About the founder:
Mr Eric R Hawkins the founder and sole shareholder of Solar Speedflex Co Ltd (HK) also trading under the name Thermaltricity International started as a one man business at the age of 27 yrs old in a place called Bournemouth, Dorset, UK.
Today and entrepreneur with 12 starts ups established over the past 43 yrs including the current business of Solar Speedflex Co Ltd.
Stepping Back to how my life began:
Over the years since first entering work at the age of 15 after leaving school in Norwich, Norfolk with a basic education I soon became interested in becoming a success with my first job as a Commis Chef. My twelve years training to be a top Chef from a Commis chef, is what has made me the person I am today.
From my first business as a greengrocer to building a plumbing/heating to owning a luxery bathroom/kitchen-sales and installation company to property refurbishment up until 1990, is where many of my skills were gained from.
In 1990 all that experience was used in developing a business that focused on energy and water saving technologies, including the design of the world first Multifuel hot water tank (now known as a Thermal Store), followed by a solar thermal pre heat evacuated tube/heat pipe collector.
Five years spent in Cyprus (1993-1998) is where I learned all about the many failures in both the building of houses and solar water heating manufacturing & installations.
Returning to the UK in 1998 as the UK agent for SUNDA (a JV between Sunpo (Beijing) & Daimler Benz Aerospace GmbH (Germany) was the beginning of a 12 yr investment into establishing the Global Warming Solution centre which expanded into Powertech Solar Ltd, followed Jayhawk International Ltd and Jayhawk Suntech Solar Co Ltd China.
In 2000, an e-mail from a young Australian working for an Internet sales company in Nanjing China contacted me to ask if I would be interested in forming a solar water heating partnership.
Having already visited China many times before, and was due to attend the Canton fair in Guangzhou in 2001 I agreed to meet up. The meeting led to the establishment of Focus Technology Co Ltd followed by brand APRICUS from 2002/3.
(The full story can be found through the link below)
In 2007, I formed a new JV with a business person located in Beijing to develop my own NEW brand of and evacuated tube heat pipe collectors through the partnering with (Tai’an Tongxin Solar Technology Co., Ltd) under the name Jayhawk Suntech Solar International Co Ltd.
In April 2009, due to the greed and corrupt banking industry followed by a worldwide recession (that destroyed hundreds of thousands of small/medium business enterprises), I took the painful decision to place the UK Powertech business into administration and saying good by to a great team of 7 people I have taken on and shared all my knowledge with. It was hoped that a buyer could be found to continue the business that was supplying over 120 smaller solar energy sales and installation businesses across the UK.
That was not to be, so after being contacted by another Chinese solar water heating company in Haining who were seeking to develop an insulated flexible plumbing pipe system for their solar water heating buyers. December 2010 was the beginning of my 4th business venture in China, which is another story for later on, as I make new plans for 2018 and beyond.
I am also a consultant for Green Solutions Las Vegas, USA with an office in Shanghai as I look to return one day back to the USA to continue exporting solar related technologies where I left off in 2009.
I was born in Norwich, Norfolk, UK in 1947. My mother was from 3 generations of farmers and died when I was 23. My father a coal minerbefore he signed up to the 2nd world war, then the Korean War and Palestine died alone at the age of 85yrs old. His eleven medals awarded for gallantry are now with my Brother to be left to his two children.
left school with a basic education at the age of 15, signing up to a 5
yr apprentership as a Commis Chef in a well established resturant in
Norwich. This was the 1
st decision of my long life, not knowing where the future would take me.
20 yrs of age I was working in a Swiss Hotel in Lausanne, followed by a
hotel in Verbia (Ski resort) and back to Lausanne for the summer
season. After 2 yrs in Switzerland, returning to the UK to find a job, I
was recommended by the hotel chain manager I applied for a head chef
position to except a Head Chef job in a NEW hotel in Gibraltar named
This led to meeting to becoming a partner in a hotel/restaurant in Marbella, Spain the following year. This was to become my 1st 50/50 partnership which ended up with me returning to the UK in my sports car losing all my money.
returning to the UK in 1970, I soon secured a new head chef position in
a restaurant in central Norwich. Two years on I was a director of a
food retail company, but after 2 yrs I returned to being head chef at
the Grovefield Hotel in Bournemouth, Dorset until the age of 27.
It was at this time I decided to go self employed and opened the first of 3 greengrocer/grocery shops offering many fruit & vegetables unknown to most people at that time along with educating people about the best way to prepare and cook these new veg and fruit.
the sale 2 yrs later, I purchased my first house which needed renovating , which is how I educated myself in all aspects
of the building industry learning from professional trades
people I had no option but to employ.
After a year building a plumbing/heating business, I open a luxury bathroom and kitchen showroom named Bathrooms of Bournemouth which included a property repair/refurbishment business. This along with £1 million in property assets was later sold off in the recession of 1990/91.
It was at this time I moved into the field of water and energy saving technologies.
