As thousands of young people wait – some eagerly, others indifferently – for that so-called, future-defining text or email, know this: higher education isn’t necessarily the be-all-and-end-all.
It’s at this time of year we are all reminded by the media of famous high school failures and degree-dropouts. We’ve heard all the names before – Steve Jobs, Mark Zuckerberg, Richard Branson, Muhammad Ali, Simon Cowell, Harry Styles.
If we look less to the stars and closer to home, we can find plenty of examples of individuals that have compensated for lack of formal qualifications with skills and hard work. One such example would be that of DVI Technologies founders, Stephen Murney and James McLaughlin.
The business duo, who both finished their high school careers when it was legally permissible to do so, took their handful of O-Grades (an ancestor to today’s National 4 and National 5 qualifications) and entered the job market.
Stephen said, “Back then, believe it or not, Blackpool attracted young people the way Zante does today. So, my first job was actually as a sous chef in Bosley Grill, but that didn’t last long at all, and I was an apprentice glazier & joiner after a couple of weeks. It was in that career that I eventually returned to Glasgow.”
Stephen’s path first crossed with James’ on a train to Glasgow Central and then again later that same day when they bumped into each other in a corridor at BP Exploration. Stephen had moved on from being a joiner to work in data comms, and James was in telecoms.
James said, “The minute I spotted Stephen, I remembered him as the guy I saw on the train that morning. To be fair, it was his tie I remembered; it was something else!”
When the oil giant moved its operations to Aberdeen, the duo went their separate ways for a year or two, working for different cabling companies before taking the plunge – buying a red van and going into partnership together to create DVI Technologies.
Stephen said, “After only a few years, we had an offer from a company in East Kilbride to buy us out. I remember us both feeling a bit like Richard Branson at that time, but we didn’t sell our growing company; it was too early. The experience, though, reinforced to us that DVI was doing well and could be very lucrative, so we made plans to grow.”
Local to global
In the years that followed, DVI was firmly established as a successful company that, today, operates around the world – from Europe and America to the Middle East, Asia and Africa – delivering IT infrastructure, networking services, and electrical & telecoms installations for big brands and leading FM companies.
As if that didn’t keep them busy enough, the pair set up a second company, Prioto. The idea for Prioto was borne following DVI’s introduction to a heating system that was marketed to their clients as a way to save money. However, through installation and maintenance contracts, they soon learned that the system wasn’t going to achieve the promised savings.
So, having deemed the system not fit-for-purpose and with smart technology on the rise but Internet of Things (IoT) (in business environments certainly) still in its relative infancy, the electrical and automation experts, along with their Technical Director, Tom McCue, sought to create a solution that would be suitable for commercial buildings, and financially affordable for smaller businesses.
Their goal was to create a heating system that would (1) save energy, reducing the carbon footprint of the building, as well as utility bills; (2) make buildings work smarter; and (3) enable facilities staff to work more efficiently by offering remote control, management, and monitoring options.
What they have succeeded in engineering is a whole suite of Prioto solutions – heating, lighting, access, security, leak detection, commercial and social housing monitoring, CO/CO2, and more.
With changing technology allowing for increased functionality, combined with the fact that their solutions are so innovative and affordable, even for small businesses and buildings, Prioto is starting to look like a creative alternative to traditional, and often complex, Building Management Systems.
With turnover expected to double from last financial year, DVI continue to defend buy-out offers – the latest from a company based in the US.
It just goes to show that exam results – good or bad – are only the beginning. Whether you have decided, or your exam results dictate, that an academic route to your chosen career isn’t for you just remember there is no wrong path; DVI started as two men with a red van. Mighty oaks from little acorns grow.