Boss of Great Yarmouth-based 3sun eyes brighter future after move into renewables
- Credit: Archant
It has been a tough year for Graham Hacon.
Rock-bottom oil and gas prices have stripped away available offshore contracts, forcing the managing director of Great Yarmouth-based 3sun to cut jobs and fight for every piece of work.
But while some neighbouring firms have buckled under the pressure, Mr Hacon believes 3sun has weathered the storm, and is now in a strong position for future growth.
Offshore renewables contracts for the region's burgeoning windfarms are coming through, and Brexit has provided a surprise boost
'We had a tough period last year but we're feeling like we're coming out the other end,' said Mr Hacon.
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'But I still feel like it's tough for a lot of companies who haven't diversified.'
He said offshore renewable contracts now made up more than 90% of the business, whereas previously oil and gas had taken a greater share.
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However with contracts harder to win, and the company expecting to make a loss for its last financial year, Mr Hacon said delaying a major investment had been a saving grace.
A Business Growth Fund investment in exchange for 40% of the business in 2014 was targeted at building a new Great Yarmouth base to bring its two offices under one roof, but Mr Hacon said keeping the money in the business had been key.
'Part of it has been being able to make tough decisions quickly about whether we should enter new markets and expansion decisions. Do we need to cut costs? Are we the right size business for where we are?'
Offshore contracts began to come through in May, and a fall in sterling since Britain voted to leave the European Union has made Mr Hacon's team of skilled engineers more attractive to foreign firms, he said.
'A lot of the business is now international. Currently in Germany, Denmark, Holland, Belgium and France the scale is so much bigger.'
And increasing market share in inspections has helped the business climb back to its pre-oil and gas downturn levels, with 310 staff members on the books, up from about 280 during the worst of the downturn.
The firm is now involved in 75-80% of Britain's offshore windfarms, he said, and is looking after about 1,000 offshore turbines across the UK.