EFC Group's Highland Team Continues to Grow

June 10, 2013

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Published Executive Magazine, June 2013

"Research has shown that the North East of Scotland has bucked the UK trend and enjoyed a growing economy during the most recent financial crisis, primarily as a result of the buoyant oil and gas industry. This is an industry which generates billions of pounds of revenue each year and encourages significant investment, as well as employing tens of thousands of people. The impact of this can particularly be felt in Aberdeen and the surrounding area, with more and more workers required to fill a skills gap that the oil and gas industry is currently undergoing.

Employers in the energy sector are beginning to look at alternative and innovative recruitment options to address this problem, including recruiting from complementary industries where workers have developed transferable skills. Opening new office bases outside of the usual areas is another emerging option, which opens up job vacancies to those who may have previously been deterred by a long commute to their workplace.

Aberdeen-headquartered EFC Group is one company that has championed both of these employment routes, in particular growing its presence in Scotland with the opening of two new bases in the Highlands in less than 12 months.

The Group, which is a leading designer and manufacturer of instrumentation, monitoring, handling and control systems for the global oil and gas industry, launched a new satellite office at Enterprise Park, Forres in July 2012 and impressed with the quality of staff available in the area, moved into its first manufacturing facility in Forres in November 2012. Last month, EFC Group announced that its plans for phase three expansion had been fast tracked with the construction of a new, four times larger manufacturing base at the same location.

Representing a £100,000 investment, the new 16,000ft2 plant will be opened 12 months ahead of schedule, demonstrating how EFC Group is driving forward its aggressive growth strategy.

EFC Group CEO Bob Will said: “I’m delighted that we have been able to open our second Scottish manufacturing facility, which will support our existing, busy plant in Aberdeen and the thriving order book we have achieved in last 12 months.

“Staff retention, particularly in Aberdeen, is a challenge facing every employer, not just the small-to-medium companies, although it is always difficult to compete with the major operators and service companies. This is why a key part of EFC Group’s recruitment and retention strategy is to widen our net, both geographically and into other similar sectors to the oil and gas industry.

“Opening the bases in Forres was a strategic decision for us. The slow growth rate of traditional industries in the area doesn’t offer much in the way of advancement for the majority of employees. As part the energy industry, which continues to grow, we offer our employees a broader range of career opportunities and advancement both at home and abroad.

“The downsizing of the Armed Forces and the pool of trained personnel that were released into the area was another key factor in our move to the Highlands and the decision to increase the scale of our operations there. Much of EFC’s rapid growth is down to teamwork and recruiting ex-military personnel brings individuals who have spent years working in cohesive units.”

The oil and gas side of the energy industry has had a fairly successful 50 years in the North East of Scotland. With the correct training, much of which will come via local educational and Highlands & Islands Enterprise (HIE) initiatives, EFC hopes to develop world class teams into a long term stable workforce, which will build world class equipment in the Highlands for the next 50 years and beyond.

“Enterprise Park offered an ideal, purpose built premises in which EFC is able to continue developing the innovative, customer centric solutions that we are internationally renowned for. The new base has not only allowed us to recruit from a new, previously untapped market, but has also enables us to attract experienced oil and gas project & design engineers of both hydraulic and electrical disciplines.

“We strive to ensure that we can offer an attractive employment package which includes opportunities to personally develop technical and office-based skills, a positive work environment with the chance to progress with the company and importantly, maintain a beneficial work/ life balance which overall will lead to a long-term stable workforce that are encouraged to reach their highest potential. Our new office plays an instrumental part of this by allowing people to work locally - why spend 3 to 4 hours a day commuting when you don’t need to.

“The HIE staff were also a key source of support in setting up our new bases. They demonstrated that there was a real opportunity to build our presence in Forres and in particular, to facilitate a smooth transition into our phase two plan and now into phase three more quickly than anticipated.”

The current manufacturing facility sees the number of EFC Group employees based in the region reach 18 – eight more staff than originally anticipated – including project and software engineers to design and project manage the company’s extensive range of control systems. This has brought EFC Group’s global headcount up to 128.

Recruitment in the Highlands is to remain high on the agenda for the future, with EFC Group actively targeting workers with a background in instrumentation, control and automation as well as ex-Armed Forces and engineers with subsea oil and gas experience – all of which have a high presence in the area. Phase three expansion should see the EFC Group team grow past 40 to 50.

Those who enter the oil and gas sector from other industries can go on to have very successful, progressive careers, given the appropriate training and support mechanisms.

For instance, EFC Group has developed a specific induction and training programme this includes a product application course which allows new recruits to understand how EFC Group’s offering fits into the industry.

The training and induction initiatives that EFC Group offers across the board have received high recognition, in particular being shortlisted in two categories at the recent Cherries awards, which celebrate HR and recruitment success in the North East of Scotland.

“In our 25th anniversary year, this is a perfect time to take stock of what we have achieved, and what we need to do to ensure success is sustainable and continues in the long term.

“As our industry moves towards ever more stringent levels of safety and integrity levels (SIL ratings) we have invested in the systems, processes and certification to deliver best in class products. As our clients move to multiples of more standardised products we have scaled up to meet the demand that can no longer be met by our major competitors.

“As part of our growth plans, we will be increasing our number of offshore personnel in order to complete system warranty extension visits and electric and hydraulic gauge calibration services. Extending the range of services is crucial to the high level of client support that EFC Group is known for providing and to achieve this, we must make use of competent and enthusiastic personnel.”

There is a clear theme running throughout all of EFC Group’s recent growth – skilled people are critical to the company’s success. They form the best teams and deliver the best products and service, and so EFC is pulling out all the stops to ensure that it recruits the very best."

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