Agrivert's Alexander Maddan moves from Chief Executive to Chairman

On 31 December 2022, Alexander moves over as Agrivert’s Chief Executive after 30 years in the post. He will hand over to Phil Earl, currently Agrivert’s CFO and will become the group’s Chairman.

Agrivert's Alexander Maddan moves from Chief Executive to Chairman

Alexander founded Agrivert in 1992 after leaving the Army. Originally the business was an agricultural contractor supplying spreading and recycling services to the waste water sector. Alexander had identified that many spreading practices were well behind those in other European nations and purchased a fleet of low-ground pressure spreading equipment with precision spreading abilities to differentiate Agrivert from the competition. This proved an attractive proposition for the waste water sector, and Agrivert was soon spreading 25% of the UK’s sewage cake and working for almost every water utility company in the UK.

It was whilst working for the sector that Alexander realised that much of the sludge he was recycling was of poor quality and expensively produced. Not trained as an engineer but uniquely practical, Alexander set about designing sludge treatment and storage systems focused on producing higher quality cake in a more cost-effective way and managed to sell his solutions to a number of water companies.

In 2004, as emerging legislation evolved, Alexander took Agrivert into the composting sector, building some of the first in-vessel composting and open windrow plants in the UK. Indeed, Agrivert was the first company in the UK to hold both ABPR and PAS100 certifications simultaneously.

By 2007, the market had moved again, opening up the opportunity for food waste anaerobic digestion (AD) in the UK. Having won a number of local authority contracts, Agrivert’s aspirations to build out AD plants was stalled by the 2008 financial crash, and it was not until 2010 that funding was secured and that Cassington, Agrivert’s first AD plant, was commissioned. Whilst waiting for finance, Alexander and his team designed and redesigned his AD plant relentlessly until he was confident his design was optimised. This model formed the basis of a design that was then rolled out across the UK on other plants. It is a testament to Alexander’s insight that this fleet performed consistently at over 98% output when the national output from the UK fleet of AD plants averaged just 82%.

In 2018, Agrivert’s operating assets were acquired by Severn Trent Green Power after an unsolicited approach. The deal was seen as a positive development for both companies and set the benchmark for future M&A in the sector going forward.

With Agrivert reduced to just seven staff after the sale, it would have been easy for Alexander to retire to his farm at this point, but he was not done yet. With his remaining team and working with joint venture partners, he successfully won one of the most prestigious contracts let in the AD world – to design, build and operate a 300-tonne per day food waste AD plant in Hong Kong for the Hong Kong Government. In early 2019, Agrivert was back in UK AD, taking on a number of plants to operate and upgrade.

With Agrivert now rebased to supply services to design, build and operate organic waste and energy plants in the UK and abroad, Alexander has decided to hand over the daily running of the company to Phil Earl, who has been Agrivert’s CFO for nearly eight years. But, in Alexander’s words, ‘I am going nowhere’ - he will continue to work at Agrivert as Chairman, focusing on product development, corporate relationships and new business.

As he hands over, Alexander notes, ‘I have been incredibly privileged to lead a team, albeit changed over the years, who grabbed the moment and forged our place in the waste and renewables industry. It is to that ethos, and those team players, that I extend my gratitude whilst thanking those that placed their faith in us. Agrivert is in great shape to take on the next bound under Phil’s leadership, and I shall thoroughly enjoy supporting it in my new role.’

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