Ten years in business - now where did that time disappear to?!
Now a key player and market leader in organics recycling UK wide, Mike Holt, 4R Group’s founder, shares his memories of ten successful and rewarding years in business.
1. You founded the company in 2006 - how did you feel on the first day when there was just you in your brand new company?
I founded the company knowing that in a few months’ time other experts would be joining me. This gave me a great deal of confidence that the business would succeed.
2. What made you take the leap of faith and start your new venture?
Along with other colleagues I was disillusioned with the senior management where we were all working, including the direction they were taking the business. Collectively we saw other market opportunities that we could develop outside our employers business.
3. Who was your first client and how did you engage with them?
My first client was a company specialising in recycling wastes into building products - Akristos Ltd. I had already undertaken a small amount of consultancy work on their behalf. We then won work from Yorkshire Water and I am immensely proud to say that we still do that work today!
4. Have you worked on any unusual contracts during the past 10 years?
In the early days we were asked to resolve a water treatment sludge problem. The water company had stockpiled 1,000’s of tonnes of sludge cake to dry out and of course it didn’t!
During the winter it got wetter and the company built three temporary dams down slope (yes it was stored on the side of a hill), you could see it moving slowly like lava towards a stream. You could not write the script!
We recycled many 1,000’s of tonnes of water cake to agricultural land and eventually stopped the lava from flowing.
5. Is there a particular ‘stand out’ contract where the outcome has been personally rewarding?
The Falmouth Marina dredging contract stands out. This was a difficult material to extract and we were working alongside the Environment Agency (EA), the dredging contractor and Imerys to recycle 32,000 tonnes of material, restoring 15 hectares of bare spoil. But I took great satisfaction from a very successful outcome.
6. How important has it been for you to have the 'right' team around you?
The 4R Group is a people business. Without having an all-round good team the business would not survive or grow.
7. Tell us a little about your particular specialism?
Most certainly my ability to ‘think outside the box’ when it comes to dealing with business and recycling opportunities. Some of my innovative ideas have however been somewhat restricted by the EA who resist change or challenges to how wastes are handled/ recycled into products.
8. Where would you like to see the company develop its expertise now?
I’d like to see our technical and operational expertise expanded to result in organic growth for the Recycling and Consultancy areas of the business. If possible by creating new uses/ outlets for existing material without the ‘waste’ tag.
9. What are your aspirations for the next phase of 4R Group's growth?
The directors would like to see the business grown profitably, with career progression for staff to a turnover in excess of £15m pa and have business planning in place to achieve this.
10. Did you ever imagine that 10 years on 4R Group would be the leader in its field?
Yes I always knew that the 4R Group would be the market leader. This was in no small part due to having unrivalled expertise in house across all areas of the business.
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