The businessman spent 13 years working in the oil industry before a career change saw him swap life offshore for a future focused on a pipeline of pods.
In 2019, in tandem with business partner Calum MacLeod, Alisdair set up Glampitect, a specialist consultancy which designs luxury glamping sites.
With the pandemic producing a new breed of holidaymakers intent on enjoying a staycation, the Edinburgh-based firm has grown rapidly, quickly establishing itself as the UK’s market leader in its field.
Staffing numbers have soared to meet demand, with hundreds of ongoing projects across the length and breadth of the UK. In March, 2021, the firm expanded into Dubai, the move the first phase of a planned international roll-out in the coming years.
It’s all a far cry from when the pair began their glamping journey with the formation of NC500 Pods in Achmelvich, Sutherland, the experimental venture proving the catalyst for Glampitect, as Alisdair explained.
“Calum’s cousin and I were best mates from school in Edinburgh and I visited Achmelvich regularly with him,” said Alisdair.
“I met my wife there so have strong family and friendship ties to that area. I always wanted to buy some land there but never had the opportunity. We were camping most of the time in tents but I was basically getting too old for that!
“When I heard Calum had some family land with planning permission for some pods I wanted to be involved. I suppose there was a degree of selfishness as I wanted some place nice and comfortable to go to so the plan was to help Calum finance a pod which I could visit for the next few years for holidays.
“It became evident that from a business perspective, it made sense to get more heavily involved so I provided most of the funding for the site and Calum did the rest from pre-planning through to the planning application.
“Calum then had the idea of Glampitect. I could see the role I was in was coming to an end in the oil industry and so the timings were ideal for me.”
When Premier Oil made it clear his contract wasn’t going to be renewed, Alisdair, who had also worked for Petrofac and the Wood Group, feared the worst, particularly with his first child on the way.
“I had been hoping it would continue for another year or so but I was told that wasn’t going to be the case. I was effectively made redundant in the autumn of 2019, which was a blow at the time as I had been working for them since 2012,” he said.
“Lockdown saw me come home early from the rigs and I never went back off shore again. A week after I returned, my son was born so it was a complete life-changing moment for me over the course of a week or two.
“Calum had already quit his job as an electrical engineer. The thought process was with it being a new business we would get him in the door and see how things went for a few months. The plan was then for me to link up with him when my oil contract finished but obviously that plan had to be brought forward when I was made redundant.”
Highly regarded across the UK as experts in their field, the firm reported its first £1million turnover last year, however Covid almost put paid to Glampitect before it even got off the ground.
“We almost didn’t make it due to Covid,” said Alisdair. “We had a little office in Edinburgh costing us £400 a month, didn’t have much work and the clients we did have weren’t able to pay us so we were really struggling to meet our bills.
“We explained our cash flow problems to the landlord and asked if they could help us out. They said they would give us two weeks’ grace then change the locks! Luckily, we were able to just scrape by and have been OK since. We were worried as nobody really knew what Covid was and what the impact would be.
“We came close to closing the doors before we even got going but here we are with plenty happening and lots of exciting projects in the pipeline. It’s funny how life works out sometimes.”