Very simple, because you either need some fresh ideas or you want to test your existing plans with an objective second opinion. My goal is to give you the maximum value in the minimum time.
As a business consultant coming from an operational background, I offer very practical and pragmatic consulting. My approach is 'down-to-earth', I try to use a jargon-free vocabulary and avoid process-heavy methodologies. The scope, budget and timescale of each engagement is customised to your requirements.
Consulting case study 1 – Hydrogen and biomethane, renewable energy gases
Climate change is a reality that confronts our world. Decarbonisation of energy supply and industrial processes will be essential to mitigate the impact of carbon dioxide emissions to our atmosphere. Renewable energy gases, hydrogen and methane (from biogas upgrades and methanation) have roles to play in securing a sustainable future. Numerous clients have approached me to better understand the market opportunity for their products in these green-tech sectors. Financial sponsors and fund managers have sought my opinion on the most likely winners in this space to guide their investments. Consulting firms have also requested expert advice to support strategy studies that they have been engaged in. And, strategy teams within corporate majors have benefited from my expertise as they reflect on the opportunities and threats that hydrogen and other decarbonised energy gases may present to their business.
Thomas Heinrich, Managing Consultant at Nexant, April 2020:
"Stephen and I have been working together on a number of hydrogen projects. It has been a joy to exchange ideas with Stephen, given his excellent technical and market knowledge and collaborative approach."
Consulting case study 2 – CCS and GHG Emissions reduction
Greenhouse gas emissions reduction is a dominant theme at present and will be essential to meet the aspirations of The Paris Agreement on Climate Change. Carbon dioxide emissions can be reduced using carbon capture and utilisation or storage. With 30 years of processing, purifying and commercial utilisation of gases such as carbon dioxide, I have the experience to guide companies through the decarbonisation maze to find cost effective, or profitable mitigation strategies. With international expertise in the energy sector, gas analysis, gas monitoring and refrigerant gases, I can also advise on emissions control strategies for the other potent greenhouse gases: methane, nitrous oxide and F-Gases. Hydrogen was top of the renewable energy agenda in 2020, driven by the publication of many hydrogen strategies and financial stimulus. Based on the consulting projects that sbh4 has recently been engaged in, CCS and mitigation of other greenhouse gas emissions will soon join hydrogen in the green-tech spotlight.
Consulting case study 3 – M&A Advisory due diligence process support
With more than a dozen M&A transaction advisory engagements since 2017, I have significant M&A due diligence experience. These were a mixture of buy-side, sell-side, commercial, technical and EHS due diligence engagements. Prior to working as a consultant, I was responsible for integrating specialty gases businesses acquired from Airgas, Praxair, Air Products, Gaspro, AGA and BOC into The Linde Group. Having seen the M&A process from the outside and the inside and the preparations and the post M&A integration I have a very rounded and pragmatic view of the full M&A process and its associated synergies, opportunities and risks.
Paolo Farina, Consultant and Technical Gas Lead at Nexant, September 2020:
“Stephen was a fantastic project manager on a recent refrigerant gases M&A project we undertook. His direct and honest management philosophy was refreshing and certainly made a challenging project exciting and enjoyable”.
Consulting case study 4 – Medical Oxygen Supply Advice to a Covid-19 Task Force
During the Covid-19 crisis, medical oxygen demand increased by 3 to 10 times in various locations around the world within the space of one month. The supply chain challenges associated with this rapid ramp-up in demand were extreme. Field hospitals were being built within days to treat patients with respiratory illnesses and they all needed supplies of medical oxygen. The liquid oxygen supply mode, PSA / VSA oxygen supply, cylinder oxygen supply and portable oxygen concentrators could all be part of the solution. In support of a Covid-19 task force working on a pro-bono study to be used by national and international health agencies and governments, I advised on the medical oxygen supply chain. One priority issue was to identify global geo-regions where the supply of medical oxygen might need to be ramped up using flexible production techniques. A second key point was to identify potential bottlenecks in national supply chains. Thirdly, physical limitations of the existing oxygen distribution infrastructure within established hospitals must also be overcome. In each case, quick to implement mitigating actions to increase medical oxygen supply were proposed.