A new business was established in Bournemouth (Quality Services Ltd) offering the first of many NEW products, one of which I designed and patented was a luxury off set stone shower tray with a up market glass shower enclosure to complete the package. This was followed by a Multi Fuel Thermal Store hot water cylinder and a solar collector.
My following research in solar water heating collectors as a cold water pre-heat to improve the efficiency of my Thermal Store design resulted in the use of heat pipe tube collectors to provide day time space heating suppor.
In 1993 after a number of business trips to Cyprus after a short holiday on this island, I decided to partner with a British jobbing plumber married to a Cypriot which was followed by the shipping of a 40ft container of bathroom/plumbing, insulation, my solar collector and a batch water heater from Japan and a wide range of energy/water saving products. I had planned to be there for 6 weeks, but ended up at 5 yrs when being a foreign businessman in Cyprus was Illegal.
My 5 yrs in Cyprus, taught me much of what I know today regarding all the many failures of solar water heating systems being sold and installed today across the world, which also included the importing of evacuated tube collectors from Japan followed by tubes from China.
Towards the end of 1998, after opening a showroom in what is now the Cyprus stock exchange in Nicosia my new partners invested in a factory in Larnaca where the imported tube from China and my own solar water tanks were manufacture which were exported to a company in Malta as well as to local developers before being exported to the UK in 1999.
After agreeing to a business offer from a British businessman in 1998 who visited me in Cyprus, I returned to the UK knowing I had left the hot water tank and solar collector business in good hands, allowing me to return to Cyprus as and when, which was my plan at the start in 1994.
in Cyprus I was testing both flat plates, heat pipe tube and batch
water heating collectors through the summer hot sun and cold winters
over the 5 yrs. On my return to the UK I was appointed the UK agent for
SUNDA (a Daimler Benze Aerospace JV, with SUNPO, China) having set up
"The Global Warming Solutions Centre" in Dorset, UK in 1999.
After opening the Global warming solution
centre on my return to the UK from Cyprus with the SUNDA agency now
earning the new business $70,000 a year in commission, I began importing
products from Cyprus including my own thermal stores.
I made my first visit to China in 1999 due to my relationship with SUNDA in Beijing until 2001. It was at this time and problems with the SUNDA tube collectors that I started to look for another manufacture, first in Austria (Greenonetec) and then back to China by visiting the Canton Fair in Guangzhou.
It was during my 2nd visit to this now well known Canton fair in October 2000 that I had my first meeting with a young Australian named Mick Humphries who had seen my web site and all the experience I had gained in the solar water heating industry since 1991. (full story to be uploaded in the link in November 2017)
In 2004 with an investment of £100,000 by Good Energy Ltd (A private utility provider) I took the decision to move into a warehouse larger warehouse that could except a 40ft container. The name was changed to Powertech Solar Ltd in the year 2000
From my return to the UK after 5 yrs in Cyprus, I grew solar energy related sales from £200.00 a week (Global Warming Solutions centre) to £1.2 million by April 2009, which included UK wide sales, the sale of 20ft containers of the Apricus brand direct to signed up county distributors, exports into Europe from the Southern based warehouse.
And from Focus Technology China, I was arranging container exports into the USA, Ireland and Sth Africa, as the appointed UK, EU and USA Apricus business partner.
It was through my own costs and signing up to exhibitions across the USA and Sth Africa as well as the UK that I secured around $500,000 of exports by 2009.
The banking crises and recession of 2007/8 brought to an end both the UK import/distribution business as well as the China manufacturing, export business at a very high cost to me, my loyal 7 UK staff and my investors.
In 2010, a new chapter in my life began as I returned to China with very limited finances to start a new business again but this time with no UK business overheads to worry about.
What I have come to learn over the years, is you never stop learning about life and what is acheivable in life.
If you want to suceed in business without a degree, you must put the work in and take calulated risks as I did.
What happens next in this new world of globalisation nobody knows which is the exciting part of working for yourself, which is another story for another day
Unlike today where 95% of pictures taken are from a smart phone or a digital camera, in my early days of life, you had a camera with a film that you paid to be processed into prints.
Picture one and two relates to my early days as a commis chef, first in the UK and then in Switzerland. The Swiss kitchen was made up of Italian, dutch, French and me.
The 2nd picture was about my opening of a greengrocer business in bournemouth area, featured in a local news paper when in the year of 2006, the UK suffered from a drought, this reducing the size of vegtables grown.
The last picture is me again featured in a local paper after returning from Cyprus and haveing purchased a new house that would be become my test house for all my off grid energy/water saving technologies.
Owning your own business, as I have done since 1975 with still much more to achieve as long as you are the key decision maker, even if you employ a team of people. Depending on your business model, any owner business can find buyers for your products and services as do the Chinese by useing exhibitions to attract overseas as well as local buyers.
