When he started Intrinsys Limited, his PLM (Product Lifecycle Management) software and support services business, at the end of the 1990s, Darren Cairns had the weight of 12 years’ experience in engine design behind him. His background allowed him to seize an opportunity that combined new design technologies with his extensive industry know-how.
Darren’s background is as a mechanical engineer. “I got involved in engine design and joined a company called Cosworth – famous for Formula One engine design. Cosworth was bought by Volkswagen-Audi and became part of the larger German parent company. Myself and three colleagues decided to leave and start Integral Powertrain, with the idea of designing and developing engines for the UK car industry.
“Intrinsys was a spin-off that came along during that journey.”
Darren and his partners started out working with Dassault Systèmes, a leading French PLM and design software company. Intrinsys sold and supported the deployment of Dassault’s CAD software. The business soon showed dynamic growth.
“I think the reason the company grew at such an extreme rate is that the market came to us,” Darren explains. “There were four other partners in the UK and we were number five. Over the years, that product has become much more complex, with a bigger portfolio of functionality.
“Other partners were primarily software-sales companies; we were an engineering consultancy that moved into supporting software, so, as the product became more complicated, it lent itself to our strengths.”
Darren quickly understood that the big challenge would be to maintain and build on that growth.
“This company is very much a people business,” he says. “We’ve been able to attract some people and keep them because of the continuous job development and career progression, and you can only keep doing that if you’re growing as a business.”