It All Started with a Kitchen Loan...

Mick Beavers is the Founder and Managing Director of Aberdeen-based Control Valve Solutions - specialists in the repair, maintenance and management of bespoke Control, Isolation and Emergency Shutdown Valves.

Mick launched Control Valve Solutions in 2009 with a £15,000 personal loan and an ambition to be the best valve management and service provider in the UK. Today, Control Valve Solutions now employ 50 staff members with a turnover estimated to be £7million in 2021.


Mick is currently on Entrepreneurial Scotland's 12-month eVolve programme designed for growing & scaling business leaders. Read about his amazing business journey and the vital advice he has for anyone looking to start their own business in these challenging times.

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ES: Tell us about Control Valve Solutions — what do you do?

MB: I started the business back in 2009, as I was frustrated not being able to offer the client the service they required, so I went and did it for myself. I did not have much money to my name, so I went to the local bank and got a £15,000 personal loan for a kitchen upgrade, and the business was born!

Control Valve Solutions (CVS) offers a wide range of products and services related to the valve industry, we engineer, design, and build bespoke valve packages to suit the client’s needs. In addition to the supply side of the business, we have a dedicated service centre under the same roof, where we offer fast turnaround repairs of valves and related products. We manage everything in-house and have an impressive machine shop, coatings facility, and full testing capabilities to 22,500 psi. We primarily operate within the UK Oil & Gas Industry but do have other industries that we tap into, as well as some international clients. We are based in Aberdeen and have 50 staff members, with a turnover estimated to be £7million in 2021.


ES: What have been some of the major leadership challenges during the past year or so?

MB: Keeping 50 people employed, safe, happy, and updated on all things relating to business so they feel secure. We have implemented working from home, strict distancing, split shifts, and even setting up different locations to further keep people away from each other. This has caused several challenges, the main being the obvious one of splitting up the team.

I pride myself in staff engagement, I see the positive results of taking time to speak to everyone regularly, and other staff members interacting and communicating well. Virtual meetings, or e-mail updates etc are fine but nothing beats the social gathering and communicating as a team with everyone having their say or raising questions.

The hidden challenges must be the mental health side of the staff during these times, even though job security is there, every single member of staff is going through their own drama with COVID, and it has taken its toll on so many. For me personally, the pressure of keeping the business going and operating at a level that keeps everyone employed, whilst satisfying all stakeholders has been (and continues to be) draining. I would not want to be doing anything else though. Challenges have always featured heavily since starting the business in 2009, I guess it makes us stronger.

ES: What have been the major successes of this period of time?

MB: The business has remained strong despite the pandemic and the effects it has had on an already struggling industry. We have really listened to the client base, and our competitors simply went home after locking up their facilities! We have managed to maintain the turnover of the business from last year and increased profits - which has enabled me to re-invest into the business. This, in turn, has secured further valve management contracts with some major Oil & Gas clients.

We managed to get a re-award of a multi-million-pound contract held since 2014, in today’s competitive market this is a big achievement. We are confident going into our new financial year (April 2021) that we can achieve a turnover of over £10M. This will be a planned and sustained growth that the whole team has worked hard for.

I pride myself in staff engagement, I see the positive results of taking time to speak to everyone regularly.

ES: Are there any particular goals that CVS has set for the next few years?

MB: The goal at CVS is very clear - to be the best valve management and service provider in the UK. We have always set our standards high; we have a 7-year growth strategy that is very well mapped out and understood by every staff member, from apprentices to senior management. We have muscled our way to the #2 spot in Aberdeen and will soon overtake our rival in becoming the top company for valve management.

As more contracts are awarded to CVS, we grow. As we grow, we become even more efficient at what we do. This adds great benefit to clients, both existing and new. We aim to open a dedicated service centre soon - which will enable our product sales to increase, whilst seeing the service offerings grow into new clients and industries.

ES: You’re currently on an Entrepreneurial Scotland eVolve cohort — what have you gleaned from it so far?

MB: To not be the self-taught leader that I have become, instead using the tools available to get situations resolved. To inspire others to make decisions and assist them to grow and realise their potentials. Not to offer answers to everything that lands at the door but to challenge others in an inspirational way and motivate the team to bring solutions with issues raised.

