THE founder of an Edinburgh-based security firm has been named Entrepreneur of the Year at the WeDo Scotland awards.
Putting on a kilt, buying tins of shortbread and knocking on strangers’ doors in Singapore is not everyone’s idea of starting out a new business. For Douglas Walker, it has been the recipe for success.
The 48-year-old decided to branch out on his own in 2011 by founding Claymore Security Solutions. His first move was to jump on a plane to Singapore in his full Scottish regalia and attempt to drum up business.
The brave pitch earned Douglas his first contract. Two years later he is providing world-class security services to clients in Central Africa and even war-torn Afghanistan.
The rapid rise to success led to Douglas being named entrepreneur of the year at last month’s WeDo Scotland awards.
Services delivered by Claymore range from providing armed guards to maritime security measures in high-risk areas of the Indian Ocean, such as the Somali Basin. Kidnap, ransom and hostage negotiation training is another highly specialised service on offer.
Douglas said: “It has been pretty fast and furious. I jumped on a plane to Singapore in my kilt with two tins of Walkers shortbread and just went knocking on doors. I think I had quite a good pitch and with my background as well, I was just honest and straight up.
“It was already quite a vibrant maritime market, but people in my opinion weren’t doing it right. In my first three months I turned over £600,000, so I must have got something right.”
Douglas, who is married with children, soon shifted into land-based security work. He started up Claymore Afghanistan this year.
He said: “I was told things were changing [in Afghanistan]. The companies that are in there now aren’t necessarily going to be operating this time next year, so it was a good opportunity.
“I’ve always done my business face to face. I’ve never shied away from anything. When I send guys in there, I know because I’ve been in there myself. I’m a big believer that if you do business abroad, you have to go and look the people in the eye.”
Douglas’ experience in business, operational and leadership roles stretches back more than 25 years. He started out in the military as a member of the Black Watch, with his experience growing to include close protection and maritime security.
Claymore Security Solutions has rapidly grown to employ 12 full-time staff and 120 contractors.
Douglas added: “Writers use pens, painters use paintbrushes. Our tools of the trade, we use guns. If you open up a high-street shop, for instance, you’ve got so many hoops that you have to jump through.
“I move weapons around the world. You can imagine the nightmares and everything I’ve had just trying to get the business going.”