How a chance meeting in a supermarket car park has led to the creation of a North Wales business now leading the way in its field
It is often the case that a good idea comes out of a chance meeting between people.That’s exactly what happened in a supermarket car park in 1997 when Frankie Hay and Geoff Ellison (pictured below) met for a chat about a business opportunity. Both had been involved in quarrying and waste management for many years. The idea was to combine their expertise to create a business serving the environmental sector.
The result was Envirohire, a company which offered environmental engineering and hire equipment to the landfill industry. Their approach was novel and simple. Supply robust and cost effective solutions for pollution problems. Much of the equipment was new and designed over the kitchen table. Prototypes were built, tested and many have been patented – with more patents in the pipeline.
In 2004 the business partners decided to pursue an even more demanding goal; to enter the drilling market to expand their business portfolio to the landfill sector. Drilling involves the use of drilling rigs, which don’t come cheap, especially when they can weigh in at over 48 tonnes.
After putting their houses on the line Frankie and Geoff ordered two drilling rigs, from Comacchio in Italy and the new Company, Dragon Drilling, was born.
Dragon Drilling grew rapidly and quickly set the standard for environmental drilling services. New techniques for drilling were developed and patented and the environmental regulator asked Dragon Drilling to draft national guidance for drilling on landfill sites. This was recognition that Dragon Drilling were now the market leader in their field.
In 2013 it was decided to split Dragon Drilling into two divisions, the original landfill business had a new sister Company, Dragon Drilling (Water & Energy) which offered a water borehole service and renewable heating using energy stored in the ground. Chairman Geoff Ellison says: “The last 3 years have been eventful at the Envirohire/Dragon Drilling Group. Continued expansion meant that the premises in Ruthin were too small and so we purchased a three-acre site at Bryn SM to provide the space to enable growth to continue.”
Dragon Drilling (Water & Energy) Ltd won a Daily Post “Business of the Year Award” in 2016 and in combination with Dragon Drilling (Landfill) Ltd are now the largest environmental drilling company in the UK. Drilling rig number 12 was delivered in mid September.
“No two days are ever the same at Dragon Drilling,” adds Geoff, “as every customer has unique requirements whether it be for a water borehole, a ground source heating borehole, landfill drilling or water treatment. Ground Source heating systems are becoming increasingly popular as an alternative to gas or kerosene boilers with the Renewable Heat Incentive providing a good return on initial investment. This year’s dry summer has seen many properties with previously reliable water supplies such as springs and wells dry up and so we’ve had a very busy year so far.
“Most potential customers want to know how much and how deep we have to drill. There are many variables to that depend on customer requirements in terms of the KW required for heating or the amount of water that’s required. The geology plays a key role in calculating ‘how much and how deep’ which is why we offer free estimates and site visits.
“I remember the meeting back in 1997 very well. We had an idea that we could bring something new to the marketplace and combine our expertise to create a business that was innovative and one we could enjoy building up. Twenty one years later our philosophy of the sustainable utilisation of natural resources is very topical, we employ 30 people and are continuing to expand. It’s amazing what can happen over a chat in a car park.”
Dragon Drilling, Graig Lelo Works, Bryn Saith Marchog, Corwen, Denbighshire LL21 9SD. Tel: 01824 707777. www.dragondrilling.co.uk
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