Daniel Wormald is the founder and Managing Director of Lutra Marine Limited, operating within the UK and Europe. Lutra Marine Limited was formed in 2014 with the aim of developing environmentally friendly techniques and higher precision dredging for marine environments. Daniel’s company works in the marine sector to remove sediment and rock from the bottom of harbours, ports and other waterways. It also supplies equipment to the mining sector to remove kaolin from the bottom of china clay pits and pump the material to the refiner.
Daniel’s love of everything geology began at an early age, and the main reason he chose to apply to Truro School aged 11, was because geology was available (as well as the bonus of an on-site theatre). It didn’t disappoint. Truro School geology field trips took Daniel to many places including Masca, Tenerife, where he got to see an active volcano and the lava tubes. However, the most influential field trip on Daniels’s future career was closer to home…….
In 2012 Mr Kenyon (TS Geology Teacher), Mr Vanstone (TS Director of Studies), and Mrs Gill (TS 2007-17) took Daniel’s geology class to Godrevy as part of their A-Level studies fieldwork to study four different sediment types which are present there. This field trip was the spark which set Daniel on course to starting his own company.
“It always brings a smile when I recall that the company was essentially founded as a result of a school A-Level project to enhance my UCAS application.”
After the field trip, Daniel began to research marine dredging and discovered the many environmental issues facing the the industry. Using his dad’s old Meccano set and an old fish tank in the back garden at home, the very first model of what was to become Daniel’s prototype cutter head took shape.
Daniel’s other passion whilst at Truro School was the Burrell Theatre:
“I spent many happy hours as part of the technical team, working on school productions and musicals such as Oliver, Les Misérables, Sweeney Todd and the charity concerts. It was definitely these experiences that gave me the basic understanding of theatre which resulted in me working in theatre venues in London and Internationally. I also made great friends during that time including, Swen Kearey CO02 (Technical Resources Manager) and David Gibson (TS 2007-10).”
Truro School theatre and drama experiences led to Daniel starting his working life as a Technician at the Hall for Cornwall working on drama productions, and then in London as a Senior Technician and Production Electrician (lighting and video) for a UK and International tour of The Kite Runner.
This work enabled Daniel to continue and fund his research into the dredging industry.
It soon became clear to Daniel, that there was a real need for innovation so he continued to work on his prototype. Founding Lutra Marine in 2014, he focused on finding a way to develop his plans further. The ‘Grow Cornwall Scheme’ provided the help he needed in the early stages, and Oxford Innovation provided Daniel with a mentor and useful contacts to progress his plans. Daniel’s early prototypes were tested at Plymouth University COAST lab, before he filed the UK, US, Canadian and European patents whilst applying for investment to allow him to take the company to the next stage. Having secured investment from the British Design Fund Daniel was able to build a full-scale (4-tonne) prototype of his cutter head and test it at Hayle in the summer of 2019, going on to build the production units.
“There’s still something quite fun about climbing into a 21-tonne excavator with equipment attached which you designed and built.”
Daniel’s design ensures no sediment is released into the surrounding water during operation of the equipment. It also offers an extremely high level of precision (to within 5cm), avoiding obstacles such as subsea cables and mooring chains. The equipment can also be used against quay walls, under pontoons and above fragile surfaces.
Daniel’s company, Lutra Marine, has gone from strength to strength, and is still located (albeit in larger premises) at Victoria Business Park, St Austell, with clients across the UK. As Managing Director, Daniel handles everything from day-to-day operations, to sales and site visits, as well as ongoing research and development, and of course operating the equipment.
“Without doubt Truro School helped prepare me for all the different day-to-day roles that are so important for my company, from organisation of the daily operations, to having the confidence and ability to present to a boardroom of potential investors when seeking company funding. The CEO of the British Design Fund (BDF*) has indicated they wish to include me as an example in the marketing of their fund. I’m told this is because I was able to articulate my thoughts and present myself in a professional manner. I attribute this to Truro School and its emphasis on the importance of learning social and life skills, preparing its students for all manner of eventualities. Truro also teaches you to realise your own value and builds self-esteem.”
*BDF: The British Design Fund supports enterprise and innovation in the UK by investing in, and supporting, early stage, well designed, product businesses. The Fund works with extraordinary entrepreneurs with scalable products who are ready to accelerate growth and build long term value and thriving stand-out businesses.
“I am also very grateful for the early support I received from the staff at Truro School, particularly Mr Kenyon, Mr Vanstone and Mr Harrison (TS 1992- 2013) who helped drive my ambition. When I came back to work on one of the school productions, I was even permitted to use some of the equipment in the school to build the initial prototype, later tested at Plymouth University.”
As a young entrepreneur, Daniel offers some thoughts to anyone considering starting their own business:
“You have to be determined and don’t take ‘No’ for an answer, especially when it comes to age. I remember one of my first meetings with a potential investor; I was told that no-one would invest in me because of my age. I wasn’t put off and I continued to seek support and found the BDF, which looks for innovative products designed in Britain. After an early morning flight from Exeter to pitch my idea, they came back with an offer. Due to my determination, resolve and self-belief I found a match in BDF, who saw my age and enthusiasm as a positive rather than a negative. There will be the right match out there for you it just takes time to find it.
“Knowing what you want to do is the hard part. Take your time to work this out and follow the path that suits you, not what others tell you. I would say that university is not always the best option. I have been extremely lucky with the people I have met, and advice offered whilst developing the company. Never underestimate the power of networking.
Finding the right people to work with is hugely important. For me this was when my girlfriend, Jen, joined the company. We share the same work ethic, but each have our own completely different skill set, and so we complement each other. It’s also immensely important having someone who shares your vision and passion, a confidante and sounding board, someone to rant at or to just listen when things do not go to plan. However good you think you are, you cannot do it all alone and it’s also great to have someone to share the successes too.”
Daniel moved back to Cornwall to live in Falmouth with Jen. The couple met whilst working at a theatre in London during Panto season, and Jen joined Daniel at Lutra Marine in February 2020. Daniel’s parents and sisters still live in Cornwall, and Daniel and Jen enjoy visiting and taking the dogs for walks on the moors and beaches around Cornwall.
Lutra Marine is still a young growing company and occupies most of Daniel’s time, leaving little time for leisure activities, but the couple have recently bought a boat to explore the Cornish coast and wildlife. They have enjoyed sailing around Cornwall, the Isles of Scilly and plan to go further afield when COVID restrictions allow.
Daniel’s immediate plans are to grow Lutra Marine, firstly across the UK and then into Europe. He has already joined the Truro School Connected initiative and plans to give a Careers Talk to Sixth Form students in September.
“I would like to get to the point where I can give something back to the community that helped me so much to achieve my goals and ambitions, by perhaps offering work experience and placements to students at Truro School.”
If, like Daniel, you would like to join the Truro School Connected initiative, please complete make contact by completing the Truro School Connected Form.
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