The History of CTP – part 1

Founder and owner of Clifford Talbot Partnership, Steve Clifford, explains how the company got started.

Clifford Talbot Partnership was set up more than 37 years ago when Steve realised there was a gap in the market for an energy consultancy firm that provided clients with a more meaningful product than was already available. 

At that time Steve was living in the West Midlands and working for a small company based in Birmingham. His background was in engineering after doing a degree in Wolverhampton, which ultimately led him to working at several businesses within the energy industry. He was running a small team of engineers for the company but started showing expertise in another area. Sales wasn’t a strong point for the company but Steve started generating a lot of work for the company because of all the contacts he was making. The bosses were so impressed he was soon moved to a full time sales role, despite it not really being what he wanted.

“At the time you could count the number of consultancy firms on one hand, so the world was our oyster”.

During his time in this role Steve noticed the company was very good at producing energy reports for clients but they were often very long-winded and didn’t really get to the point. He was more focused on what their customers really wanted; what their costs were, how much they needed to spend and how they could make it more efficient. This is when he realised he could provide businesses with something different, and started thinking about the possibility of going out on his own.

In 1983 that idea started to get some traction as Steve reached out to a few people he knew could work together to turn his ideas into reality. He connected with two other people within the energy industry and set in motion an idea that would one day become CTP. They decided Steve would leave his job and work on this full time while the others stayed in their current jobs to fund their new venture. So in January 1984 at the age of 34, Steve handed in his notice. 

They started the business from nothing, Steve began working from home before moving to an office at his Dad’s business, and then finally getting his own premises in Wolverhampton in August 1984. It was tough at first, the jobs trickled in mostly through the contacts Steve had made over the years, until the hard work paid off when they got one big job and things started to progress from there. 

“There have definitely been hard times, we’ve had dry spells, I kept the company going through my contacts and word of mouth.”

The company focused on providing clear and precise energy saving surveys for all sorts of businesses from the private sector to public services, and at one time they had provided these surveys for almost all the courts in England and Wales. They’ve produced hundreds of surveys for the Ministry of Defence and was once one of three firms working to provide energy consultancy to the defence services. 

“At one time Clifford Talbot Partnership was the sole energy consultants for the Royal Navy.”

In the 90s the energy industry changed when electricity and natural gas was privatised, which meant the business had to learn to adapt. Steve and his partners started looking at contracts and billing instead of focusing on surveys. That meant the service they provided became more about managing billing as well as continuing with the consultancy work they already did. This opened up a lot more avenues for the business and things started going from strength to strength. As the work started rolling in they set up an office in Bristol, where one of the partners was based, and Steve continued to work from the West Midlands with an office in Wolverhampton.

“Working alongside big companies pushed us to work harder, smarter and adapt how we work with new clients. However, we have always continued to work with smaller businesses as well.”

This ability to cater to the needs of companies of all sizes has allowed them to provide a service that is bespoke and tailored to all the needs of their clients, regardless of the size of their business or the challenges faced.  

Over time things changed, the three men became two, Steve Clifford and Martin Talbot, and in 1991 Clifford Talbot Partnership was born. In March 2020 Steve became the sole owner of the business. We will be going in to more deal about this and explain how the business has developed over the last few years in ‘The History of CTP – part 2’ coming soon…

If you are a new customer looking for some information about the services we provide and how we can help manage your utility bills please don’t hesitate to send an email to [email protected] or ring us on 01630 685 144.

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Steve Clifford is Owner of Clifford Talbot Partnership which was formed in 1984 to provide solutions to energy and utility management issues in commerce, industry, government and the public sectors throughout the UK.