Interview with Michael Knox CEO of International Cable Management

Wednesday, Aug 05, 2009

Michael Knox is the CEO of International Cable Management, a service company in cable and wire distribution, operating across the international energy sector. He was born in Aberdeen where he now resides.

Mike was educated in Glasgow where he was brought up in the West End of the city as a Barnardo boy.

Mike and Cables have been together ever since he started his career as an electrician. After completing his apprenticeship with Balfour Kilpatrick he subsequently entered the oil industry with BK as a material controller on the BNOC /Britoil Thistle A project in the North Sea.

Mike then went on to set up his own consultancy company which focused on electrical and instrument disciplines and management and procurement of Cables and Electrical products. During the next 5 years Mike worked on various North Sea Projects including BNOC, Thistle A, Chevron Ninian South, Britoil Beatrice A, B and C., and latterly BP Magnus.

Having completed 5 years experience in the Offshore Oil and Gas industry, Mike moved on and established North Sea Cables, a stockist and distributor of cables for the offshore oil and gas industry. The company in a very short time became the leading cable distributor for offshore Cables and associated products in Europe. During the next 10 years subsidiary companies and bases were established in Norway, Holland and England.

Having established NSC in Europe, Mike’s vision was to take the company global and with investment from a VC, North Sea Cables became Noskab and Mike set about organically establishing companies and bases across Asia, Australia and the Middle East. The final piece of the jigsaw was to establish a presence in America. A decision which resulted in acquiring an established distributor in Houston, Texas.

In 2002 due to a combination of two major projects in the USA going into chapter 11 and difficult trading conditions in America, Mike lost control to the VC and as a direct result Mike exited. Six months later and with no direction and leadership NOSKAB went into receivership. The Knox family lost a substantial sum due entirely to the VC. Lesson learnt.

The following year, 2003 Mike and his son established Caspian International Cables, now International Cable Management, a 100% family owned business. The companies’ head office is in Aberdeen with offices in London and Dubai.

The company has two divisions, projects and distribution. Projects which focus on major Greenfield and Brownfield projects across the energy sector including Oil & Gas and Power & Renewables. The Distribution division services both UK and export clients day to day requirements across various industry sectors including OGP and P&R.

What is the biggest difference you have noticed in business today compared to when you first started in distribution?

Competition. Business today is global and as result much more competitive. Also the internet has contributed to global competitiveness. However client and respective industry relationships remain highly important. Emerging countries including China and India have also contributed to making the business more competitive.

What markets are strong at present?

Oil and Gas at $60 a barrel has resulted in many projects being postponed and or delayed, however it is still pretty active and will continue to be so particularly with the offshore module fabricators and shipyards. Downstream activities are also quieter with parts of the world holding up. As the oil price increases these industries will get busier. Power, including nuclear and renewables will play an important role across the world in the coming decades as too will water.

What parts of the world at present are busy and will be in the future?

In the Oil and Gas sector activity is picking up with certain regions experiencing ongoing activity. In particular, EuroAsia.—Kazakhstan. Asia, China, Singapore and Korea also Indonesia and Australia. The Middle East, Abu Dhabi, Saudi Arabia and Qatar are all busy. In South America, Brazil, whilst West and North Africa including Algeria, Libya, Nigeria and Angola are all active and will continue to be so at $60 a barrel. These regions and countries will experience increased growth as the price of oil and gas increases and power plant projects are implemented.

What markets do you see you participating in the future?

We will continue to focus on the OGP and also other Energy sectors both in power and renewable.

Where do you see the company in 5 years time?

Our goal is be international operating across various regions in our industry. At present we are committed to increasing our share of the business in Europe and repeating the strategy in the Middle East. Our skills are easy to transfer, however the personnel are at times more difficult to appoint particularly in overseas locations. International is our goal and across different regions subject to appointing key personnel.

What type of person do you seek to recruit?

Our team are multi cultural and talented, the majority are young and the average age with the

exception of myself is 30 years. Our team enjoy the business, are energetic and experienced. Good communication and teamwork, and the ability to be flexible and inquisitive are tools which are an essential ingredient in our line of business. The ability to recognise that you are never too old to learn is also a valuable tool no matter the age.

Do you have any other interests in business?

Yes I am also a director of an online media and publication business Red Mist Media. Again the team is young and energetic and enjoy the business. For an insight visit http://www.yourprojectnews.com and http://www.thecabledirectory.com

What interests do you have outside your work?

Outside of business my main interest is spending as much time with my wife and my family. We recently have had an addition to the family our first grandchild, our granddaughter, a real treasure and character. We all enjoy travel and visiting the world. I also enjoy watching and playing golf.