With a heritage of investment and growth, the entrepreneurial spirit that was established from the formation of Highland Fuels still runs through the company over 65 years on. The geographical development has been vast, with the independent distributor now boasting 11 depots across Scotland as well as commercial reach into the north of England. The business operates a fleet of over 45 road tankers, owns 16 petrol stations and is supported by over 250 employees spread between its most southerly office located in Manchester to its most northerly office based in Lerwick, Shetland.
Chairman and owner, George Shand has always been mindful of the loyalty of the staff and the company’s roots in the north of Scotland. “We’re proud of being different. We’re a Highland-based company with a very wide reach. We live our values,” George shared.
Having previously led a management buyout of Highland Fuels in 2001, which was built around ensuring the company remained in local hands, George has again been considering the future of the company.
Working with his fellow directors, he was keen to find a business model that preserves the company’s rich heritage and, importantly, maintains continuity of operations and employment for the long term, in keeping with the long-established company culture.
The employee ownership route was identified as one to retain the core values and company purpose, whilst also further empowering the team to drive the company’s growth into the future.
Managing director Stephen Rhodes added: “Employee ownership is perfect for us. It truly enables every single employee to benefit from the company’s advancement and provides the right platform for us to realise a positive culture, high engagement and great performances as we progress to the future”.
Employee ownership is an increasingly popular route for many private companies and there are now over 1,400 employee-owned companies in the UK, with 170 of them in Scotland. Highland Fuels joining this growing number as one of the most recent and also one of the largest only serves to reinforce the positive trend.