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Firm responding to power switch

123v aims to spark demand from solar structures

Robin and Jayne Marlin

Robin and Jayne Marlin: founders

A Scottish manufacturer is developing solar powered canopies in response to customers switching to electric vehicles and generating their own power.

123v, which makes car ports and glass verandas, has invested almost £250,000 in a 5000 sq ft headquarters in Tillicoultry, doubling its floor space to make way for new products.

The move also provides the family-run enterprise with room to expand as it looks to target overseas markets.

Set up by Robin and Jayne Marlin in 1997, the company has grown into an employer of 30 with a turnover of £1.8 million. 

Business Gateway Clackmannanshire is working with PolySolar to test 123v’s solar power canopies. Sales would help the firm break the £2m turnover mark next year.

Mr Marlin, chairman and technical director, said the business had grown by adapting and evolving its offering.

“With interest in electric cars and generating and storing your own electricity increasing, we’ve developed a solar powered door canopy and car port with tinted glass and in-built solar panels that will generate electricity.”

He said Business Gateway’s help has been “fundamental”, as its connections led tyo PolySolar which will now help gauge how much power these products can produce.

He said that linking with Scottish Enterprise’s innovation team led to R&D support that helped spread the risk.

“The next big thing they’ll help us with is widening our market share,” said Mr Marlin.

“Because we now have space to increase production, there is no reason why we can’t replicate what we have done in the UK in Spain, France and America where there is huge potential, particularly for our new solar powered products.” 

Alison Davidson, adviser at Business Gateway, said: “123v is a fantastic success story. The company was well established when it came to us for advice, but its management team recognised that our connections and support could help it move the business to the next level.”

Having started out in the 1980s as a double glazing salesman, Mr Marlin spotted a gap in the market to sell cantilever car ports to the Scottish market.

Initially setting up a small fibre glass factory in Coalsnaughton, he and his wife began to build the business. However, it wasn’t until Mr Marlin completed an HND in Civil and Structural Engineering at Falkirk College in 2001 that the business really took off.  

The company is also noting the change in customer ordering. 

“Over the past 10 years the biggest change has been how people buy from us. In 2001 online sales accounted for only 5% of our business, now they make up to 90%.”

The last decade has seen the firm invest over £500,000 with Google on pay per click ads and search engine optimisation.

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