Adapting to COVID-19
Several of Proterra’s hydro projects were put on hold and four of the company’s employees were placed on furlough, leaving Terry and Neil responsible for essential maintenance and servicing on existing projects. Lead times for the production of crucial components were severely affected too, as were delivery schedules. As a result of furlough, two employees left the business to pursue careers elsewhere. It was a challenging few months.
By summertime, Terry felt confident enough in the company’s future to employ a student through our Technology Placement Programme. “I spoke to HIE about our supplier database project, and they agreed to support it with a student placement, which was great. Our suppliers are now properly catalogued and categorised, which helps us with quality control and saves a huge amount of time”.
A few months post-lockdown Proterra is busier than ever, and all employees are back at work covering both the backlog of postponed projects and work that had been previously scheduled.“We had to keep our business alive”, says Terry. “I wasn’t going to roll over, so we’ve been heavily focused on keeping the engine of the company going. I’m very happy to have emerged - we took a hit, but we’ve recruited new people and we’re busy again”.
Looking to the future, Terry has big plans for HydroTrailer. He’s keen to get back the momentum they had started to build on Pathfinder and, while HydroTrailer is aimed at developing countries, Terry is passionate about the benefits of local renewable energy systems in on-grid countries like Scotland. “It’s all about storing energy and releasing it at the right time”, he says. “We want to take off-grid, on-grid, and help Scotland reach its climate change targets”.