Sun, sustainability and surplus assets

Neil is MD at Ramco. An engineer, innovator and critical thinker, he’s responsible for guiding the business to make sure no surplus asset goes to waste.

We find value in surplus assets, so it makes sense that the home for our family-run business is a former ball-bearing factory. We relocated to the 120,000 square-foot facility in 2010 and we’ve now converted the warehouse in (sometimes) sunny Skegness into a hub for powering the circular economy.

Working for an engineering company, I imagined a better way of getting rid of surplus assets

I left school at 16 and went straight into a youth training scheme (YTS) at a local engineering company. I was delighted with my £25 a week, but I wasn’t just in it for the money! Aside from cutting my teeth in engineering, I also spent some time at a business that reconditioned bottling machinery, where I learnt a lot about product lifecycles. I could see there was a different way of disposing of surplus assets, without them having to go to waste.

Doing the right thing with idle equipment isn’t just environmentally friendly, it can be profitable

Inspired to have a go creating my own business, I set up a company to trade goods that were no longer needed. Initially, most of the stock I was buying came from the Ministry of Defence (MoD). Then the contract to manage the sale of the MoD’s surplus assets came up. I made my bid and Ramco was born.

I think we stood out to the MoD because our values aligned so much. We were the new kids on the block at the time but we understood that audit, compliance, and traceability were key. We also recognised that sustainability was just as important as shillings and pounds. 26 years on and we’re now the MoD’s sole contractor for the sustainable reuse of surplus commercial assets. We also support clients across a range of other sectors: emergency services, leisure and entertainment, energy and utilities and more recently care homes too.

The MoD were way ahead of the curve, but today more and more companies are waking up to the importance of doing the right thing with equipment they no longer have a use for. There’s also a greater understanding that doing good, is actually good for business: ensuring your surplus assets don’t end up as a waste stream or in landfill can be profitable.

Tech has revolutionised how we work

Technology has played a huge role in changing how we work. It was a revelation when fax machines and colour printers first came in. If we wanted to send a proposal or print a brochure, suddenly we no longer had to leave the premises.

Now we have slick software for managing the warehouse inventory and our auctions. We’re able to handle projects on a much bigger scale, track every item through its journey with us, and with social media and advertising, we can sell globally to our network of thousands of buyers.

We predict plenty more changes in the future, but one thing that’ll stay the same is our passion for the job

In the quarter of a century since we were founded, there have been seen six prime ministers, two recessions and the invention of the iPhone. Even the trusty fax machine is now long gone.

Over the next 25 years we expect plenty more to change. Electric cars will become standard or perhaps hydrogen ones. And with all these billionaires blasting off, holidays in space don’t look too out of this world either. But one thing that’ll never change is our passion for finding value in kit that’s no longer needed.

It’s hugely rewarding to know we’re powering a change that benefits the planet. It’s great fun too, which is an enormous bonus. When a lorry arrives with a new load, we don’t always know what we’re getting. We love sorting through the items to see what’s there. That enjoyment never goes away, it’s like Christmas every day here!