In general, just to open my mind more to the surroundings and to understand that you do not have to come up with every solution, just because you can. I am also amazed at the challenges that other entrepreneurs face on a day-to-day basis, I have engaged with a few members of the cohort out of the programme and really benefited from it.

MB: When you’re looking for new talent in the business, what are the most important qualities that you look for?

MB: Very simple, I do not employ a*****s! We have a robust recruitment process, once we have filtered CVs and got a list of people of interest we first arrange for an informal chat. This consists of a site tour, a very relaxed conversation in a non-formal environment where we talk about everything but work for a while, we work out what makes this person tick and why are they in front of us, once we get the person relaxed, we start to discuss previous work experiences in a non-interview style.

Following on from the informal chat, and if we are still keen to interview, we as them to complete a psychometric profile online, we compare the results with our own notes from the informal chat and if nothing jumps out, we proceed to interview. What we are looking for at CVS are people who can treat people with respect, who do not have hidden agendas, who want to simplify processes and procedures, and people that can communicate at all levels.

We have a 7-year growth strategy that is very well mapped out and understood by every staff member, from apprentices to senior management.

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ES: Do you believe there is a winning formula for becoming a successful entrepreneur? What's yours?

MB: Yes, I do, be yourself and keep your feet on the same ground as everyone else. We are all human, and that is all we are.

I take great pleasure in engaging with every member of my team. Watching apprentices become engineers, and even rising to senior positions, is magic for me. But the most important thing for me is being honest. At CVS we have a mantra - HITS: Honesty, Integrity, Transparency, Safety. This is not something to push under the noses of our client to show we engage with similar standards to them, but more for every member of staff to abide by, if someone at CVS cannot answer a question with HITS in mind or talk to a colleague with HITS then something is wrong, and they should stop and discuss with their line manager.

Being honest is so important in business, no matter who you are discussing or what is being discussed. I believe business is the simplest thing on the planet - it is people that complicates it.

ES: What are some of the mistakes you wished you could have avoided? And tips you would now give yourself for when you first started the business?

MB: Be careful when choosing a bank and financial advisors. I wish I had spent time interviewing banks when I started the business. Instead I went with the first that came to mind, and the relationship was dreadful.

I managed to break free once my confidence was good enough, I did interview three banks and made the right choice. I now have a great relationship with a very supportive bank. Financial decisions for business require thought and careful planning with future plans laid out.

I take great pleasure in engaging with every member of my team. Watching apprentices become engineers, and even raising to senior positions is magic for me.

ES: As a member of the ES Community, what do you feel is the biggest benefit and value brought?

MB: The knowledge that there are so many likeminded people that you could bounce things off, communicating at a level that people understand is a huge benefit. Being a business leader is very tough on every aspect of your being, but the harder we work, the more issues we overcome, and the tougher we seem to be - which means that you are not really able to express your anxiety or let your emotions flow, because leaders do not crumble!

However, with the ES Community, we all know what is going on with each other, we have all been there! So you can take the mask away and be yourself, share experiences and learn from each other.

ES: What kind of standard did you encounter when you supported the Saltire Scholars programme with their candidate interview process? What stood out?

MB: Firstly, I would like to say that the organisation that went into the week was, in my opinion, one of the best I have seen. Extremely professional yet totally engaging.

I personally enjoyed the whole day and was fascinated by the talent that was in front of myself, I also felt a great sense of pride for what we have coming through in the next generation. The level of engagement from the candidates was on another level to when I was starting my career. I think it is so exciting to see the youth of today engaging and being so determined in making a difference to the world.

With the ES Community, we all know what is going off with each other, we have all been there! So you can take the mask away and be yourself, share experiences and learn from each other.

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The Cohort for our next Catalyst programme Innovation and Growth: Post Crisis draws together ambitious leaders from a variety of sectors, with different backgrounds, strengths, experiences and outlooks. This programme — designed in partnership with Babson College — will offer crucial innovation principles, methods, and tools to leaders from all sectors — better equipping them to change the game in their market, in the short and long term. Limited spaces remain, applications close soon. For more information on the programme and its cohort here or email andy.macnicol@entrepreneurialscotland.com