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Describe your business in brief…
We are the inventors, designers and fabricators of a sustainable ductwork system named GatorDuct. Our system is manufactured from engineered corrugated cardboard which we treat with GatorSkin making the surface water resistant, fire retardant and anti-fungal.
This is the first time ductwork has become available in an unlimited variety of aesthetic finishes for an affordable price. GatorDuct is beginning to revolutionise the industry like never before and we are very proud of our British foundations. All of GatorDuct’s fabrication process (including procurement) is from UK shores and we are now exporting to the global market.
How would you describe that to a novice?
Steel based ductwork systems have been around for hundreds of years and are harmful to our earth’s natural resources whilst also being notoriously difficult to recycle. We have created an environmentally friendly ductwork system which can be put through our countries recycling chain with ease. GatorDuct also already contains 21.5% recycled material within the cardboard. We can now effectively ‘grow more ductwork’ by utilising managed forests.
What prompted you to enter the Innovation Showcase competition? Describe the innovation that you’ve entered the showcase with.
GatorDuct is the only sustainable option in the ductwork industry. Up until now there has been the choice of traditional galvanised steel or oil based insulation foam ductwork systems. This has been the case for hundreds of years without having an economically sound option. Zinc is the first natural resource to deplete in an estimated 15 years’ time at current mining rates which could spell a disaster for sheet metal industries.
Zinc is the key element for ensuring steel doesn't rust. We identified that without having a sustainable option there is a very valid reason for the industry to worry. Having selected the correct materials to ensure a sustainable and fully recyclable product, we set about adding a large list of USP's.
As well as having an all-encompassing protective layer on the engineered board, our system is up to 80% lighter, 20% cheaper and much safer to work with. This is also the first time that ductwork can now be made highly visible in graphics and logos through a UV printing process or it can also be blended into the background of the internal construction.
We receive enquiries on a daily basis from all over the globe and we feel we now have a duty to offer GatorDuct to assist in the environmental re-balancing of our industry. Our highly innovative and revolutionary system prompted us to enter the showcase after being made aware of the competition through the Business Growth Hub.
What are the biggest challenges you face?
Social acceptance has been the largest challenge especially in the UK. The British construction industry has used steel systems for over 100 years and to integrate a new sustainable system was always going to be difficult. Through site visits and presentations to architects, consultants, builders and contractors we are now seeing huge interest whilst also receiving global demand. We’ve had very little need for marketing with us being the only sustainable solution worldwide.
What are your biggest professional achievements to date?
Having established a streamlined delivery process from procurement of bespoke and patented items through to fabrication and installation, we are now handing GatorDuct systems over to large blue chip clients in the global domain.
The more GatorDuct is used throughout the world of commercial retail, manufacturing and engineering sectors and government led projects, will only generate greater demand for GatorDuct and also raise awareness of other sustainable solutions.
How do you feel about presenting to potentially hundreds of people at Venturefest Manchester?
Having travelled around the country seeing some of the largest and most prestigious companies in the UK with GatorDuct, we see this as another compelling presentation opportunity to a knowledgeable audience. We have been past finalists of Ecobuild’s Big Pitch Showcase in partnership with Marks and Spencer’s and this is up there in the same exciting category.
What would winning the Innovation Showcase mean to your business?
Winning such an award would really underline our commitment to having a sustainable impact on the construction and ductwork industries. After a development phase and trading period accumulating to five years, this would set us up for a strong future and show we’re doing the absolute best we possibly can with our resources.
Where do you see your company in five years time?
In another five years’ time we want to have established a larger international footprint. We want to do this whilst still maintaining our UK procurement and exporting to all corners of the globe. Having already set up in places such as Turkey, Dubai and India our passion for the international market is only growing.
Enquiries from the worldwide market are only coming in faster, with greater numbers and it almost feels like a necessity for us to allow them access to the only sustainable ductwork system on the globe. The creation of jobs in the UK as a result of our export model only drives us further to prioritising this area of our business.
What advice would you give to aspiring innovators?
It would be better to let one of our managing directors and inventors of GatorDuct answer this question, Karl Sullivan: “Always believe in yourself and your product, even when it feels like believing in the tooth fairy would be easier. Most people don't like change so don't expect them to be on board with you from the off; the world turns at a constant speed and sometimes it just needs a little time to catch-up. Be patient, if you have the time!”