Welsh Water-Treatment Company Is Going Global; Robert Llewellyn Jones Talks to the Chief Executive of One of the Country's Leading Technology Firms, Wayne Preece of Hydro Industries

Article excerpt

THE signing of a joint-venture agreement with one of the world's largest salvage companies has launched Hydro Industries on its 2013 growth strategy. As its name suggests this Llangennech-based company, set up in 2011 operates in a sector devoted to that most valuable of Earth's resources - water.

The company's chief executive Wayne Preece said: "This is a high-tech company specialising in the design, manufacture and operation of electro-based water-treatment products."

Standing before one of those immense containers, normally seen stacked on an ocean-travelling vessel, surrounded by welders, electricians and fabricators he explained the innovative, cost-effective and environmentally-friendly solutions to water treatment Hydro provides.

He said: "Hydro's knowledge and expertise is founded on 35 years experience in the water and environmental industries. Our team here has successfully pioneered a number of firsts in environmental electrochemistry, for process-design and adaptive software-control."

He added: "Recently we have designed, built and installed electrochemical water and effluent treatment plants for a range of global blue-chip companies worldwide for a variety of applications such as drinking water, ground water remediation and oil and water separation."

The business in its current form began when Mr Preece, then working as a consultant to the defence industry, met Phil Morgan now Hydro's chairman while on a visit to Swansea University.

Mr Morgan who had worked as a water engineer since leaving university had developed a system for separating pollutants from water which he demonstrated on a bench test.

The result, Mr Preece recalled, was "incredible".

"Here was this man with a small operation working out of a university laboratory who had found difficulty in interesting companies to take up his system," he said.

"Because the operation was small, large companies tended to be risk-averse."

The impression made led to Hydro Industries being established in 2011. An aggressive marketing strategy throughout 2012 resulted in its winning the Best Start Up category in the Institute of Welsh Affairs and Western Mail Business Awards last year.

"During this time we spoke to many different clients which led to us getting major players interested and the acquisition of many new contracts," he explained.

"We developed Shell as a key client and Morganite which helped us win our recent contract with steel giant Tata in Calcutta.

"Through our collaboration with waste-management and recycling specialist Darlow Lloyd we are about to ship out to India what we think is the first system of its kind for water and iron recovery on the back of a 20-year contract."

The current strategy adopted by Hydro's management focuses on five operational divisions.

Itemising these Mr Preece said: "Following the joint venture agreement with T&T Salvage our marine division will be a beneficiary of this company's US presence."

He added: "This opens a door for us that will lead to many opportunities.

We have already done work with specialist marine services company Svitzer in Holland. Hydro recently worked with them on an oil seepage where we separated 500 tonnes of oily water an hour through our system, the fastest oil-water separation using electricity on record."

Work like this, he believes, has helped the business gain credibility with companies like T&T Salvage.

The second area of operation he points to is the mining sector where there are opportunities for water remediation and Hydro's utilities division where talks are underway with companies like Scottish and Welsh Water.

He said: "We have the ground water-remediation sector that takes us into the building industry where we have contracts in West Wales. In addition we are looking at landfill leachate which we can process at source saving local authorities money for its disposal while safeguarding the environment. …