From the side of your customers, what drives the demand for efficient energy solutions?
Legislation and the good old common sense.
You’d be shocked – we go to some customers and do nothing other than switch things on and off at the right time and monitor the building. One building we spent £5,000 on, and that client consequently saved £200k in a year, simply because before they had had the plant on 24/7. It’s just crazy.
Just go into a city, have a wander in the evening, and what do you see Lights everywhere. Whether you agree with legislation, whether you agree with all the rhetoric; everybody can see the waste, it’s staring us in the face. Legislation is driving the market, energy cost is driving the market, and that we are able to demonstrate business benefits far more easily than three or four years ago.
How does government regulation affect the market right now?
One of our clients spends £300m a year on energy, so CRC tax on that share is significant.
Regulation should really be driving the public sector. It’s a market that’s really difficult to engage, which is frustrating. I know we could make a big difference; but we can spend a lot of time talking, yet won’t really get far with people because of all the bureaucracy.
What is your experience with accessing finance for businesses in the energy market?
It’s really difficult and I actually think that if we could get the energy efficiency market liquid, would be a positive factor in rejuvenating the UK economy. Finance is a blocker for your medium enterprise, not for your big corporates. We are actively looking at ways of getting access to simple finance, or simple funding for clients that will give them the confidence that the investment they make is actually going to pay back, that they’re going to get something positive out of it.
What will be the biggest change in the energy efficiency market in the next three years?
I think greater taxation is going to drive action, as will rising energy cost. But ultimately where the market is going to get to is “energy efficiency-as-a-service”, rather than a project. We will actually be managing a building for a lifecycle, and within that keeping consumption agreed on low, or certain parameters. I would tell you how much energy a building should devour and then we would keep it in that performance.
Our philosophy where we’re getting to – my big picture is an intelligent energy client, where we have some 200,000 buildings connected, and we are keeping on top of the consumption. That is essentially what we do for our bigger customers now, we connect them remotely and track the investment, performance; taking corrective action every day.
What are Matrix’s plans for future growth?
We’re looking to do another acquisition right now, which will probably complete Q1 next year. It will give us good customers and good skills. An issue in the industry really is the skills-gap – that’s probably one of our biggest challenges, really, and something we are putting a lot of energy and focus into. We’re only as good as the people who are doing the job.
In terms of goals, we’d like to get to £100m turnover in the next 18 months, and we’ll do that through organic growth and acquisition. You can ask me what I’ll do next when I get to that point If I have any energy left then!