Ayrshire building contactors William Skinner & Son install wind turbine

From: Fame Publicity Services
Published: Fri Dec 01 2006

AS part of their commitment to the environment and to renewable energy, building contractors William Skinner & Son have installed a 6kW wind turbine at their St Quivox headquarters on the perimeter of Prestwick Airport.

The wind turbine was officially "switched on" at a ceremony today (Friday 1 November) by Ayr MSP John Scott.

In addition to the new wind turbine, William Skinner & Son have also acquired a photovoltaic system, as well as installing two different kinds of solar panel on the roof of their new office extension.

Both the wind turbine, generating electricity from the wind, and the photovoltaic cells, which generate electricity directly from the sun, will feed into the National Grid any energy that Skinners generate but don’t require at the time, and the solar panels will produce much of the hot water they use.

The company has also announced that it is now offering business and domestic customers both locally and nationally a range of renewable energy products and services. It already has a rapidly expanding order book for solar energy installations and is accredited to offer government renewable energy grants.

Managing director Sandy Cunningham explained: "Apart from our very rapid company growth, which has led us to want to diversify, it does seem a good idea to save on energy bills and do our bit to slow down climate change.

"Most renewable energy devices – equipment that generates electricity from the wind, waves or sun, or which heats water directly using energy from the sun – have been around for decades, in some cases for centuries. But they have not caught on till now, and they are still seen as mostly peripheral ways of contributing energy to the total required."

Skinners argue that three facts will very soon result in everybody clamouring for whatever renewable energy they can get, peripheral or not, the alternative being that they either won’t be able to get enough of it, or to afford it, as conventional fuels, (gas and oil), run out and prices continue to soar.

After all, whatever the cost of renewable energy sources, after what is already an acceptable payback period they produce free energy for the life of the system used – normally at least 25 years. People don’t have to think about climate change to justify them – they do that on energy cost savings alone.

The three facts are:

Oil and gas are running out, whilst the world demand for them is increasing. And we are at the end of the pipeline.

The amount of energy from the sun falling on each square metre of the earth’s surface is equivalent to 1,000kWh annually – so that alone is enough to meet the entire global demand for energy many times over. Even without wind, water and nuclear power we can manage easily without oil and gas. If we get our act together in time.

In real terms fuel prices have at least doubled in the last year, and they are likely to double again every couple of years or even faster than that. As a result, a system with a payback period of 10 years now will, in practice, pay for itself in less than half that time.


Ayr-based building contractor William Skinner & Son is a company that is going places fast.

In the last three years the business has trebled its turnover, quadrupled its profits, and opened a new Southern Office in Meldreth, near Cambridge.

Skinners now employ around 100 people from their head office at Highfield, St Quivox, just on the perimeter of Prestwick Airport.

Managing director Sandy Cunningham enumerates some of the reasons behind the company’s spectacular progress: hiring and looking after good employees, concentrating on profit margins and exerting tight control on overheads, and developing long-term relationships with key players in the core customer base in order to ensure repeat business and word-of mouth recommendations.

The board of directors deliberately involve the senior management team in company decision-making, and every single employee is financially accountable.

"We do not regard ourselves primarily as a building contractor," Sandy told Ayrshire Business. "Rather we are first and foremost a business that happens to be a building contractor. This means that we do not necessarily do things the way that building contractors have traditionally done things. Instead we tend to do things in the way that other successful businesses have done them."

Skinners concentrate predominantly upon refurbishment work rather than the construction of new buildings on green field sites, but also specialise in several other construction disciplines like joinery, tiling and plumbing.

Looking to the future, renewable energy figures prominently in William Skinner & Co’s plans.

Not least because, south of the Border new legislation to be enacted next year will require all new buildings over a certain size to produce 10% of their own energy requirements.

It seems likely that a similar law will soon follow in Scotland, and Skinners are determined to be in a state of readiness to take full advantage of the extra work opportunities that will inevitably ensue.

Detailed business plans have been agreed for the next five years, and this eminently successful company confidently expects to double its sales turnover again by 2010, whilst still maintaining its current level of profitability.

And in order to ensure that William Skinner & Son will never stray far from its roots, managing director Sandy Cunningham has even had it written into the company’s articles of association that it will always remain based in Ayrshire where it all began.


William Skinner & Son

Cunningham House
St Quivox
AYR, Ayrshire

Telephone: 01292 671188
Fax: 01292 671133

E-mail: enquiries@williamskinner.co.uk
Website: www.williamskinner.co.uk

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10 Miller Road
AYR, Ayrshire

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