We’re celebrating ten years of MeeMaken. How? By featuring one of the thirteen MeeMaken companies every month. This time, we’re speaking with Glen Aitken, President of LiftWerx, about the key term: Courage. “We never doubted ourselves. Failure wasn’t an option!”
Our vision and can-do mentality give us the courage to do what no-one else has done before
We’re talking about the key term ‘Courage’. Is that applicable to LiftWerx?
“It fits very well’, says Glen. ‘We might be a small company, but we have plenty of courage. We perform large corrective repairs on wind turbines using crane-less technology, and we are fortunate to be the first company in the western world to solely offer this type of specialized service. When we perform a repair on a wind turbine, unlike most other wind energy contractors, we avoid the use of large traditional cranes. With our crane-less technology, large mobile cranes are no longer necessary for these types of wind turbine repairs. Our technology significantly reduces mobilization costs, stability accidents, weather delays, and road improvements which are normally associated with large mobile cranes,” says Glen. “And as this is a disruptive technology, it required plenty of courage, determination, vision, and teamwork to develop, refine, and bring this new service to the wind energy market.”
“We never doubted ourselves. Failure wasn’t an option!"
What made you brave enough to venture into this?
Glen starts: “A few years ago, a customer asked me a very intriguing question. After being frustrated with the high costs and inconvenience of contracting large cranes at his wind farm, he asked me, ‘Can’t you figure out a way to replace a wind turbine gearbox repairs without using a big crane?’ I found this simple question to be very inspiring. On an airplane napkin, he drew me a sketch of a small lifting device mounted atop a wind turbine nacelle. Before too long, this sketch became a vision, and shortly thereafter, we started LiftWerx, together with Natasja and Roderik from MeeMaken.
When we started, we immediately took it upon ourselves to foster collaboration with several MeeMaken companies, starting with Eager.one, and then later, with KenzFigee, Alltec, and BeOne Development. This not only strengthened our own small organization, but it also provided an easy gateway to talented people and more expertise. Having the strength of a larger group behind us, this provided us with the courage necessary to challenge the status quo, and to find better and safer ways to perform complex repairs. Things didn’t always go smoothly, and quite frankly, it’s been a huge amount of work. But from the start, we never doubted ourselves,” says Glen. “Failure wasn’t an option!”
How does MeeMaken help you demonstrate courage?
“We have a lot of confidence in the people within the MeeMaken group. I’m Canadian”, says Glen, “but I’ve been working with companies in the Netherlands for over 25 years, and I really admire the mentality of Dutch people. Not only are they strong with technology, but they also strive for progress and growth, and they have worldly vision which extends far beyond the borders of their own country. Looking back, we have invested millions of euros and years of our lives into something that started with a simple idea. The financial support from MeeMaken, the knowledge within the companies, and the progressive Dutch mentality really helped us to gather the courage necessary to succeed as startup. And it has paid off: today we have one hundred employees, we have a great track record, and every day, we receive inquiries from all over the world. Currently, we’ve decided to focus on the wind energy markets in North America and Europe, as we’d rather keep focus in a smaller region, and ensure that we offer superior quality before expanding the company further.”
What are your plans for the future?
“In the short term, we’ll continue to evolve in our existing core markets”, says Glen. “There is plenty of room for growth. In North America, we are already performing around 10% of all onshore gearbox exchanges, but there is so much more that we can do. And looking to the future, we are continuing to develop our technology for the larger and heavier wind turbines that are currently being installed by the Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEM) companies. Looking ahead to the longer term, we will also place more focus on offshore wind turbines, an exciting growth market which has enormous potential. Our technology is fully adaptable from onshore to offshore, and we have already commenced our first exchanges on offshore wind turbines up to 10MW in size. As the number of wind farms continues to increase, the demand for our work will keep growing. In any case, our service is ready for the future!”