Lee Clements, 47, lives in Sleaford in Lincolnshire. Driven by a desire to travel and to serve his country, Lee joined the RAF in April 1989 and served 17 years as an Aeronautical Engineer. His career took in postings at Swinderby, Halton, Coningsby, Bruggen, Chivenor, Marham and Cranwell. When voluntary redundancies were sought by the MoD, Lee decided it was an opportunity to start a new career.
The electrical engineering training Lee had accrued in the Armed Forces was a strong grounding to build upon and Lee soon found himself in the energy industry, as a partner in a company that assessed Air Conditioning for large industrial and commercial units and identified energy-saving opportunities. In May 2018, Lee made the move to start his own business – still working closely with Cubic Apple – and began specialising in Commercial Energy Performance Certificates, trading as Lime Tree Path.
Lee described his post-military years:
“Leaving the RAF was an exciting yet daunting time. I knew I had transferable skills that employers would be looking for, but civilian working practises were very different to the excitement of aeroplanes and foreign assignments.
“When I began working with Brian Henney in 2010, to start Cubic Apple, I felt more at ease and my role in technical sales seemed to come naturally. I think it is true that ex-military personnel have a no-nonsense approach that works in their favour in business. I’m proud to say that we attained the trust and respect of some very big corporations such as BP, Co-Op, JCB and Care UK and worked on sites around the country to provide energy assessments.”
Lee approached X-Forces Enterprise (XFE) for assistance with his new business idea and was quickly assigned a business advisor in Anthony James-Smith who was able to advise on start-up cashflow and guide Lee through the application process for a Start Up Loan. Lee recognised the need for new equipment and tools to start Lime Tree Path, plus a website and marketing activities, to seek new customers. XFE’s mentoring programme, supported by TRBL, provided support for 12 months following the loan.
All commercial premises in the UK whether leased, rented, or owned outright, require a Commercial Energy Performance Certificate by law. Lee’s customer base for the business therefore includes offices, shops, industrial units, hotels, new build commercial units, rental properties, public institutions and government buildings.
“In Lime Tree Path, I wanted to be my own boss and carve a path for myself, building on my specialist knowledge and years of experience in assessing commercial buildings. I’m working in similar types of buildings, but taking a wider view of energy efficiency and providing the certificates that owners are obliged to hold.
“I have high standards. That is possibly something that derives from my military background, but it’s important to me to pay attention to detail and deliver a quality service.”
Lime Tree Path assesses a building to record how energy efficient it is and provide an energy rating of the building from A, most efficient, to G, least efficient. EPCs are produced using standard methods and assumptions about energy usage, so that the energy efficiency of one building can easily be compared with another building of the same type. This allows prospective buyers, tenants, owners, occupiers, and purchasers to see information on the energy efficiency and carbon emissions from their building, so that they can consider energy efficiency and fuel costs as part of their investment.
Lee described the start up planning period:
“It was the financial aspects that posed the challenge when starting up. I needed to invest in tools to do the job, not forgetting marketing to generate business, so it was important I projected my cashflow adequately to account for the early months when I was building the client base.
“I found that X-Forces Enterprise were really helpful in accessing the finance I needed. It was a simple process, and I’ve been reassured by having their support thereafter.”
When asked what he would tell himself, if he could go back to day one of starting out in business, Lee said he would say:
“You will never know what you can achieve if you don’t try, so work hard and follow the business plan.”
XFE Chairman Martin Wing commented on Lee’s entrepreneurial post-service career:
“Beyond the technical skills learned in service, veterans are extremely well equipped for business thanks to their work ethic, determination and can-do attitude. For Lee to have won both respect and contracts from huge international companies is testament to a quality-focused approached that was undoubtedly born in the Armed Forces. It gives me great pride to have assisted Lee to take his next step to go alone in business, and we remain by his side on this journey.”
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X-Forces Enterprise (XFE) is an award-winning Community Interest Company that nurtures entrepreneurial ambition in the UK military community, official delivery partner to the government’s Start Up Loans Company and MoD’s Career Transition Partnership. XFE supports Service leavers, veterans, spouses, cadets and Armed Forces family members to start their own businesses with a full package of training, finance, networking and mentoring. Start your journey by registering today here.
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