Every week, we ask small businesses key questions. Here we speak to Colin Duncan, owner of Aberdeen firm CMD Coatings, a licensed supplier of Bullet Liner.
How and why did you start in business?
I was made redundant in May 2023. Thinking over my options, I quickly realised I wanted to work for myself so decided to give it a go.
At around the same time my good friend, Jason Millar, was working in Bahrain. For three years Jason had used an amazing (specialist coatings) product called Bullet Liner.
We instantly knew there would be a gap in the Aberdeen market for products like this so I bought the business, we packed everything up and moved it all to Aberdeen.
This was the birth of CMD Coatings. We now have a fully functioning auto body shop, with a ramp, and a mobile service for coating roofs and concrete works. It’s taken a few months to get everything prepared, but now I’m confident all our hard work is going to really pay off.
How did you get to where you are today?
It’s taken more time and hard work than I expected, and I’ve invested my own savings into the company to get things going. In these first few months Jason and I have done a lot of the work in-house to limit the cost of hiring in help.
I don’t think I’d be where I am today without the support of my dad, George Duncan, who still lives up in Banff. He’s a one-man sales team and definitely has the gift of the gab.
Who helped you?
Besides my dad, our advisor at Business Gateway Aberdeen City and Shire, Gordon Forbes, has been amazing. I’m so grateful for the free services he’s given us.
We’ve invested a lot in our business premises (in Bucksburn) and had the support of our landlord through the whole renovation process. I’ve recently joined the Federation of Small Businesses, and I know its membership benefits will save me a fortune as CMD Coatings develops and grows.
What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever had?
We all make mistakes. What matters is how we learn and grow afterwards. I’m sure I’ll make more mistakes in the future, but right now I’m ready and really excited to move the business onto the next level.
What is your biggest mistake?
I underestimated how hard it would be to get the business going, even with the great support we’ve had. It can be difficult to stay positive, especially when you’re worrying about everything that can go wrong, but I strongly feel that if you put in the effort and keep a level head, you can succeed.
What is your greatest achievement?
I’m proud of everything we’ve done in only a few months, but I think our greatest achievements are still to come.
I want my business to be part of the local community, employing local people and making a positive contribution. I want to support young people and help them into the world of work. When I’ve done all this I’ll know my business has achieved something important.
How are you managing rapidly rising costs and how could the government help
Although the business is self-funded, we did get some extra support from Aberdeen City Council. However, it would be great to see the extension of rates relief from one initial year of business to two or three years of discount. This would be a great help to companies trying to get off the ground.
What do you still hope to achieve?
It’s about that community contribution. If I can work with local schools and get young people interested in what I do, then I’m happy. We’re in prime position to really push the business forward next year, and although we’ve been working hard so far, the real hard work starts now.
What do you do to relax?
When I can, I relax on the golf course. I’ve even managed to sponsor some Connect Golf Network events.
What are you currently reading, listening to or glued to on TV?
I love watching football and proudly support my home team, Deveronvale, up in Banff. Unfortunately, they don’t play on the telly very often.
What do you waste your money on?
I buy some rubbish on eBay. Something will catch my eye and I’ll start another restoration project.
What’s the first thing you do when you get up in the morning?
Let the dogs out and then have a coffee.
What do you drive and dream of driving?
I’ve got a BMW X5 but my dream car is a Nissan GTR.