Creativity and flexibility bring opportunity from adversity

Published: Wednesday 22 June 2022

This image shows Mage Control Systems Managing Director Matthew Love in front of a sign for the company

Businesses suffered terribly during the pandemic, but a local company managed not only to survive, but to find an opportunity.

Mage Control Systems, based in East Kilbride, designs and creates custom control systems that are embedded in the devices they operate.

Because every project is individual and designed from scratch, the uses are endless, with their work having covered anything from therapeutic massage beds to align the spines of MS patients, to clamps for testing armoured electrical pipes without cutting into them and to the drill heads that operated far underground in oil wells.

The company started in 2016 with five employees and enjoyed rapid growth to a staff of 20… until Covid-19 struck and they faced working tirelessly in the fight to stay in existence.

Operations Director Janet Menzies said: “The pandemic hit us very hard, as it did everyone. We lost contracts and supplies became hard or even impossible to come by, and at the same time we saw other companies in our sector fail to survive. There were two aspects in particular that got us though it, however.

“One was that many start-ups are founded around a single product, which leaves you totally reliant on that product and therefore vulnerable. Instead, Mage had, from the start, a vision of creating and training world-class engineers to achieve ground-breaking technological innovation, which means that, in basic terms, the types of contracts we can take on and the sort of companies who we can help with their products are limitless.

“The second was that we have always had a progressive approach as far as our staff are concerned, focusing greatly on training, apprenticeships and job progression as well as maintaining consideration for them and their families. For example, we had already introduced remote working before Covid-19 hit so when it did strike, we were able to adapt our working practices to cope and our employees were happy to work with us to make changes as they were needed.

“Both of these aspects meant that we were able to not only react to potential problems arising from the pandemic situation, but that we also had the right people to carry out that rapidly changing work.”

This image shows two employees of Mage Control Systems looking at work on a computer


The opportunity that emerged from the company as a result of the pandemic is a perfect example of how this synergy between company ethos and workforce relations can bring innovation and success even in negative and unforeseen circumstances.

Managing Director Matthew Love said: “We were looking to help by working on new innovations to help in the fight against Covid-19. We already had experience in developing products for the medical industry, both at home and abroad, and so understood how the market worked, what problems could arise and the sort of solutions that were urgently needed and we began to develop a ground-breaking hand-sanitisation product for use initially in hospitals, with the potential to be used in other markets in the future.

“As increasing shortages of suitable PPE and hand sanitising gels began to grip the world’s healthcare systems, a new idea was essential, and our solution was a new product: a rapid, perpetual hand sanitisation device

“What we designed was a wall-mounted multi-technology hand sanitiser that provides a measured dose of low-level active gases maintained at a tightly controlled level. In itself, this concept alone is not wholly innovative or new, but what sets this device apart is its ability to log and track its users through the use of radio-frequency identification technology that means that it can only be used by staff who are trained in the proper method of sterilisation.

“Hospitals and other healthcare settings were obviously the first planned situations planned for this device but Covid focused everyone’s attention more on hand-hygiene and this will become a part of life in general as we move ahead. Therefore we can market the device to other workplaces, such as offices, warehouses, hotels, gyms and schools and it can easily be adapted for such settings with, for example, an interface instructing users on how to operate it.

“The device’s potential for domestic and international sales far supersedes that of any other original product we’ve worked on before – and it all came as a result of us adapting to a time when we were working to stay in business.”

This image shows microchips and a motherboard at Mage Control Systems


Janet added: “The approach to this is typical of what we do with all projects, in matching creativity and practicality to find the right solution. This has meant that the growth of the company has been natural, with no major investors or funders – we have grown as the work has necessitated it.

“It would be naïve to suggest that growth can be undertaken on our own, however – no one knows everything they need to make a success of it, and in this respect we are indebted to the Business Support Team at South Lanarkshire Council.

“They have been invaluable in providing advice and guidance as well as assisting with part-funding to help with, for example, consultancy and essential new equipment for mechanical engineering.”

Councillor Robert Brown, Chair of the council’s Community and Enterprise Resources Committee, knows well the work of the Business Support Team and was greatly interested in the work they had helped to foster through their assistance of Mage.

He said: “There are huge opportunities for South Lanarkshire businesses in the new post-Covid world – and Mage have shown how to take advantage of this. They are not only an absolutely fascinating company in the work they do, but are also a great example to others as an employer in the way they nurture their staff and steadily grow their number of employees.

“I am delighted that the council has been able to assist them in this and am eagerly looking forward to seeing how they grow in the coming years and what exciting innovations they will come up with.

“They are also an illustration of how our Business Support Team can help any type of company – whatever your line of work, business principles remain the same and our experts are happy to tailor their advice according to the needs of each company just as Mage tailor their own work according to each contract.”

Any company wishing assistance from South Lanarkshire Council’s Business Support Team or looking to find out more about their wide range of services for businesses, from assisting start-ups right through to supporting well established local firms, can find information on the Support for business pages on the council website or email

South Lanarkshire Business Support Grant is the operational name for the South Lanarkshire element of Business Competitiveness Grant Support - Lanarkshire, which is part-funded by the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) and delivered and part-funded by North and South Lanarkshire Councils.