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Investment set to create 300 new jobs at KNW

A GROUP of former Eaga executives are hoping to repeat the success story of the services giant after investing in another North East energy specialist.

It is hoped that 300 new jobs could be created as a result of the £250,000 investment in Newcastle-based KNW which is looking to grow on the back of the Government’s Green Deal initiative.

Ross Armstrong and Ken Middlemass of KNW

Ross Armstrong and Ken Middlemass of KNW

Under the agreement, KNW has been boosted by capital funding taken from a number of investors, many of whom were involved in the growth of Eaga.

Their aim is to grow sales to £15m by providing households across the region with incentives and financial packages to cut their energy use and lower their bills.

The deal sees Ross Armstrong take over as managing director of KNW with former boss Ken Middlemass stepping down after 27 years to take up post as non-executive chairman.

It will see not only 100 jobs protected at the Benfield Business Park-based firm, but also lay the foundations for further growth.

Armstrong joins the company having held responsibility for the £400m Warm Front contract at Eaga and leading the delivery of the digital switchover scheme, with more than 1,000 staff.

Support services company Carillion bought out Newcastle-based environmental services business Eaga for £300m in April last year. Armstrong left the company a month later and has since spent his time planning the investment and running of KNW.

He hopes it can replicate some of Eaga’s success.

“KNW is really rooted in the community and a company Eaga worked with a lot in the past. During my time at Eaga, I often thought to myself, if I was to leave this would be the firm I would like to work with,” he said.

“Eaga grew from a company employing just 300 staff in 2004 to an £800m business with more than 5,000 employees by 2008 and, with around 100 staff in their Newcastle HQ, I believe KNW represents a similarly exciting opportunity for growth in the same marketplace. The long-term aim is to create some employee ownership in the business. I’ve worked in an employee-owned company in the past and it worked very well. I find it a very interesting concept.”

Middlemass has overseen the development of KNW since 1985, working with a number of local authorities and housing providers to help insulate over 300,000 North East homes, as well as providing assistance with home heating and new renewable technologies such as solar panels.

With high energy prices dominating the headlines, the Green Deal initiative is intended to provide householders with incentives and financial packages to reduce energy and lower bills.

Middlemass said: “KNW has achieved a great deal in the last 30 years and it has been an honour to lead the company this far.”

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