energy projects in and around the county, whether it’s offshore off Britain’s Energy Coast, or onshore anywhere in the county – right now they are involved in some schemes in the Carlisle area.

Based at Phoenix Business Centre in Barrow, they also carry out UK-wide work, with jobs spanning the length and breadth of the country from Wick on the northern tip of Scotland, right down to Clacton-on-Sea.

And they are starting to see more opportunities abroad – amazingly one involving electrical supply to a brewery in Ethiopia!

Attending All-Energy Aberdeen led them to establish a relationship with German firm Enercon.

Based in Aurich, Enercon is the fourth-largest wind turbine manufacturer in the world.

Since having discussions in Aberdeen, Athena is now carrying out work on a number of sites for clients who are using the German firm’s product on a range of single turbine sites, many on farms, with each turbine capable of producing 0.5 megawatts.

Neil is keen to point out that all ten of the people in the business are highly-qualified, well regarded professional individuals, working as specialists in their field and have senior positions within the company.

The business has adopted that approach so it has the expertise and capability to tackle major complex projects.

“It is about getting the right person for the job” he said.

They have paid the necessary salaries to land the required high-end skills. And so far it is a strategy which has paid off, with an ever-expanding order book.

“One of our recruits taken on in the last month is based in Scotland, and already in discussions with clients for expanding the companies support and presence there. The work is out there.

“We have a lot of contacts from our experience in the industry. And if you match the right people with the right skills to the right job, it’s hopefully a successful formula.”

As Athena grows it will also need to recruit more support and administrative staff. If the three months since All-Energy Aberdeen are anything to go by it promises to be a busy final quarter of 2013 for Athena.

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