Red Spider has moved to a new purpose-completed headquarters eight times bigger than its first home and four times larger than the last premises at Westhill, outside Aberdeen.
The new HQ is almost within a slingshot’s throw of where the firm took root in 2005, and director/co-founder Chris Oliver says it offers significant scope to grow the company further, which means new jobs, and build on its brand.
Between Aberdeen and overseas, it is likely that Red Spider will need to take on a further 60 or so new staff, half of them at the new HQ, as the business continues to grow robustly.
In 2007, the company turned over £3million and the expectation is £5million for 2008, though this is below expectation due to slippage of client projects and focus on production.
“The new place has taken shape really well, particularly the workshop,” Oliver told Energy.
“It was great to start with a blank sheet of paper because we’ve been able to organise the right workflows, and, for the first time, we have a clean area for the electronics team and good provision for test facilities.
“At our last place, it had got to the point where it was like trying to swing a cat in a cupboard. As the business is increasingly moving into completions products, clients can take us seriously as we’re actually set up to do that kind of work.
“It’s also been good to deliver on our promise to staff, and we’ve now told them that we’re going to be here for five years. I’m already trying to imagine what the next move’s going to be like.
“When we last moved three years ago, there were 15 of us and we’ve just left with 42, or it will be that by the end of the summer. We’re expecting to get up to 70-75 in here.
“The plan is to make Aberdeen Red Spider’s engineering heart of the business, a place where product development and prototyping can be carried out.
“While we’re also going to be assembling and testing the equipment, that won’t necessarily always stay in Aberdeen. We can go closer to market. For example, with the Middle East starting to take off for us, we could start to use that region for manufacturing.”
Red Spider currently has seven people overseas – five of them in Norway and two in the Middle East.
In Norway, one of the founders of the company, Irvine Brown, has just moved out from Aberdeen to become regional manager.
“He was our engineering manager, but has now taken a step into sales and business development. In the Middle East, we’ve brought in Bruce McLeod as development manager. He came in from Halliburton and was already in the area, and we’ve teamed him up with one of our engineers from Aberdeen, Bruce Gavin, who has transferred,” said Oliver.
“It’s good to be able to take an engineer along to client meetings; that’s changing their perception of the company.
“Over the next five years, we see Norway getting to 15 or so … we’ve started servicing equipment there, with a new facility being completed for us at the end of the year.
“It’s early days in the Middle East, but there’s strong interest in Qatar. We’re also looking at well trials in Saudi Arabia. So we’re going to need personnel there. We could get to 15 people very quickly … within the next three years.”
Last year, the business was roughly 50:50 UK:Norway, though with some sales in the Middle East; 2008 looks like UK 50%, Norway 35% and Middle East 15%, but based on growth across all markets and not shrinkage of Norwegian opportunities.
South America has also popped up as an opportunity as Red Spider has secured a three-month contract with BP covering the Cusiana and Cupuagua fields and providing TTRD (through tubing rotary drilling) related services.
“Who knows, South America could come through for us too,” Oliver added.
“The Zodiac (zonal on-demand isolation and control) intelligent well completion equipment that we have will probably suit some areas. Colombia could even become a regional base.”