When Mr Corbett joined forces with managing director Donnie Fraser to grow his Inverness plumbing and heating business, the idea to develop Korrie Renewables seemed like a natural step.
“The reason for moving into renewables was that Korrie had a very forward thinking business. We aren’t planning for today, we are planning for tomorrow,” says Mr Corbett.
“We had the core skills to satisfy and develop the renewables marketplace,” he says.
“Renewables needs electricians for solar photovoltaic, plumbers for the heat pumps and solar thermal, and heating engineers for the biomass plants.”
A group of the company’s workforce, now around 100, achieved certification for renewable energy systems and the company launched the specialist division two years ago.
The firm focuses on its specially designed biomass heating system, as well as providing ground and air source heating systems, solar photovoltaic panels, solar thermal technologies and carbon management systems.
Recent contracts have come from Gordonstoun School, Speyside High, Thurso High, West Highland College as well as Highland Folk Museum – and even Mr Corbett’s beloved Inverness Caledonian Thistle football club.
“Because of the Highlands rural communities, there are thousands that are not on the gas network. If you are off the network and want to get away from bottled gas, then you want to get into renewables,” he adds.
As group operations director, Mr Corbett expects the firm to reach a £1million turnover this year, and over £3million in the next three. This is in addition to the £10million the traditional Korrie plumbing and heating business makes in a year.
The firm has invested £350,000 in the Korrie Energy Park, which opens today and coincides with a two-day renewables exhibition at the Kingsmills Hotel, Inverness.
The event, which he expects will attract about 200, is meant to guide people through the “minefield” of green energy systems – as well as the government subsidies that encourage people to use them.
“We felt as a business if we could get a number of companies together, the public and the private sector could speak to these people direct.”
Both of the business partners met having worked for Tulloch Group’s former Corrie Plumbing and Heating division.
The business transferred to the acquisitive Rok which snapped up Tulloch’s construction division in a bold deal worth £30million in 2006. But the ill-fated Rok eventually collapsed in 2010 during the recession.
Mr Fraser had already parted ways with Rok to establish his Korrie with a ‘k’ plumbing and heating business when the larger firm fell into administration.
Mr Corbett then joined Mr Fraser as a director of the business, along with other Rok and former Corrie employees who joined the newly established Korrie.
“We felt the Korrie name was really strong up in the Highlands. We wanted to ensure the Korrie brand remained out there.”
Born and bred in Inverness, Mr Corbett is reluctant to push himself forward into the limelight – it is his partner Mr Fraser who usually prefers to do the talking, he says.
“You couldn’t find anyone further from doing this interview than I am. I like to keep low key,” says the engineer, who studied engineering at Inverness College.
“Donnie is stronger on the business side. But my strength is on the technical side. We definitely complement each other.”