Noble Denton expresses its mission as having global capability in complex marine operations and offshore engineering for the oil and gas industry, where it finds the bulk of its customers, and the renewable-energy sector.
It is an established international group with about 530 employees worldwide, a number which has doubled from 2006 levels.
It also has ambitious plans under way to grow to a workforce of 2,000 by 2010, partly organically but also by acquisition, and finance director Scott Martin says the group has the balance-sheet strength to make several buys.
He said: “The group’s turnover this year will be around £75million and we are looking to be a £250million company by 2010.
“That will come if we make a number of acquisitions to catapult us to that level.”
The group has already grown in this way in 2007, having made three purchases during the year.
They were Intelligent Decisions, based in Oslo, which provides data-management services, for £1.2million; Poseidon Maritime, which has its headquarters in Aberdeen, for £2.4million to extend the group’s capabilities in marine consultancy; and Houston firm Lowe Offshore International, a provider of project-management services for offshore installations, mainly in the Gulf of Mexico, for £13.58million.
The Poseidon deal added about 40 to Noble Denton’s Aberdeen payroll, taking it to around 70.
Mr Martin said Poseidon had now been fully integrated and co-located with Noble Denton in the group’s Market Street offices in the Granite City.
The deals followed the October 2006 transaction in which Norwegian private- equity firms HitecVision and Ferncliff each took a 30% stake in Noble Denton, with management and employees retaining 40%.
To finance the three acquisitions the group raised £15million in capital through a share issue which involved its private-equity partners and also around 150 of its management and workers.
The group said earlier this year that it was creating an in-house merger and acquisition team to look at other opportunities and send out a clear statement to the industry of its intention to accelerate its growth to achieve critical mass.
It now says that because of its high growth aspirations both organically and by acquisition, it is considering a future flotation to raise capital for growth further down the line.
Mr Martin, originally from Glasgow, moved to Perth at the age of 10, before returning to study law at Glasgow University.
He then qualified as a chartered accountant with Ernst and Young, and has in the past 10 years acquired financial director experience in private-equity-backed companies in the oil and gas industry.
These were oil and gas material-management specialist Howco, oil industry training company RGIT Montrose, international oil and gas facility-management group Petrofac, and now Noble Denton.
Mr Martin moved to Aberdeen from Glasgow in 2003 to join the management buyout team of RGIT Montrose, which was subsequently sold to Petrofac in 2004; a deal recognised as the small/mid buyout of the year in a leading business award scheme.
He stayed on with Petrofac through its flotation and ultimately became group head of mergers and acquisitions.
He was then approached by private-equity company HitecVision to join Noble Denton as group finance director in May last year.
Mr Martin is also a member of an Aberdeen-based business angel investment group – Albyn Ventures – which invests in emerging private companies.
Albyn Ventures was established in April last year by Mr Martin and four former colleagues from Petrofac, and has made about half-a-dozen investments to date.
Mr Martin describes himself as a keen sportsman who “peaked at age 15”. He was Scottish under-16 tennis doubles champion, Midlands District Schools under-15 rugby captain, an S-Form signing with Arbroath Football Club, and Scottish Universities tennis doubles champion in 1988. Now he says he is just a keen golfer, but travelling with work and two children have kept him too busy to hold on to his former single-figure handicap.
Going forward, he sees Noble Denton, assuming oil prices remain high, as well placed to benefit from continued buoyancy in the industry and strong investment by the industry.
He said: “More floating production vessels are being seen and more deepwater projects, and this is very positive for us as we are heavily involved at the transitional phase where assets go offshore to start earnings.”
What car do you drive?
A Mercedes CLS (sporty, but big enough boot for golf clubs and room for child seats in the back).
What gadget would you never leave home without?
I’m afraid I’m in the Blackberry club and have a relationship with it from first thing in the morning until last thing at night.
What’s your favourite restaurant?
For overall dining experience, it would have to be Andrew Fairlie’s at Gleneagles, although I’m also prone to visit the Ashvale for a fish supper fairly regularly.
Have you ever broken the law?
Of course not; I’m a fine, upstanding citizen.
What or who makes you laugh?
My children, who seem to think they know everything about the world at the ages of seven and five respectively. Other than them, I enjoy shallow comedies such as The Office, Peep Show and Seinfeld.
What’s your favourite book?
I’m an avid reader of business and personal-development books. For a book to read on holiday, I would highly recommend Four Iron in the Soul by Lawrence Donegan, which describes a journalist’s adventure for a year as a caddie on the professional golf circuit.
What’s your favourite film?
I like comedies starring the likes of Jack Black, Jim Carrey and Ben Stiller, although my favourite is probably Groundhog Day, with Bill Murray.
What’s your favourite singer/band?
I don’t listen to music all that regularly but if pushed, I would say Snow Patrol. My wife obviously thinks my music taste is different to this, given that she bought me a Sugababes CD last Christmas.
What’s your ideal job, other than this one?
Definitely a professional sportsman, with football particularly appealing because of the long lies, afternoons off and long summer holidays.
What’s the best piece of business advice you have ever received?
Be tenacious and never give up.
Worst business advice?
Can’t recall anything specific; must have ignored it anyway.
What do you drink?
I start the day with a fruit smoothie mixed with protein powder, but presumably the question refers to alcohol, and in that case, it is Corona Extra lager.
How much was your first pay packet and what was it for?
I was signed as a schoolboy footballer by Arbroath FC and was paid £2 a week. This was as high as my football earnings reached.
How do you keep fit?
I have gym equipment in my garage, which I actually use a few times a week.
What’s your biggest extravagance?
I have a personal Powerplate, which is a vibrating fitness machine that gives the benefit of an hour’s work out in 10 minutes, supposedly. I understand that Colin Montgomerie has one too.
What’s your most interesting habit?
In terms of what is printable, it is probably excessive hand waving when speaking in meetings, and this includes conference calls.
With which historical or fictional character do most identify?
I don’t identify with anyone in particular, but am always inspired by people who have triumphed after overcoming great adversity such as cyclist Lance Armstrong and Ben Crenshaw, who won the Masters immediately after the death of his long-time coach.
How would you like to be remembered?
As someone with high integrity who always gave 100% commitment to whatever he was involved in.
Year born: 1969
Education: Perth Academy, Glasgow University (law).