John Paterson is a successful businessman with global interests; he is also executive chairman of the Scottish Africa Business Association, a sometime Blueprint Media customer.
Chairman, Vert Rotors Ltd
1. In less than 45 words, give us an Elevator Pitch for your business.
We transform global compressor applications with our proven, patented software-driven technology which has impressively low noise and vibration and which is capable of continuous running unlike most competitors. We see endless potential for the integration of the technology in sectors such as refrigeration, heat pumps and HVAC. Our branded compressors are ideally suited to the hand-held tools, fibre optics installation and distributed air markets.
2. What do you like the most about your job?
As non-executive chairman there is only periodic contact with people in the company. However, it is always great to see this young but highly talented team, which has a never-ending enthusiasm and a real passion for Vert’s ground-breaking engineering.
3. What has been your best moment in business?
Launching a nation-wide direct distribution system in total secrecy enabling a 15% value share gain over main competitor. My first GM position was in Hungary’s leading FMCG business. Three wholesalers were strangling competition and service levels, so we covertly recruited and trained 250 staff, purchased 250 vehicles, built 12 distribution centres and created a new hand-held sales system with a £5m pound investment. This required setting up six unconnected companies as a front and a full professional security network due to organised crime risks. The wholesale network collapsed the day we went live causing major competitor disruption. Our security network was so effective we knew the death threat was coming the day before it arrived! This transformed our company which went on to win the Hewitt Best Employer Award.
4. What lessons have you learned that you would pass on to others?
Be humble, listen, always do what you say you are going to do and build a great team. Trust should be a given to be lost but most people require trust to be earned which I think is demotivating and a glass half empty approach to culture and motivation.
5. Tell us about your first job and any unusual jobs you have had in the past?
I was an Operational Auditor based in Marathon International Petroleum’s London HQ. We had a young team and it was work hard play hard. An adventure for a 21- year old flying offshore into the North Sea, Arabian Gulf and the depths of the Libyan Desert. An unusual role was securing two acquisitions through the Russian privatisation process – living a real-life thriller from the KGB, mafia, guns and death threats to caviar, champanski and suitcases full of cash!!
6. What do you hope the future hold for you and your business?
Many people have contributed significantly to bringing Vert to its current stage. The best reward for everyone would be to see this unique product achieve its fullest global potential as a true disruptor in a conservative sector.
7. Away from work, what do you like to do?
Travel is still a great passion. In 2018 a group of friends and I spent 10 weeks driving the Pan American Highway from Guatemala City to Tierra del Fuego at the southern tip of Argentina. In 2017 I spent 5 weeks driving through Southern Africa with 4 strangers camping amongst the wild animals – totally out of my comfort zone and would love to do it again. As co-owner of a vineyard I very much enjoy wine and occasional cooking. I recently joined Luffness New Golf Club in East Lothian and look forward to playing more.
8. What’s the last book / concert / Netflix series you most enjoyed?
Assegai by Wilbur Smith, concert was the Community Choir at The Usher Hall and Netflix was Drive to Survive.
9. Where is your happy place?
Two homes from home – Finca Ambrosia, Gualtallary in the Uco Valley, Argentina or Barbados which was our first overseas posting.
10. If you could invite any three people, living or dead, to have dinner with, who would you choose?
Nelson Mandela, Sir Alex Ferguson and David Stirling, founder of the SAS.