Mike Racz and Laura Hepburn join forces to take recycling firm to the next level

Tees Business Digital Media Pack

World-leading technology will see the launch of a new end-of-life tyre recycling plant created by Greenology (Teesside) following a “significant” investment from a well-known local businessman.

Laura Hepburn, owner and managing director of Greenology (Teesside), is celebrating the addition of Mike Racz to the company as “investor, partner and director on equal footing”.

Mike, best known for his success with Domino’s, Costa Coffee and Anytime Fitness franchises under his Racz Group business, invested in Middlesbrough-based Greenology after meeting Laura in a Zoom chat with other local business owners.

During the discussion, Laura spoke openly about her frustration in finding appropriate backers.

“Listening to Laura, I was immediately struck by her passion and tenacity,” said Mike. “She really appealed to my business sense and so I followed my heart and jumped in, offering to discuss things further.”

As a new start-up, Greenology, which recycles old tyres and turns them into marine-grade oil, was unable to access any government loans or rate relief during the Covid crisis.

“Laura was vocal about her difficulties and her determination to raise money on her terms to carry on and expand the fantastic work that her company does,” continued Mike.

“I could see the incredible potential there and I believe in what Greenology is doing. But more than that, it’s Laura the businesswoman, with her personality, commitment and dedication that I’m buying into.”

Meeting up in person soon after the roundtable, Mike and Laura – both adopted Teessiders with a love of and dedication to the region – discovered a shared vision of levelling up, creating jobs for life for local people and making the Tees region a better place in which to live and work.

“The deal for Mike to step in as an investor was done swiftly and with no nonsense,” said Laura, who subsequently received another offer of funding – one which she was uneasy about accepting and consequently turned down.

“I’ve been honest about the issues surrounding borrowing as a new start-up and especially as a lone woman in business. Mike understood that – I think he enjoys championing the underdog.

“He also understood that, for me, any investment has to sit well. I couldn’t lose my integrity or ethos for the sake of money, hence the reason for dismissing the other offer.

“Luckily, our values are freakishly similar. I see Mike as the catalyst to help Greenology grow. He has so much business experience, he knows the pitfalls, he’s a forward thinker and always ahead of the curve.

“Additionally, he knows the value of where Greenology is heading. I see him as my mentor in a way, a man who I know can help me future-proof the business.”

Mike added: “It was perhaps inevitable that Laura and I would gravitate towards each other and join together in business because we’re two peas in a pod.

“I can’t say that before this deal I knew anything about turning old tyres into fuel, but to be involved in helping the environment feels great. Laura has so many amazing ideas for Greenology and I just want to be part of her vision.”

On a day-to-day basis, Mike, who already runs 10 businesses in 10 different sectors, will offer strategic and technical support, allowing Laura to push ahead with her plans to deliver a full-scale plant on Teesside within the next 12 months that will use world-leading technology to recycle plastic.

“Hopefully I can add value with my role,” added Mike. “Laura was always destined to go far, but hopefully with my support she will get there a bit quicker.”