‘Start earlier, and don’t underrate yourself’, say New Wave Marine founders

Rob Bolton and Jason Parsons are co-directors and co-founders of New Wave Marine (NWM) Ltd, a company that provides high-quality waste management and industrial services to marine- and land-based businesses.

Since launching four-and-a-half years ago, NWM has become a specialist in cleaning confined spaces – areas that demand the use of cutting-edge breathing apparatus – and have developed innovative solutions to manage residues and wastes generated.

Today, the firm delivers its services to a wide range of organisations and institutions, including the Ministry of Defence, various universities, public sector facilities and a diversity of blue-chip infrastructure companies.

The achievements of New Wave Marine were recognised in Cardiff last November, when Jason Parsons was shortlisted in the Small Business Entrepreneur of the Year category at the Wales & the South West finals of the NatWest Great British Entrepreneur Awards.

We spoke with Jason and Rob recently to discuss their entrepreneurial journey and to learn more about the business challenges they have navigated throughout the growth of New Wave Marine.

What makes your company unique?

We are a relatively small business in an industry that delivers services to clients through large corporate institutions. We offer bespoke, adaptable solutions, where a change of procedure sometimes needs to be implemented quickly.

We offer customers a full spectrum of services that can often be high risk in terms of the conditions our highly-trained staff have to operate in; our customers can be confident that all operations undertaken by the business are done so safely and efficiently.

Did you always want to become an entrepreneur?

Yes, definitely. You need determination and a continuous desire to build, develop, learn from mistakes and progress; it’s in our nature, and not everybody has that intuitive desire to want to be successful.

When did you eventually decide that the entrepreneurial life was for you? 

We both worked for a number years as employees of medium-sized businesses at senior management level. This instils a desire to be the ‘boss’, so when an opportunity arises, you take it, and that’s how we started NWM.

Opportunities tend to come from adverse situations, and that’s when the character of an entrepreneur tends to shine through.

Where do you get your inspiration from?

Inspiration comes from a desire to be successful, and to build something that other people can benefit from. Often, we see a level of service being provided that does not seem to be quiet right. If we can offer a level of service that meets the expectations of our customers, and we get repeat business and good referrals, then that inspires and lifts the whole team.

What is the biggest challenge you have faced so far? How did you overcome it and what did the process teach you?

Starting from scratch is a massive challenge – being a very small fish in a big pond. We mitigated the issues of starting a small business by applying for funding through the Gain Growth Fund, and were fortunate enough to develop a business plan that was approved. In the end, we were able to access £90,000 of funding which helped to launch us into the industry, invest in equipment and expand quickly.

The other significant challenge has concerned our size and lack of qualifying criteria, which have been a disadvantage when tendering for larger framework contracts, especially in the utility sector, and the MOD. Again, we have managed to slowly get a number of important ISO accreditations, and have recently been accepted onto framework tender portals that open up opportunities significantly.

Can you describe a highlight of your entrepreneurial journey so far?

Recently we had a discussion and decided to move out of what is quite a restricting business park premises. We made the move to a much larger industrial space.

This is significant as we have been restricted, like a balloon in a box that can’t expand and has filled all the corners. This has been challenging, but the benefits will allow the business to develop into its next phase of growth.

Do you have any role models in business?

Personally, I have always admired any small business owner that has the spirit to drive their business forward. I admire local people that are not necessarily well known, or who hit the headlines. It’s easy to mention the big guys like Branson and Musk, even though they are exquisite examples of entrepreneurial flare and few will ever reach their level.

How would you describe your leadership style?

Considerate, and rational, and not always right. But I do try to give others free rein to develop ideas.

What makes a great business team?

Commitment, attention to detail, and good inter-team communication.

What piece of business advice would you give your younger self?

Start earlier, and don’t underrate yourself.