SDM Fuel Solutions named as one of UK’s fastest-growing private companies

FAST GROWING: Fuel management specialist SDM Fuel Solutions, headquartered near Southampton, Hampshire, is listed in the annual ranking by The Sunday Times as one of the UK’s fastest-growing private companies. Pictured, Managing Director Simon Mayne, centre, with Sales Director Craig Chiverton, left, and Operations Director Carl Shephard

A fuel management specialist in Hampshire has been named by The Sunday Times as one of Britain’s fastest-growing privately held companies at 14th place with annual sales growth of 174.98% over three years.

SDM Fuel Solutions, employing 45 people and led by Managing Director Simon Mayne, has seen annual sales exceed £6.1 million, with that figure on course to more than triple this financial year.

The company was founded by Simon, 37, and his late father in the family’s garden shed in the village of Binsted, near Ryde on the Isle of Wight.

With roots in the repair and maintenance of boats at marines, SDM Fuel Solutions expanded into tank cleaning after the son decided to see for himself what was involved in cleaning diesel tanks.

The company is currently based at Ower, just west of Southampton, and has plans to build a highly sustainable headquarters near Romsey on eight acres of disused land which would generate its own renewable power.

Simon said: “We’ve gone from starting out in a garden shed to a 20ft container to a warehouse and then offices for 75-plus people, with the exciting ambition for the new HQ, which would accommodate up to 200 people and includes a staff café, kitchen garden and a tree hide.

“I know my dad Simon, who passed away at 58, four years ago, would be incredibly proud of what has been achieved by his family and colleagues – The Sunday Times accolade will bring a wide smile on his face as he salutes us from above with a mug of tea.“

Simon’s father was well respected on the Isle of Wight – he owned SDM Marine Services, which managed the conversion of the Isle of Wight lighthouse from manned to unmanned.

He was joined by his son, who came from a background in superyachts, in 2009 and they initially focused on fuel treatment.

Then, in 2011, came the eureka moment; younger Simon saw a commercial future in tank cleaning, having seen first-hand how badly it had been done elsewhere.

Simon added: “Intrigued, I took a £300 course on tank cleaning and came back home on a Red Jet ferry across the Solent stinking of diesel.

“I said, ‘Dad, this is the way we should be going’, and our wives agreed – they were the ones who said we should really do this, they pushed us.

“As a result, SDM Fuel Solutions, incorporating my dad’s initials, was borne, with us growing tank cleaning and additive services in the marine sector. A massive fuel specification change in the industry also led to demand.

“We subsequently expanded into the tech sector, including FTSE 100 companies – data centres must have diesel generators as emergency back-up in case of outages because these are mission-critical business systems.

“The power generators need to run smoothly at a moment’s notice; there can be no room for contaminated fuel as this puts resilience at risk.“

As well as cleaning tanks that can hold up to 2 million litres, the company’s services include 24/7 emergency fuel, fuel polishing, fuel recovery, fuel sampling and site surveys, fuel uplifts and transfers, hydrotreated vegetable oil fuel, gas-to-liquid fuel, bespoke Jetstream filtration, fuel sampling kits, fuel testing, fuel cleaning and land decontamination.

Meeting The Sunday Times’ eligibility criteria, SDM Fuel Solutions has grown from a turnover of £250,000 to £6.2 million within four years due to significant commercial demand; a spin-out property division, which purchases and redevelops petrol stations, is expanding.

Simon put the success of the company down to ‘’great people and timing – we really have dialed in to employing great people, aligned with a long-term growth strategy underlined by our ‘inch-wide, mile-deep’ philosophy.

“The rate of growth is such that I’d be disappointed if we didn’t hit £30 million turnover by the last quarter of 2024. We are also looking at the water industry now as there is opportunity there.“

He also applauded the ‘pivotal work’ of three colleagues who particularly helped his father – Dean Scott, who held the fort while his dad was ill, Carl Shephard and Craig Chiverton.

SDM Fuel Solutions entered The Sunday Times listing following a suggestion from the company’s business coach, James Akin-Smith.

The Sunday Times citation reads: “The father-and-son team Simon and Simon Mayne dreamed of owning their own yachts rather than working on other people’s boats, so they set up SDM in 2011 to do just that. Based near Southampton, its main business is testing fuel for contamination and cleaning tanks. Mayne Sr died in 2019, leaving his son, 37, to achieve their dreams. Working with fellow directors Carl Shephard, 39, and Craig Chiverton, 38, Mayne Jr expects SDM’s sales to grow almost fivefold in two years, from £6.1 million last year to £30 million by 2024.”