Get to know our Member Businesses and the people behind them in our series, 10 Questions.
Name: Matt Knight
Clean Growth UK Hub: Green Growth Platform (South East)
How did you find out about the Green Growth Platform?
I found a LoCASE grant flyer on my doorstep, and coming from a university research background, I was familiar with grants, but unfamiliar that they were available for small businesses. Anyway, I contacted the grant co-ordinator, Lorraine Bell, who is also the small business advisor at the GGP, and that started off my journey with the GGP.
Can you sum up what Akrovalve does in 1 or 2 sentences?
We are a manufacturer of water efficiency products and systems that control the water flow for industrial systems, such as pumps and water distribution networks and for homes that help save water and money.
What inspired you to start your Business?
It is a family business and I used to work here as a kid, then I went off to university and developed my own engineering career, but 3 years ago my father, who wanted to retire, asked if I wanted to take over company. It was making some great products and had a lot more potential that it was currently operating at, so I decided to take on a new challenge of transforming and growing the company.
What do you think makes Akrovalve special?
We love solving problems, whilst I’m modernising the manufacturing machinery and processes, we still have that ‘old charm’ of a small family business that wants to help customers find solutions to their problems.
What are the main challenges you are currently facing in your business today?
As a small company we find it hard to gain access to the big water distribution companies. We supply water flow control valves to several smaller local water companies who see and know the benefit of our products, but access to the big regional water companies is very challenging. They seem to be very bureaucratic and finding the right person that is interested in talking to a small company is difficult. As it happens, I have more business with the National Water Company of Papa New Guinea that I do with Southern Water or South East Water !
What is your highlight at Akrovalve to date?
Being part of the plastic free revolution. After years of working in overseas aid camps, our bottle re-filling tap is now making a difference in the UK with bottle refill stations at Alexandra Palace, Kenwood House and even the Glastonbury music festival.
Knowing all the things you know now, would you have gone about starting your business differently?
I was lucky that I stepped into a functioning company, the biggest problem I had was that the product knowledge was mostly trapped inside the heads of the old employees. Finding more time to sit down with the ‘wise-heads’ before they retired for knowledge transfer would have saved a lot of re-learning for us.
What’s next for Akrovalve?
To convert the new product ideas that are currently on my sketch pad into porotypes and hopefully fully functioning water saving devices.