Calendar An icon of a desk calendar. Cancel An icon of a circle with a diagonal line across. Caret An icon of a block arrow pointing to the right. Email An icon of a paper envelope. Facebook An icon of the Facebook "f" mark. Google An icon of the Google "G" mark. Linked In An icon of the Linked In "in" mark. Logout An icon representing logout. Profile An icon that resembles human head and shoulders. Telephone An icon of a traditional telephone receiver. Tick An icon of a tick mark. Is Public An icon of a human eye and eyelashes. Is Not Public An icon of a human eye and eyelashes with a diagonal line through it. Pause Icon A two-lined pause icon for stopping interactions. Quote Mark A opening quote mark. Quote Mark A closing quote mark. Arrow An icon of an arrow. Folder An icon of a paper folder. Breaking An icon of an exclamation mark on a circular background. Camera An icon of a digital camera. Caret An icon of a caret arrow. Clock An icon of a clock face. Close An icon of the an X shape. Close Icon An icon used to represent where to interact to collapse or dismiss a component Comment An icon of a speech bubble. Comments An icon of a speech bubble, denoting user comments. Comments An icon of a speech bubble, denoting user comments. Ellipsis An icon of 3 horizontal dots. Envelope An icon of a paper envelope. Facebook An icon of a facebook f logo. Camera An icon of a digital camera. Home An icon of a house. Instagram An icon of the Instagram logo. LinkedIn An icon of the LinkedIn logo. Magnifying Glass An icon of a magnifying glass. Search Icon A magnifying glass icon that is used to represent the function of searching. Menu An icon of 3 horizontal lines. Hamburger Menu Icon An icon used to represent a collapsed menu. Next An icon of an arrow pointing to the right. Notice An explanation mark centred inside a circle. Previous An icon of an arrow pointing to the left. Rating An icon of a star. Tag An icon of a tag. Twitter An icon of the Twitter logo. Video Camera An icon of a video camera shape. Speech Bubble Icon A icon displaying a speech bubble WhatsApp An icon of the WhatsApp logo. Information An icon of an information logo. Plus A mathematical 'plus' symbol. Duration An icon indicating Time. Success Tick An icon of a green tick. Success Tick Timeout An icon of a greyed out success tick. Loading Spinner An icon of a loading spinner. Facebook Messenger An icon of the facebook messenger app logo. Facebook An icon of a facebook f logo. Facebook Messenger An icon of the Twitter app logo. LinkedIn An icon of the LinkedIn logo. WhatsApp Messenger An icon of the Whatsapp messenger app logo. Email An icon of an mail envelope. Copy link A decentered black square over a white square.

Nairn businessman took inspiration for Ethos from Aristotle

Graeme Clark also told us he always remembers dad's advice that 'nobody likes a smart alec'.

Graeme Clark, of Ethos Safety.
Graeme Clark, of Ethos Safety. Image: DCT Media

Every Monday, we ask small businesses key questions. Here we speak to Graeme Clark, managing director of Nairn firm Ethos Safety.

How and why did you start in business?

On leaving school I joined Inverness firm R Sutherland, on Abban Street, as an electrical apprentice. I moved on to the British Airports Authority and spent the next 15 years in a succession of roles in Aberdeen and later at Heathrow.

I then came back to Inverness, working for Highlands and Islands Airports before joining a local consultancy and then Health and Safety (, the whisky distillers at Glenfiddich.

Over the years I became increasingly frustrated at always having to accept compromise in the delivery of health and safety. And I craved more job satisfaction, so in February 2023 decided to go it alone and start Ethos Safety.

How did you get to where you are today?

By focusing on customers and quality. Ethos Safety is a Nairn-based, full-service health and safety consultancy serving customers across all sectors and all parts of the Highlands.

We provide health and safety, clerk of works, appointed person and a wide range of other services to a diverse mix of private and public contractors. Our consultants, all IOSH (Institution of Occupational Safety and Health) members, ensure our advice is tailored to clients’ specific needs and not merely generic.

It’s going really well and we’ve just moved into new premises at Brackley House, Gollanfield, Nairn, to allow us to expand our services to include vocational and plant training. We’ll be employing more staff in the process.

Graeme Clark at work on a job:
Graeme working on an Ethos project: Image: Graeme Clark

Who helped you?

I’m very grateful to Ian Young, who mentored me as an apprentice, allowing me to make the transition from someone who does what he’s told to a journeyman electrician who thinks for himself.

I was also greatly influenced by an organisational psychologist, Lizzie Beeby, when working at Heathrow. She taught me how people’s minds work and she’s a friend to this day.

Since starting out I’ve been greatly supported by Federation of Small Businesses Highland membership advisor Jim Aitken.

I’ve also received a lot of mentoring from Brian Innes, my landlord and close colleague. He’s always available to discuss ideas.

What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever had?

My dear departed father always said nobody likes a smart alec. The memory of that stops me straying into “I told you so” mode.

What is your biggest mistake?

Not spending enough time with people. My dad’s death when I was living and working away really brought home to me how important it is.

What is your greatest achievement?

Working in Afghanistan as a private security contractor in 2014, I did all I could to help my Afghan colleagues. Many of them were desperately struggling with day-to-day life.

I got a huge sense of achievement from helping them, and understanding that small things matter when they are delivered with feeling.

Graeme during his time in Afghanistan.
Graeme during his time in Afghanistan. Image: Graeme Clark

How is your business managing rapidly rising costs and what should government do to help?

We are extremely frugal and control all expenditure tightly. Monthly management accounts ensure nothing becomes unsustainable.

Government should stop taxing turnover, an outdated, draconian system that hampers entrepreneurship by penalising business owners, especially those struggling to make profits in the early stages.

What do you still hope to achieve?

To help more people by offering employment mentoring that really supports their personal development.

Someone once told me they got more satisfaction seeing another person succeed than they ever got from their own success. My mindset has gone the same way.

My business is called Ethos because it represents one of Aristotle’s modes of persuasion. Given we get noticed in our field and trade for reputation, it was an ideal choice.

What do you do to relax?

I play a bit of guitar and enjoy my smallholding. There’s always a list of jobs to be done, usually involve machinery, tools and a boilersuit. It’s a great way of winding down.

What are you currently reading, listening to or glued to on TV?

I’m obsessed with the Formula 1: Drive to Survive series on Netflix. The dynamics and behind-the-scenes action make it unmissable.

What do you waste your money on?

You can never have too many motorbikes, though some misguided folk miss the point and argue that you can only ride one at a time.

Graeme on one of his motorcycles.
Graeme on one of his motorcycles. Image: Graeme Clark

What’s the first thing you do when you get up in the morning?

Enjoy my coffee ritual. I grind the beans, make the coffee and drink it while planning my day.

What do you drive and dream of driving?

I use a double-cab pickup and small van for work, but my motorbike is perfect for getting around and I love taking it on business trips to the west coast. I dream of buying the biggest tractor out there – a lottery win would see me heading straight to a Fendt (agricultural machinery) dealer.