For me, since I made the decision at the age of 20 yrs old to except a job offer of a hotel owner in Lausanne, Switzerland I have never looked back as it opens up a world of travel, food and cultures to further advance your experience and knowledge.
Many of my early overseas travels outside a holiday started when I owned Bathrooms of Bournemouth located outside of Bournemouth, Dorset.
Many of the 45 tiled displays were imported as well as buying British.
My Jayhawk sealine fly bridge motor cruiser allowed me to close sales with wealthy property owners.
One of my more riskeria decisions was in 1993, after holidaying in Cyprus and deciding to establish a business on this Island after a further 2 visits followed by the exporting of a 40ft container of many British made products from the plumbing, heating and bathroom industry as well as a few of my own designs
The DTI (Department of Trade and Industry) I also have to thank for including me in overseas visits from Sth Africa to Las Vegas. Always in business, you have to take a break, and my yearly break as always to book a Ski Holiday having learned to Ski in Verbia as a chef.
On returning to the UK in 1998 after 5 years in Cyprus, I rented a small shop to establish a new business named the Global Warming Solution Centre.
But two shops down was this wasted ground over grown, so I rented a 2nd shop to sell electric bikes and scooters from, to have access to this peice of land.
This was the start of returning to the growing of vegtables, soft fruit and flowers as I grew up with farming in my blood on my mothers side.
My early days back in the UK, was to demonstrate and show case fully working solar water heating and solar electricity genration off grid in the British weather.
The small show room with the flat roof for my many working displays with the battery storage and thermal store in the back of the shop, attracted a lot of interest, including an Architec from London, who after visiting the centre, recomended me to supply a NEW prodject in Doncastor called the Earth Centre.
The £25,000 sale included SUNDA tube collectors from China, flat plate panels from Israel, PV panels from Italy and a vertical wind axis turbine from Finand.
I was always happy to service any British familiy who wanted to use my solar systems for there new aquired homes in France, Portugal and Spain, as a good excuse to get away.
This house was purchased from NEW in 1999, because of the large south east facing roof area with managed gardens, which I added too outside my house
I try to make sure throughout the year, we have flowers growing in the planters, while adding hanging baskets for the summer months.
With the shop garden and
poly tunnel all gone, the Global warming solution centre and electric
bike shop disposed of and the move into a large warehouse, then the loss of
Powertech Solar Ltd in April 2009, I now spend what spare time in my smaller
garden at the rear of my Dorset house. It's enough for me to
maintain while much of my time is taken up building developing this new
business venture since registering the business in 2012.
Every year I dig out the old soil in the
planters and re fill with horse manure and then new sieved soil from the rear
of the house
Making the most of a small garden takes a lot of hard work, which started in early 2015 having not changed any of the plants and fruit trees I planted in 2000.
It was time to dig out the soil to a 400mm depth, disposing of any roots from past plants or nearby trees and replacing the rotten wooden edging.
I then dug in lots of horse manure I pick up from a local farmer who owns horses and it’s free. I also place Horse manure in the bottom of all my hanging baskets and pots that I later grow both flower and tomatoes/herb plants in.
With much of the hard work completed, with most of the spoil replaced over the horse manure, I dig in some bought in compost along with bags of leaf mould I take from my local forest which adds further to the soils nutrients.
It’s very difficult to grow anything between fruit trees, because the roots suck in all the nutrients from the horse manure as well as the water you hose onto the soil in during weeks of less rain.
So this year in 2017 I placed grow bags in between the fruit trees and placed dwarf beans into the grow bags with a 70% success.
When I purchased the house in 1999, I installed a large 1.5 ton water tank, placed behind my garden shed with a water butt at the front and back of the house to collect the water from the roof through a diverter valve.
Each water butt is installed with a Submersible pump and a float, which pumps the water into the main tank when the water butt reaches a certain level. More on Rain Water harvesting later on.
Growing vegetables through summer from seed, to picking strawberries and raspberries even in late October is just awesome. All the pears, plums and apples have already harvested and stored or prepared for freezing for use over the next few months in puddings and pies.
With winter around the corner, flower bulbs all planted having re-dug the soil and dug in rotted horse manure, my time in the garden is becoming less as winter is just around the corner along with rainy cold wet days ahead.
The 1st love of my life after gardening is cooking, which has been a major part of my life over the years.
It’s my view that every person being educated at a school today, should learns the basics of cooking at least 12 types of food dishes as a matter of survival. Knowing how to cook the wide range of edible ingredients the world producers today can save a family a fortune compared to buying readymade meals off the shelf or ordering a take away.
I am often asked, how did you manage to switch from becoming a professional Chef to starting a business in plumbing and heating to renewable energy today? (The answer is like shopping for ingredients and knowing that you do not serve mint sauce with roast Chicken is no different between me going shopping for materials to develop a solar collector or a hot water tank, as they both require a mix of ingredients/materials as well as knowing what works with what parts)
I will be adding a few of my favourite dishes to this page in weeks to come