February Lunch:
Jim McColl OBE, Clyde Blowers

The Ibrox Suite, Ibrox Stadium

Tuesday 23rd February 2016

Jim left school at the age of 16. His first job was that of apprentice in one of Glasgow’s leading engineering companies, Weir Pumps. After working for six years with Weir Pumps he left to study full time for a BSc degree in Technology and Business Studies at Strathclyde University. He returned to Weir Pumps for another three years during which he studied part-time for a Masters degree in Business Administration.

In 1981 Jim was appointed to a senior management position in Diamond Power Speciality Limited, an engineering company that supplied equipment to the power industry worldwide. Jim was in charge of engineering, project management and manufacturing. At the same time, Jim completed a 3 year part-time course of study towards a Masters in International Accounting and Finance. In 1985, Jim was head-hunted by Coopers & Lybrand as a senior consultant in corporate care. His job was to work with companies that were experiencing financial difficulties and needed turning around. In 1986, realising that he could do similar work on his own account, he left Coopers & Lybrand and became a self-employed “company doctor”.

Role At Clyde Blowers

After several successful turnarounds, Jim bought in 1992 a 29.9% stake in Clyde Blowers plc, a small engineering company with a full listing on the London Stock Exchange. Jim led a management buyout of Clyde Blowers plc (now Clyde Bergemann Power Group) to take the company private.

Over the past 12 years, Clyde Blowers has grown significantly and has developed into a portfolio of global engineering companies. During 2001, the Clyde Blowers business was reorganised into discrete independent companies focusing on core markets. These businesses each had their own ownership structure but in common they had a Clyde Blowers executive team as the driver of the strategic direction.

In May 2007, Jim announced the acquisition of Weir Pumps (Glasgow) from The Weir Group plc. The diverse portfolio of technologies, process knowledge and expertise generated by Weir Pumps was incorporated into a newly created company, Clyde Pumps Ltd, and in so doing 600 jobs and an important part of Scotland’s engineering heritage was saved. Jim is an FCA Approved Person.

In September 2008, Jim led the largest transaction in Clyde Blowers’ history by acquiring the entire Fluid & Power Division of Textron Inc, an American Fortune 500 multi-industry company in a deal worth over $1 billion for which he received the Deal of the Year Award and Investment Deal of the Year Award at the Insider Deals: Dealmakers Awards.


Jim has received a number of honours and awards over the past 12 years including the Entrepreneurial Exchange “Entrepreneur of the Year Award” for 1999/2000, the Ernst & Young “Master Entrepreneur of the Year Award” in 2001 and was inducted into The Entrepreneurial Exchange Hall Of Fame (2002). He has been awarded Honorary Doctorates from five Universities – Napier University, Glasgow Caledonian University, University of Glasgow and from the Universities of Stirling and Strathclyde.

In 2001, Jim was honoured in the Queen’s Birthday Honours List with an OBE. In July 2005, HRH the Duke of Edinburgh awarded Jim with The Prince Philip Medal 2005 “Certificate of Achievement” for an outstanding contribution to the engineering industry. In May 2006, Jim was presented with a Scottish International Business Achievement award from HRH the Princess Royal.

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