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. At sbh4, we work at high velocity: fast and in the right direction.
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 – M&A and Investment Due Diligence
I have conducted more than 30 M&A and investment due diligence engagements since 2017. These were a mixture of buy-side, sell-side, commercial, technical and EHS assignments. 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. In 2022 I was engaged by an investor to complete a buy-side technical and EHS due diligence of a green-field site integrated hydrogen, ammonia, CO2, helium, F-gases, specialty gases and industrial gases facility.
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”.
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 and competed with Messer, Matheson Tri Gas and countless others. 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.
The pace of innovation is intense in compressed gas cylinders for hydrogen, industrial gases, and fuel gases. The expansion of the hydrogen economy has pulled for carbon fibre type 4 composite cylinders for static storage, on-board storage, and hydrogen distribution. Type 1, 2 and 3 cylinders have also enjoyed a period of growth and glass fibre wrapped type 2 cylinders and type 4 cylinders are cost effective alternatives to carbon fibre for HRS and hydrogen distribution applications. I have advised a regional gases company on the business benefits, commercialisation strategy and technical solutions for 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 4 – Gas Analysis Instrumentation
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 5 – Industrial Process Decarbonisation
Increasingly, businesses are coming to sbh4 to support their decarbonisation strategy. In Europe, each M&A transaction must be accompanied by an ESG due diligence. So, companies in PE ownership are keen to demonstrate that they have a robust decarbonisation action plan and are making progress towards it. They know that achieving a good valuation multiple depends on their proven pathway to decarbonisation. Our role ranges from decarbonisation equipment technology selection to budgetary cost estimates for the required transition to finding sources and suppliers for carbon-neutral energy vectors. Business operations in emerging markets are also motivated to decarbonise due to pressure from international customers and the desire from privately owned businesses to simply “do the right thing”.
Consulting Case Study 6 – 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 that will increase their exposure to the hydrogen economy and decarbonisation in general. The process generally follows a route of situational analysis, market assessment and business development. The actions often focus around adjustments in the product ranges and strategic focus to exploit growth opportunities. The internal product and process changes 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.