We caught up with one of Scotland’s top exporters, Robin MacGeachy of Peak Scientific to explore the lessons learned in the company's shift from a local to global business.
With headquarters in Inchinnan Business Park, Renfrewshire, Peak Scientific is a shining example of a successful Scottish manufacturing company already blazing a trail to international markets.
So what does it take to be successful global business? Of course, strong leadership and innovative business practices are essential. But above all, the company benefits from a strong and ongoing relationship with Scottish Enterprise.
Peak Scientific's exporting footprint
Peak Scientific has been developing award-winning laboratory gas generator products since 1997. In 2005 the business employed 40 people with a turnover of £5 million. It now employs 380 people globally, with a turnover of over £40 million.
Over the last five years the company has enjoyed impressive annual growth of between 25 and 30%, with sales generated in over 110 countries including the United States, China, Japan, Brazil and South Africa.
It has also developed an impressive footprint overseas, with 30% of its overall headcount delivering sales and after care services from overseas offices as far afield as Brazil and Shanghai.
Rewards of export growth
In March 2015, Peak Scientific scooped Scottish Exporter of the Year title and Large Exporter of the Year award at the BQ Scottish Export Awards for its outstanding contribution to Scotland’s export profile and success. As a winner, Peak Scientific had to demonstrate to the judges how it had overcome barriers when entering new markets.
The company is supported by authorised distributors and service partners in over 70 countries.
Peak Scientific has also received the highest Royal Accolade, The Queen’s Award for International Trade in 2004, 2007, 2011 and 2014.
Where it all started
Robin MacGeachy, Managing Director, started Peak Scientific in 1997 and purchased the business in 2004. He and his wife June lead the company from its HQ in Inchinnan, Scotland.
Peak remains an indigenous Scottish company and is able to compete successfully with a number of significant, global giants including Parker, Air Liquide, Air Products and Praxair.
In 2014, Robin was awarded the EY UK Entrepreneur of the Year Award for Manufacturing.
The EY Entrepreneur Of The Year™ programme is considered the world's most prestigious business award and covers individuals in more than 145 cities and in more than 60 countries worldwide.
We asked Robin why the company decided to start exporting.
“When we first started as a company we soon realised that the market in the UK at that time was very small, “said Robin. “So we started to look at potential export markets overseas.”
Robin's advice for new exporters
Before your start trading overseas:
- Do your research
- Align your strategy to your management team
- Have the right people to do the job
- Ensure your product is good enough – domestic market first then overseas
- Think about the resources you’ll need
Exploring routes to market
Finding the right routes to market is fundamental to success. There are various options to explore, including distributors, end user, agents, original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) and joint ventures. We asked Robin, how Peak went about finding their routes to different markets.
“We first looked at distributors − identifying which were the right distributors for us. And when we eventually outgrew those distributors, we looked at agents and joint ventures.
“The model we now adopt is to have an office in the major and fast developing markets, and distributors in the smaller or more difficult markets, such as Russia, Romania and Kazakhstan.
“We’ve expanded very quickly over the past 5 years. We are now mining those markets we are in rather than going out to new markets.”
Robin's tips on routes to market
Before you dive in:
- Weigh up pros and cons of each route to market
- Understand business practices of each
- Be prepared to walk away from a deal to safeguard your profit margins
- Seek out competitor distributors
- Stick in long term
Where next for your business?
If you have a product or service that’s performing well at home, then there’s likely to be demand for it overseas. Start your research today with our help.
Read our guide to researching international markets
Want to hear more about Peak Scientific's exporting journey?
Read part 2 – Managing the export supply chain