With economic recovery on the way there are companies in Northern Ireland well placed to make the most of opportunities that arise. As part of our Small Business Can series Paul Gosling looks at four of them
The move to a lower carbon economy means that companies have to re-evaluate the way they do business. It also creates new commercial opportunities.
One firm that is exploiting those new opportunities is Lisburn-based Lighthouse Trading Company — and it is doing so by assisting and encouraging other firms to change the way they operate.
Low Energy Lamps
A typical Northern Ireland warehouse will be fitted with 60 to 100 units of 400 watt metal halide lamps. These can cost up to £140 a year to use. Replacing them with Lighthouse’s low energy lamps can save around £6,000 a year for a hundred units. Previously, though, doing this may not have been cost-effective because of the cost of replacing the complete light fitting.
Lighthouse’s high wattage lamps use the same technology as low energy bulbs and have all the components to operate the lamp already built in. So they can replace metal halide lamps by ‘retrofitting’, using existing fittings, rather than having to replace complete units.
In this way, customers’ payback periods will be typically three to six months, with a small capital outlay.
Not surprisingly, business is brisk for Lighthouse. It has worked closely with its Asian manufacturing partner and distributes supplies through the electrical wholesale network. It |also provides consultancy on reducing lighting demand.
Expanding into New Markets
Lighthouse is now expanding into other markets. It already supplies to both Northern Ireland and the Republic and has just entered into new supply arrangements with wholesalers in Scotland.
“The company has achieved substantial sales growth,” says David Martin, managing director of the firm. As well as supplying factories and warehouses and other commercial outlets, Lighthouse supplies gyms and retail outlets. David explains that a ‘retrofit’ of a petrol station forecourt can be completed for about £750 to £1,000, compared to around £6,000 to refit an entire canopy to take other forms of energy saving fittings.
Reducing Carbon Emissions
But while companies begin to recognise the opportunities to make often very substantial cash savings, they are also accepting the need to reduce carbon emissions. “It’s becoming more prevalent,” says David. “Most people are concentrating on how much money they can save, but now governments have got to meet CO2 emissions reductions and are actively encouraging businesses to reduce their CO2 emissions also.’’
Although the business is only 18- months-old, David calculates he has already saved his customers some half a million pounds in energy costs and over 5,000 tonnes in carbon emissions. Not bad for a new business.