Business Owners are Saving the World!
Stephen Hurton of Proper Oils in conversation with Christine Southern.
What is the focus of your business and what is it you are trying to accomplish?
I am trying to prove that local is better by developing an economically sustainable business, properly, in a social and ethical way: to work locally, add value, reduce emissions, reduce our carbon footprint, encourage apprenticeships and produce carbon savings for customers.
Why and how did you decide to start your business?
I used to supply supermarkets and disliked the way they worked. I couldn’t find a biodiesel supplier so decided to set up an essential environmental business that did things in the right way and proved local is better.
What influenced you with this decision?
The opportunity was there as there was a lack of bio diesel and used cooking oil was available, so an ethical, sustainable business was feasible.
What changes and trends have affected your business?
Bio diesel legislation and the range of certification required which changes rapidly, often with little warning, is a huge challenge to the business. The market is also moving away from free collection: the costs have risen significantly to secure the oil we need.
What are the biggest challenges or obstacles you have overcome?
Learning how to employ people, managing the site, cash flow and containing overheads: learning how to collect and process the oil to maximise output and deliver effectively to customers. In addition, we have successfully purchased a new business and integrated this with our current operations.
What, if anything, is holding you back today?
Time and cash flow are limited – as with many growing businesses cash flow is tight and my input is required in all aspects of the business – my time is thinly stretched. More cash would mean that we would be able to invest more in the business to achieve much more.
If you could wave a magic wand what would you change?
I would like to be able to invest more; in a full time sales team to really grow the business and develop other aspects of the operation of the business which would benefit from further investment.
What are the most stimulating and challenging aspects?
The most stimulating part of my business is overcoming the challenges of growing the business which are thrown at you on a daily basis.
What skills and personal qualities are required to be successful?
Enthusiasm is very important, ambition and the will to win are essential. Being creative and positive and disregarding the nay-Sayers is vital.
What motivates you in your business, right now?
My greatest motivation is growing the business and finding new ways to grow the business.
What is your greatest success?
My greatest success is running the business and growing it successfully over the last 5 years
What is your greatest contribution?
My greatest contribution has been in the time required to build the business and the effort put in to do so, also in having the skills to recruit a very good team and have in place that successful team.
Proper Oils is an award winning renewable energy company.
Proper Oils http://www.properoils.co.uk/ collects Used Cooking Oil – both Used Vegetable Oils & Animal Fats – from caterers, recycles it locally, for refining into biodiesel.
Stephen Hurton, Founder and Managing Director, was chosen as a London Leader for Sustainable Development by the London Sustainable Development Commission who advises the Mayor of London on making London an exemplary sustainable world.
I am on a mission to celebrate the achievements of business owners in these difficult economic times and provide inspiration to others. I would like to say a big thank you to all business owners. Why? Because in the UK, together, you employ 14.1 million people and have a combined turnover of £1,500 billion (source FSB/BIS). That’s huge. You really are saving the world in these tough economic times.
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