As the company continues to grow Roy Fowler, our founding member, explains how our thriving business works, his role as founder and what the future holds for the conveying industry:
“My role as company founder is a varied one as I strive to ensure sufficient exposure of the company within the ever-growing market. Making sure we attend relevant exhibitions and staying up to date with our on and offline marketing methods is key to our business strategy.
I started the company back in 1975 in a bedroom in my house, importing equipment from manufacturers in Denmark and Italy. In order to cater for the demand for custom engineered solutions, it quickly became apparent that we needed a proper engineering facility. And so we moved to Slough Trading Estate where we rented our first unit. Twelve years later, as demand and staff numbers increased, we expanded on to Langley Business Park and took up residence in a 10,000 sq ft factory. This additional space allowed for us to offer in-house solutions, including fabrication programming and control build; something that the industry was constantly demanding.
Our focus back in the 70’s was to purely tackle the plastics industry. But in 1995, we branched out into food processing and packaging. The move presented some issues, particularly in respect of handling raw food such as mincemeat. But today, we have established an enviable reputation for offering reliable, competitively priced equipment with a performance guarantee and all of our equipment conforms to the agreed technical specification.
In 2008, we were delighted when UPM Conveyors was awarded the Queen’s Award for Innovation based on a radical new approach to belt conveyor construction that used High Molecular Weight Polyethylene (HMWPE) in 3M x 2M sheets which formed the side members of the conveyor and these are cut on an in-house router. Given that we were born from small beginnings, this was a huge achievement for the company following this £150k investment and reflected our hard work and passion.
Today, we export worldwide and have achieved preferred supplier status with high profile companies such as Procter and Gamble, Unilever, Lindal Group and Findlay’s Fresh Produce. Moreover, we have a European network of agents that we’re proud to work alongside and are determined to eventually broaden our horizons to China and the Middle East. Our global efforts are well reflected in the recent installation of a £200k order in Mexico for Lindal Valve.
As the company grew, our employee structure changed too. To date, we have five board level directors (all much younger than me!) who work tirelessly to ensure the strong future of the company. A challenge that we’ve had to tackle has been the hunt for skilled labour; a struggle born from the lack of training and apprenticeships available over the past five years. Recent governmental moves have placed extra emphasis on the need to grow the manufacturing sector meaning that we can now offer apprenticeships to young school leavers to guarantee a highly skilled workforce.
Most recently, since the last election, we’ve seen a resurgence in confidence for our industry from customers who were previously anxious about investing in new equipment. But there’s no doubt that the conveying and manufacturing industry is flourishing; the automotive sector is growing exponentially and the food industry has more processors than ever before. We see a bright future for UPM Conveyors and with our 40th birthday just around the corner, we’re excited for what the future holds for our humble yet prospering business.”