When Ian Davidson was made redundant the day before his wedding in 1989, he decided to start a business. “I was in an altered state,” he says. “I blame it on the champagne hangover.”

Using his redundancy money, his new wife’s earnings and grants from the Department of Trade and Industry, the engineering graduate founded Boiler Management Systems to make fuel-efficiency systems for power stations. He went on to develop a computerised sensor that detects the level of soot and ash in power-station furnaces.

The business took off when Davidson wrote a paper for America’s Environmental Protection Agency’s newsletter, which was seen by Applied Synergistics, an American company. It now does Davidson’s marketing in America and has installed his systems in 85 power stations, driving up sales of the Sheffield company by 207% a year, from £126,000 in 1998 to £1.2m in 2000, with just six staff.

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Company details
Year2001
Rank7
CompanyBoiler Management Systems
ActivityPowerstation systems developer
LocationSheffield
Average 3 year sales growth207.06%
Latest sales £000s1,183
Staff5
Founded1989

If applicable:

* supplied by company † annualised figure