It hasn’t been the 15th anniversary year that Energy Assets Group expected, but as Chief Executive Officer Colin Lynch explains, while the celebrations may have been put on hold, we have remained focused on driving the business forward.
We have attracted new investors, proven the resilience of our business model, delivered on customer requirements, helped support national infrastructure during the pandemic, continued to grow our project pipeline and galvanised our people to build back better.
1. What are your reflections on the impact of the pandemic on Energy Assets Group (EAG)?
These are challenging times for everyone – customers, staff and supply chain partners - but the robustness of our business model means EAG is continuing to weather the storm well and is in a better position than many companies. We have a very strong pipeline of project contracts which, along with our recurring revenue stream through asset ownership, gives us a solid platform upon which to expand.
2. Although these remain challenging times, are there any lessons that you can take away from the last few months as you plan for the future?
Yes, no matter how well you assess risk and plan for business disruption, you can never have all the solutions or processes. The speed at which the business and the country went into lockdown caught everyone by surprise. It was a critical time with our people looking for leadership and direction. The key lesson was simple - be decisive, formulate a plan and deliver clear robust guidance. At the same time, we ensured we remained flexible and adaptable in a dynamic situation to provide the best possible support to our customers and to ensure the safety of our people and the communities we serve.
3. Has this shared experience brought the EAG family closer together?
Our people have been fantastic during the lockdown; everyone is an individual and they all are part of the EAG family, so from the outset we framed our support around staying in touch, creating opportunities for colleague engagement, opening up channels for one-to-one contact, and underlining the physical and mental health resources we had put in place through our EA Health programme. Now, as always, our guiding principle is ‘Safety First – Always Safety First’. I believe the shared experience of the last few months will make us stronger as we transition to our growth plan.
4. One major development for EAG in recent times has been our acquisition by a new consortium – how will this relationship influence the business going forward?
It was the success of our business model that attracted our new investors and we see their involvement as a springboard for further expansion. I am excited about the new opportunities that these resources will open up for our people and our customers as we roll out plans for growth in step with Britain’s move towards a lower carbon economy. Our critical mass in energy metering, data, utility construction and asset ownership means we are well placed for the much-heralded green revolution.
5. Where do you see the biggest opportunities for EAG?
We operate in markets that are fundamental to the future prosperity of our nation – energy metering, data collection and analytics; utility construction; and local network ownership. With the ever-increasing focus on energy efficiency, growing demand for housing, and the need for innovation in local network resilience to cope with greater electrification, we are strongly positioned for future, sustainable growth.
6. This year marks the 15th anniversary of EAG’s formation – are there plans to mark this milestone over the next few months?
We had planned a series of events throughout 2020 to mark our 15th anniversary, but for obvious reasons we have had to put these activities on hold for the time being. However, our intention is still to celebrate this milestone in the next few months.
7. Looking back, which have been the most significant decisions for the Group in shaping our current position?
EAG has grown from an owner and operator of gas meter assets into one of the most dynamic independent providers of multi-utility metering and utility network construction and ownership businesses in Britain. Our strategy of organic growth and targeted acquisitions in adjacent markets has created a vertically integrated business model with multiple customer touchpoints that is unique in Britain’s energy market. There is no one single development that can be described as transformative…rather it's the application of a successful strategy that continues to shape our success.
8. At a personal level, what gives you the most satisfaction when looking at our success to date?For me, business is about relationships, whether that be with customers, suppliers or with our exceptionally talented team. The greatest satisfaction for me is seeing how people can thrive when they are motivated to succeed. We pride ourselves on empowering individuals to take decisions, by providing them with the tools and the structures that enable them to reach their goals, whether on behalf of the business or at a personal level.
9. How important will our technology and service portfolio be in the future in contributing towards the goal of Net Zero?
Just about everything we do will be framed by the drive to Net Zero. Our metering will be the measure of sustainability for industry and commerce; our utility design and construction services will enable digitalization, electrification and the push towards hydrogen; our advanced data analytics and control tools will drive energy efficiency; and our investment in artificial intelligence will help safeguard energy network resilience.
10. Do you see data becoming even more important for customers and if so will there be further investment in aggregation and analytical tools in the future?
Data is core to energy efficiency and much more, but data alone does not create value. One of the biggest challenges for energy managers can be the availability of too much data, so our market-leading AMR DNA system, which uses artificial intelligence, makes it easy to assimilate consumption data to reduce energy waste and optimise efficiency. Ongoing investment in our WebAnalyser platform will also enhance the ability of customers to access critical information via a dashboard of customisable data-driven reports.
11. How well is EAG positioned to help the economy ‘build back better’?
For me, our entire business ethos is founded on continuous improvement, so in that sense we are perfectly aligned to the concept of ‘build back better’. This starts with having the right people in place, whatever the job role…whether that’s meter technician, construction operative, customer support team member, network designer or a senior leader. What shapes our future is our culture - living our values day-in, day-out to build the best future we can for the benefit of our people, customers, stakeholders and the wider communuity.
12. How important are our internal systems for future success?
We operate in a highly regulated environment where safety is paramount, so our processes, accreditations and audits are fundamental to our success now and in the future. These inform our operations and help us deliver on our promises to customers. We have also launched a new internal communications strategy to ensure that everyone in the team has a common focus and shared appreciation of the goals of the business.
13. How important is it for Energy Assets to remain agile?
I think most people realise that the uncertainty created by the pandemic could well be a feature of life for some time, and in these circumstances our agility will be key in enabling us to respond to challenges and opportunities. One example of how our culture of innovation has impacted the business positively has been the success of our Sheffield logistics hub, where we moved to new modern premises, reorganised procurement, introduced a new meter triage operation and reshaped engineer support to create value for the business and for our customers. This is just one example among many of how our innovation mindset constantly challenges accepted norms.
14. What are the trends in energy and utilities that will influence EAG’s operations? What is the direction of travel?
The UK government is prioritising a green revolution and for EAG this translates into opportunities in a number of areas, from integrating battery storage, solar panels and EV charging into local network ownership to delivering hydrogen gas networks and leveraging the value of data through AI to transform and measure energy efficiency. I firmly believe we have the people, the expertise, the business strength and the vision to play our part in a sustainable future.
15. What will success look like for EAG over the next 15 years?
Business success is inevitably measured through revenues and balance sheet strength and of course these are fundamental to our ability to deliver our growth plans. However, I also think there’s a broader measure around the contribution we make as an enterprise to some of our nation’s wider challenges, including equality of opportunity and social responsibility. We have developed a set of values that we live by every single day that reflect our determination to be an employer of choice. I firmly believe that when we work together to a common purpose, great things will happen.