With a career spanning 27 years in the Industrial Gases business, working for BOC and Linde, I have an intimate knowledge of this industry. I was active in all major business areas: tonnage pipeline supply, bulk process gases and packaged cylinder gases. Over that time, I spent 15 years in global strategic leadership roles and was heavily involved in acquiring and integrating business from Air Products, Airgas, AGA, Gaspro, Matheson, Praxair and Spectra Gases. I have also worked closely with Air Liquide joint venture companies. So, I have an insight into almost every major industrial gases company operating in the global arena today. For 18 years I was involved in Specialty Gases commercial, business and supply chain roles at a national, regional and global level. In the Specialty Gases product group, my expertise is probably unparalleled in terms of breadth and depth of exposure. Many of my insights have been published in a diverse range of business and industry journals worldwide. I find this industry fascinating and I would love to share my enthusiasm for this sector with you. Please get in touch and we can discuss how I might consult for you on this dynamic topic.
Consulting case study 6 – Gas Cylinder and Valve Product Development
Competition is intense in industrial cylinder gases. Occasionally the gases and gas mixtures can be differentiated, but the most fiercely fought battle-ground for the past decade has been related to cylinder and valve package innovation. In support of the race to digitalise in this area, my consulting work has involved advising a digital start-up on the most appropriate commercialisation strategy for a pressure sensor combined with wireless communications and a software tool that will predict when gas cylinders need to be changed over. Considering the more traditional areas of gas package innovation, I have advised a regional gases company on the business benefits, commercialisation strategy and technical solution for an ultra-portable refillable cylinder product development. Valve and cylinder manufacturers have also sought my advice, including growth strategy development with workshop facilitation and market evaluations. Additionally, institutional investors and PE firms regularly seek my opinions on companies in this sector to support valuations and investment decisions.
Consulting case study 7 – Gas Analysis Instrumentation
Specialty gases are intimately connected with gas detectors and gas analysers ranging from FTIR instruments for environmental emissions monitoring to rapid-response GCs for process control. These instruments consume high purity gases and require high precision gas mixtures for occasional calibration events. With 16 years of experience working hands-on with specialty gases at BOC and Linde, I have deep and broad exposure to leading instrumentation OEMs and many kinds of gas analysis techniques. My experience also extends to the markets where these gas analysers are used and the legislation changes and industry dynamics that are driving the growth of several applications in this sector. This expertise has attracted major global instrumentation suppliers to seek my advice. On their behalf, I have undertaken market research for M&A activities. My consulting services have also been used to develop and execute marketing campaigns in this sector and develop sales training materials. I also frequently write journal articles on health, safety and environmental topics that rely on fixed and portable gas detection equipment. Furthermore, research analysts and investors regularly seek my opinion about various instrumentation OEMs to enable accurate valuations and guide their investment decisions.
Consulting case study 8 – Marketing Strategy and Project Execution
Much of our consulting at sbh4 is related to integrated marketing communications. Our product and market expertise in areas such as industrial, specialty and medical gases, hydrogen, refrigerants, gas analysers and gas detection has enabled us to support a wide range of clients. The idea is simple: to promote their product offer and achieve market growth. Our specialism is developing integrated sales and marketing campaigns. Your sales team will receive the information they need to scout for new customers and engage them with highly targeted messages. The tools that we can put in their hands range from traditional brochures to comprehensive web content. In support of the sales efforts, we offer management of digital marketing campaigns using the leading service providers in those fields and a comprehensive PR programme. Our team have extensive experience in operational roles in major international and German Mittelstand companies, so we have a good idea what you, as a business leadership or marketing team are looking for – we have spent many years in your shoes.
Consulting case study 9 – Business Strategy Development and Growth Planning
For much of my career at BOC Gases and Linde Gas, I was responsible for the Specialty Gases portfolio globally. This product group is seen as a major growth engine within the wider industrial and medical gases industry. Business development and planning for growth were permanently on the agenda. The skills that I learned are of direct relevance to industrial gases businesses that wish to grow in this area and transferrable to related industrial sectors where the markets were similar such as gas analysers and gas detection equipment. Since leaving Linde, I have supported several companies to plan and execute growth strategies through a process of market assessment and business development. The actions often focus around adjustments in the product ranges and strategic focus to exploit growth opportunities and have frequently been supported by internal training and external marketing communication programmes.
Client references available on request
We are proud of our work and client feedback. If you would like to review a client recommendation letter related to one of the above projects, please get in touch.
If you are confident that the best ideas already exist in your own mind, or in the people close to you, then coaching to convert that potential to profitable action might be appropriate. Coaching may also be suitable after an initial consulting engagement to ensure sustainable implementation.
30+ Hydrogen publications by the team at sbh4 consulting