GCC Interview MD, Gerry Docherty
Glasgow Chamber of Commerce Interview Gerry Docherty, Managing Director, WEEE Scotland Ltd following their award win for Best Performing Small-Medium Business 2022
Tell us about WEEE Scotland and how your business came to be Glasgow’s Best Performing Small-Medium Business?
WEEE Scotland was established in 2013 on the principles of circular economy. Initially, myself and business partner Lyndsay Stewart set up as a WEEE (waste electrical and electronic equipment) recycling operation with the opportunity to assess viability of repairing and refurbishing a portion of the product received. My background in electronics and our overall vision to deliver more sustainable solutions for our customers has resulted in the business growing organically over the past nine years to deliver a wide range of services, including repair, remanufacturing, recycling, and full asset management for EEE goods.
Why is electronic waste driving your business growth and how big a problem is it?
The increasing consumption of EEE and the continuing trend for the commercial sector to automate processes is fuelling significant growth in our sector. However, unless you are working in an industry that deals with large quantities of EEE, the problem of this type of waste may have never occurred to you.
DEFRA analysis in 2011 put Electronic Equipment and Machinery as the fifth most carbon emitting sector in the UK and the volumes of electrical and electronic equipment (EEE) manufactured, consumed, and discarded is growing rapidly year on year, posing a significant threat to the environment. Beyond our ambition to reduce the impact of WEEE, the electronics industry faces the very real challenge of the depletion of key materials used to manufacture electronics such as touch screens, mobile phones and televisions; we recognise that there are simply not enough of these materials to continue with traditional manufacturing methods and that we can support the industry by developing remanufacturing solutions which help to ensure that electronic products are not discarded until they are beyond repair.
What did hosting COP26 in Glasgow mean for a business like yours?
Glasgow did an amazing job of hosting COP and, as a business in the environment sector, we were delighted to be part of many of the events hosted by the Chamber of Commerce and other like-minded businesses, groups and organisations throughout the conference.
From a personal point of view, it really solidified the importance of the work we are doing at WEEE and how far we had come as a business; it was the same for many of our team members. I met with HRH The Prince of Wales and discussed our business with him, which he showed genuine interest in. The overall experience gave us a boost in confidence and encouraged us to go on into 2022 investing, innovating, and taking risks, which has really supported our growth over the past year.
What have been the biggest challenges to your business over the past year?
We consider ourselves extremely fortunate that we have recovered from Covid 19, which has not had a hugely negative impact on our ongoing business, however, there is no doubt that this and leaving the EU has had an adverse effect on business continuity and in particular, recruitment. We are pleased to say that our commitment to strategic recruitment via schemes like Kickstart is continuing to be successful and we have gone on to offer a high ratio of our Kickstart employees’ full-time employment.
We have made considerable investment in capital equipment and facilities to support the expansion of our services and continue to invest in supporting our staff with training and development. This investment in the growth of our business can be challenging in the current climate of rising costs but we are fully committed to our people and providing our customers with a first-class service offering.
Tell us about your key achievements over the past year and your ambitions for 2023?
The past year has really seen us refine our service offering whilst investing in and embedding the infrastructure required to provide a platform for growth in the years to come. Within the past year we have worked on exciting and unique projects, from the recycling of the fluorescent strip lighting in the Clyde Tunnel, to project managing the decommissioning of 20,000 Solar Panels from fields in the North of Scotland. We also cemented our long-standing partnership with Costa Express, extending a repair and refurbishment contract for the asset management of around 52 components from their expansive fleet of Costa Express vending machines. They also named us as one of their official partners for sustainability which was a huge achievement for the whole team at WEEE Scotland.
As for 2023, I am optimistic for our continued growth and success. In the past twelve months we have invested in a WEEE Shredder and other equipment which supports our drive for more efficient recycling and presents huge opportunities to access more materials to increase recovery of small WEEE items like phones, laptops, microwaves for refurbishment. It will also improve the levels of recovery of raw materials for re-use. We already have customers and contracts in place who will benefit from this new infrastructure and are looking forward to taking the service out to market over the course of year. We have also created two new senior positions in the business and were delighted to welcome our Operations Manager, Kristoffer Graham, in 2022 and welcome Business Strategy Manager, Justine Scullion, to the business in January 2023. Both bring a wealth of experience to the business and will compliment the amazing team we have built at WEEE Scotland.
Overall, our vision is to be the supplier of choice for businesses striving to achieve a circular business model for their electronic and electrical resources, and to use our knowledge and expertise in this field for the good of the community and our planet. I am confident that we will continue to work towards this vision effectively in 2023.