Our blog series looking at the companies Business Wales AGP has helped continues, with FuelActive – a groundbreaking fuel delivery system manufacturer based in Taff’s Well. FuelActive has developed a method of fuel delivery which eradicates issues which result from contaminated diesel.
The patented FuelActive unit replaces the standard pick-up pipe and only delivers the cleanest fuel in the tank. The story of FuelActive began in 1998, led by founder Mike James. Mike, an engineer who has worked for more than 30 years in equipment repair and maintenance, saw first-hand the huge impact breakdowns were having on the UK construction industry – 85% of which are caused by fuel contamination. So he came up with a game-changing idea to avoid that.
Here, Mike James shares the experiences he’s had on his business journey so far – and offers some advice to other entrepreneurs.
Tell us about FuelActive
FuelActive delivers the cleanest fuel in the tank by using a floating device to draw fuel from the upper level, leaving water and sediment at the bottom of the tank. It means contamination never enters the fuel filters or engine.
The lightbulb moment which was to foreshadow FuelActive came about while I was working with Hydrainer Pumps. A major new customer had experienced equipment failure after just 10 minutes from delivery to the site. Fuel contamination was the culprit, although at the time people would simply blame the quality of fuel on-site. Unfortunately, equipment failure of this kind had become a regular occurrence, and a solution was needed.
I went about engineering a solution, finally completing a possible working prototype. Hydrainer Pumps were keen to try it and installed the FuelActive unit. I produced a number more, which were all installed, and made subtle changes each time, so the system became easier to manufacture and install. The first unit proved successful and more in-depth trials were arranged for further testing. An extensive period of research and development followed, where we worked with the higher education sector and with funding support from local government. FuelActive was born.
Following subsequent investment from Adjuvo, the company is now well-positioned to realise its full potential.
What are your proudest moments in business so far?
Independent static and dynamic testing from Sogefi, the engine filtration manufacturer, found that Fuel Active’s fuel pick up delivery system increases reliability by 94%. That compares to 2.3% using the conventional method.
That figure is something we’re hugely proud of, and we’ve had additional endorsements from Komatsu, Caterpillar and Volvo who have thoroughly tested the FuelActive in the field with impressive results.
If you were starting again, what would you do differently?
A bigger effort would be made to gather data before entering the market. As FuelActive operates across six sectors and is the solution to a global issue, the potential target market is immense. We’ve undertaken in-depth market research in each respective sector which has improved focus via segmentation, targeting and positioning. Our improved focus has helped to prioritise who we target and why – and has informed how we should approach them.
How has support from Business Wales AGP helped your business?
Our head of marketing, Claire Bentley has overseen the Business Wales AGP work within FuelActive.
First of all, we were supported with human resources expertise. A Belbin Team Role report was undertaken to see how the team worked together and to identify if any personality types would be helpful to create a well-rounded, skilled team when recruiting in the future. It’s helped us realise that to upscale successfully, we need the right people with the right skills, at the right time. We then had help in assessing our production process, which identified bottle-necks and ways of preventing of those bottle-necks during a period of rapid upscale.
FuelActive’s linear PowerPoint presentation was also transformed with the help of Business Wales AGP to an all-singing, all-dancing interactive presentation which should help us secure future clients.
As well as that, we’ve been given support to improve our digital marketing strategy, with a focus on strengthening SEO as well as improving social media.
FuelActive has also had a one-to-one session with an HR business advisor who advised on policies and procedures required for a business of our size.
Finally, we were advised on exports, with reviews to our documentation procedures and practices. AGP also recommended we become a member business of the South Wales Chamber of Commerce. We were also provided with information on what support is available in terms of Welsh Government trade missions and the Overseas Business Development Visit grant (OBDV).
What advice and guidance would you give other businesses starting out?
● Leap and the net will appear.
● The biggest risk is not taking any risks.
● Find a way, not an excuse.