For Triton, it boils down to acquiring highly specialist businesses that have been set up by smart people but which may nonetheless be struggling to make headway, perhaps because of solid management skills.
“They see they can get that growth by coming into this group. They get the right business support.
“We’re not managing their businesses from here (Triton HQ in Aberdeen).
“What we are doing is giving them the right infrastructure in which to grow their businesses, also the necessary resources.
“The brands are kept and, in all cases, the vendors have retained equity.
“We have never approached it by saying, ‘and you must come in and do your two years of penance’.
“They have to come in and want to do this and feel that this is better for their business.
“If someone wants to sell a business, cash in and retire to the south of France, that doesn’t excite us.
“The reason we have to move so fast is that, quite often, we’ve found ourselves getting into heads of agreement and, not long after, someone else has knocked on the door.
“There are a lot of people out there looking for opportunities.
“We make direct approaches and we’re now at a stage where deals have to make a material difference to us … move our needle.”
So is 2008 a period of consolidation or is it another helter-skelter year?
Anderson: “We’re in that cusp.
“We have deployed the equity that we expected, plus a little bit more, and within a much shorter timeframe than anticipated.
“During this helter-skelter 14 months we have put effort into management of the group … both at the top level and inter-company. The next six to nine months will see this become much more of a priority.
“We’re certainly not going to do another six-seven deals within the same timeframe. There is probably one, possibly two more deals that may be done this year, if they make sense, but our criteria are now tougher.”
Anderson admits that he and his team are on a steep learning curve and that Perry Slingsby’s entire financial management structure needed to be rebuilt, hence the decision to recruit Alan Pirie as chief financial officer.
“He came from Viking Offshore and brought the kind of experience to the table that was needed.
So what of the future, say three to five years out? Exit for SCF, perhaps via flotation? More P/E money? Sell out and retire to the Costa del Money?
“I would say that the most likely route lies with the first two because we are still very much in growth mode.
“A further layer of private equity money and/or a public offering are more likely than going to a trade buyer.
“Having been in one for 16 years, I’m hardly going to run off saying yippee and go back into another big company.
“But I’m not naive enough to believe that SCF will not phone me one day and say, ‘We’d like you to come and meet somebody’.
“And then I find myself sitting in front of my potential new owner.
“There’s a lot of interest in us now and a lot of assumptions made that we’re going to get turned over before too long.”
But Anderson says he is in it for the long haul and he seems reasonably sure that SCF is not in a hurry.
“I’ve never been so invigorated and excited about coming to work; it’s the right environment, the market’s obviously good, and right now there are a lot of people (small companies) who have liked our story and want to join us.
“But we’re not offering a magic pill. They have to come with their ideas and we’ll support those ideas.
“Way back in Comex and the Stena days, it was an extremely good training ground. You had to present to some very tough people. But they were very fair.
“As long as you didn’t pull the wool, if you were straight with them, good or bad, you got support.
“And you very quickly learned that you had to get your ducks in a row and you anticipated the questions.
“I’ve had to learn that I had a very special training.
“I have been able to adapt that to dealing with the – guys that have joined the group, including recognising that they’ve done something that I have never done and then respect that. It’s about nurturing.