Uist Asco Ltd is a start‐up company based in North Uist, owned by brothers Raghnall and Angus Maclain and their father Donald. It produces organic dried and milled seaweed for a number of applications, but primarily for the purpose of animal feed and fertiliser for farmers and landowners. At their production site near Sollas, the business dries locally harvested seaweed via an Alvin Blanch dryer that is heated by a 999kW woodchip fired biomass boiler, supplied by Wood Energy Ltd. This long established island industry is being revitalised by the Maclain family’s investment and commitment to the local economy.
To make their business a reality, the Maclains needed seed capital to acquire the biomass boiler and plant. They wanted to find a funding partner that would understand their vision for the business and who was prepared to finance a start‐up based on the strength of their business plan.
Ken Lancaster, a broker who specialises in funding solutions for farmers across Scotland and the UK, introduced the Maclain brothers to James Waterson, Area Sales Manager at Close Brothers Asset Finance in late 2012.
With his expertise in financing the renewables sector, James worked closely with the Maclains and their elected partners, including renewable energy advisers Re:heat, accountancy firm Johnston Carmichael and law firm Harper Macleod. Together they were able to provide guidance and help structure a business model and funding package that would get the business off the ground.
Close Brothers Asset Finance agreed a hire purchase facility over a seven‐year term. This funding has allowed Uist Asco Ltd to acquire the 999kW biomass boiler, thus helping the Maclains realise a business idea that had been in the planning for five years.
The biomass boiler has enabled the business to start taking customer orders and its green credentials mean that they qualify for the government’s Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI), which offers further financial support.
James said: “As with all these types of projects, the funder needs to deliver and therefore is wholly reliant on finding credible and professional partners. That’s what makes the Uist Asco deal such a fantastic opportunity, we worked with great partners and collectively, I believe, we created great value for the customer.”