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Saving food and garden waste from landfill by turning it into fuel

Keenan Recycling

Moment of inspiration

A chance encounter inspired serial entrepreneur Grant Keenan to start waste recycling group Keenan Recycling in 2003.

“I went for a meeting with Aberdeenshire Council and discovered it was putting all its garden waste into landfill,” explains Grant. “I didn’t know anything about recycling but I saw an opportunity, did a bit of research and that’s how it all started.”

The firm collects food and other organic waste from restaurants, care homes, hospitals and cafes and transforms it into electricity, heat, fuel and compost.

Experts in waste

After an introduction by BGF, the firm appointed Jim Clarke, founder of MSIS, an oil and gas waste management company, as non-executive chair.

BGF Talent Network  

One-stop shop

Keenan Recycling is proof that sometimes it takes a family to build a business. Grant’s brother and fellow director helped him raise the initial capital with a grant of £430,000 from the Waste Resources and Action Programme. His father then sold his business to invest in the company and his wife helped the business to expand.

Keenan Recycling soon gained a competitive advantage by offering large waste management companies a one-stop shop for food waste recycling. “If one of these companies wins a new contract with a food producer,” Grant explains, “they would have to find a food waste management company in every new area whereas we can cover the whole of Scotland with one contract.”

Keenan Recycling’s location in the North East of Scotland has helped fuel its growth. “There’s no doubt about it, we were blessed to be in Aberdeen. At that time, oil was booming and we got BP and Shell on board. They had environmental initiatives that included recycling food waste so we were fortunate.”

But the real driver for Keenan Recycling’s success, Grant explains, has been an unerring focus on the customer. “The secret to our growth has been customer service. We don’t miss bins. We care about what we do. We offer a first-class service. We work seven days a week, 24 hours a day.”

BGF's investment has helped the firm...

Invest in new machinery.

Expand in the Central Belt of Scotland, Leeds and Manchester

More than double revenues to about £10 million.

The right fit

Keenan Recycling’s strategy worked. The company soon saturated the North East of Scotland and were seeking capital to expand into the Central Belt. Keenan Recycling was approached by a number of private equity firms, but after meeting with BGF, Grant was confident the fit was right.

“We liked the BGF guys,” he says. “They took the time to get to know us. I phoned everybody in Scotland they’d invested in and everyone said they’d had a good experience.”

BGF invested £2.2 million into Keenan Recycling in September 2015. The funding has enabled the business to buy more machinery and expand.

We liked the BGF guys. They took the time to get to know us. I phoned everybody in Scotland they’d invested in and everyone said they’d had a good experience.

 

Grant Keenan, founder of Keenan Recycling

£2.2m

Invested by BGF in 2015.

Serving every postcode

“We were at £4.2 million turnover when BGF invested,” Grant explains. “Now, we are going towards £10 million.”

Looking to the future, Grant is confident that, in partnership with BGF, Keenan Recycling can continue to grow.

“We have expanded as far as Leeds and Manchester. The plan is to keep progressing south and get nationwide coverage so that we can serve every postcode in the UK by 2023.”

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