Biography of Scots Entrepreneur Willie Haughey


The Early Years

After leaving school at 15 with no qualifications, Scot entrepreneur Willie Haughey succeeded in building the biggest privately owned facilities management company in Europe with a turnover of over £400 million.

From a fledgling operation with just four employees in 1985, to a global giant employing 11,000 people, Glasgow-based entrepreneur Willie Haughey grew from a working-class Gorbals boy to the largest private employer in Scotland.

Delivering milk kept him in pocket money before the young Willie finally landing an apprenticeship with local firm Turner Refrigeration. After developing his engineering skills at Springburn College, Willie spent two and half years in Abu Dhabi, working on of lucrative air conditioning contracts for UTS Carrier (USA), in the oil-rich United Arab Emirates.

But Willie didn’t stop there – using his spare time to plan and establish contacts he laid the foundations for his own empire back home in Scotland.

With £70,000 of start-up capital and Willie’s life savings, City Refrigeration was born in 1985. The big idea – start a refrigeration company that specialised in installing and servicing cooling systems for the drinks industry.

Willie’s determination and an self-belief, finally led to a breakthrough contract with major brewers Tennent Caledonian and the beginning of the success story. Before long every major brewer in Scotland were onboard, and propelled City Refrigeration into the fast lane as one of the fastest-growing private companies in Europe.

City Refrigeration Expands

In 1996 William Haughey had a stroke of genius that transformed City from being a moderately successful refrigeration business into a hugely successful facilities management company, with clients worldwide.

Following successful maintenance contracts for supermarket giant Asda in Scotland and the North of England, City Refrigeration’s stellar performance resulted in having their contract rolled out to every Asda store in the whole of the UK.

Hot on their heels, several other major British companies such as House of Fraser, Waterstones and Ladbrokes now also appoint City, and with promising new opportunities opening up in the Middle East and Australia, plus longer-term plans to break into the US market, Willie confidently predicts that turnover will more than double over the next few years.