The oil and gas industry has produced many fast-growth new companies in Aberdeen.
One of the best examples of this in recent years is energy consultant Xodus Group.
It was started by chief executive Colin Manson and three industry colleagues.
It was Mr Manson’s first business venture and right from the start the Xodus bosses wanted to do things differently.
The traditional consultancy start-up usually involves a handful of people in a small office tucked away in a basement.
Xodus did the opposite and literally hit the ground running. It opened for business in 2005 with offices in the city’s Carden Place, 14 experienced employees and IT systems designed to cope with rapid growth.
To fund their venture, the directors dug deep into their own pockets and managed to secure an additional private investor, with funding from the Royal Bank of Scotland.
Xodus has now evolved into an international company with 250 employees – nearly half of them in Aberdeen – and £22million annual turnover.
Things have not stopped there, though.
An announcement is expected soon on an investment in Xodus from an unnamed UK private-equity firm.
The investor will inject up to £15million into the energy consultancy and, in return, get a minority stake in the business.
Xodus will then be in a position to roll out a five-year plan to grow turnover to between £150million and £180million, plus raise staff numbers to between 1,000 and 1,600.
Growth will come mainly from acquisitions at home and abroad.
Ayr-born Mr Manson said: “My vision is to make Xodus the world’s premier integrated energy consultancy, both in terms of our services and as a place to work.
“I have ensured that, as we grow internationally, we remain cohesive. Integration of people and services is key to our business model and what we can deliver, so it’s been important to really manage our growth carefully.
“What we have achieved so far has been primarily down to organic growth and our ability to employ and retain a first-class team.
“We undertook our first acquisition in 2007 when we bought Aurora, an Orkney-based environmental consultancy. In two years, it has quadrupled in size from 10 to 45 staff.
“We are now considering four acquisitions – three businesses in the UK with overseas operations, plus one overseas company – which could add about £10million and 80 staff to our group turnover.”
Xodus also has offices in Edinburgh, Orkney, London, Kuala Lumpur and Perth, in Australia.
The chief executive said its success had been founded on the ability of its team to bring a full range of disciplines to the table, meaning its clients could move projects forward from prospect and concept design through to full production in a more efficient and cost-effective manner.
While oil and gas field development is a core business for the group, Xodus is also involved in environmental and technical safety and risk management in areas from the testing of marine-energy prototypes in the Pentland Firth to investigating ways to transport carbon from one location, such as a power station, to another for storage.
Mr Manson said there were still some gaps in the group’s capabilities, however, adding: “We might, for example, acquire safety or environmental companies that complement what we already do. We are also keen to develop a presence in production chemistry and subsurface work. If we could offer a truly integrated service that encompasses all of these areas, we would be in a very strong position.”
The Americas and Middle East are being targeted over the next couple of years and Xodus plans to enter these markets through the opening of “hubs” and through potential acquisitions.
Mr Manson said: “We will certainly have hub offices opened in Dubai and Houston within the next couple of years and I think it is likely we will enter the Middle East through acquisition.”
He said the efforts of fellow directors Richard Heard and Stephen Swindell had been an integral part of the company’s success, adding: “There are no lone rangers here in Xodus. I don’t believe one person can do something great. Strong leaders are successful because they are always part of a team or because they are surrounded by good people, and the same applies here at Xodus.
“In the beginning I am sure many people thought we were being too ambitious, but we have fulfilled and exceeded our growth objectives and all in a relatively short period. This is credit to the effort of the entire team and their commitment to helping grow the business.”
Just last month, Xodus revealed it had invested more than £7.5million in new city-centre headquarters. It said the move to offices in Huntly Street, which are more than twice the size of its former site, would help to accommodate future growth.
The 14,500 square-foot building, occupied previously by Ernst and Young, has been renamed Xodus House.