The History of Philpots
High Quality Precision Hard Chrome Electroplating & Grinding Services - Plasma & Metal Spraying - Hard Anodising


The History of "Philpot's"

The business was started in 1902 by Alfred Matthew Philpot (1876 – 1971) as a result of him being asked to leave the Salvation Army Instrument factory because he had been found to have lead poisoning.

The History of "Philpot's"He set up his own musical instrument repair business in rented accommodation in Park Street, Luton. As motor cars became more common, he was able to use his skills to repair their lamps and radiators. Significant business came from the repair to staff cars, manufactured by Vauxhall motors, during WW1 for the War Office.

In 1915 he bought a newly built house in Dunstable Road, Luton, and a small workshop was constructed at the far end of the garden to accommodate the expanding business.

In1919, Alfred was joined by his son Amos David Philpot. With the business doing well after the war, Alfred purchased some land in 1922, that ran at the back of the house and that of 3 adjoining neighbours’. This fronted a right of way which later became Grantham Road. Onto his original workshop, Alfred built a further workshop accessed by this right of way.

The History of "Philpot's"
The History of "Philpot's"

As brass instruments and car parts often require plating after repair, a decision was taken to expand the business by developing an electroplating department by about 1924, and the business managed to survive the economic depression of the 1930’s. With the help of a Government License a further building was added to the site at Grantham Road in 1943, and in this year Amos became a formal partner in the family business with his father Alfred.

In1949 after the Second World War, the family business was joined by Amos’s only son, David, and the business found itself in competition for labour with large companies in the town such as Vauxhall motors, who apparently snapped up anyone trained in chrome bright-work. For this reason “Philpot’s” decided to focus on hard chrome plating, which they had begun to specialise in, in 1941 to fulfil aircraft requirements during the war. Over 3000 Mosquito aircraft had components hard chromed by “Philpot’s” during the wartime. Adding a further string to their bow, hard anodising commenced at “Philpot’s” in 1954 mainly for aircraft undercarriage components for Percival aircraft.

These decisions paid dividends, allowing further expansion to the Grantham Road site in 1959/60. The site had been ‘sold’ within the family from Alfred to Amos for the reported sum of £1000, and in 1961 the business was split into its component parts A.M.Philpot (hard Chrome) Ltd and A.M.Philpot (Radiators) Ltd. It remained a true ‘family’ business with Alfred as sole proprietor of the brass band instrument business aged 85yrs at that time, Amos as managing director, and his son David a director with David’s mother as company secretary of the limited companies.

The History of "Philpot's"
The History of "Philpot's"

In 1971, Alfred, the founder of the business died , aged an astounding 95yrs despite lead poisoning some 70yrs previously. With his death came the death of the instrument repairs that he had continued proudly, but which was in truth not a profit making part of the business despite the quality of the work.

The History of "Philpot's"
The History of "Philpot's"

Amos and his son David effectively managed and owned the business between them from this point on but then came a black year for “Philpot’s” in 1985.

In the 1980’s changes to the country’s engineering legacy took place rapidly. At A.M. Philpot’s the radiator part of the business had managed to hold its own until in 1985, when it’s two experienced staff retired and that part of the business became commercially unviable and subsequently closed. Later that same year Amos died aged 82yrs, leaving David as the sole family member to run the business which was struggling. It had relied upon one particular customer’s production requirements for their hard chrome plating business since 1958. Looking after this particular customer’s needs took up most of David’s time, having only two remaining part time staff to help keep the business going.

David had married aged 44yrs in 1977 and did not have children of his own. His wife was a widow with two children.

The future of the ‘family’ business was in jeopardy, and David turned to his step son-in-law, Andy Morgan. Andy had served an apprenticeship at SKF Ltd. (a well known bearing manufacturer) as an electrician, and was at the time working for British Telecom on their building services team. He had been maintaining and upgrading much of the equipment at “Philpot’s” over the previous few years. Amos, David’s father, had, before his death suggested that Andy should be given the opportunity to join the family business in order to try to secure its future.

Andy took up the challenge, and joined the business in January 1986, seeing that it had potential. From day one he took a fresh look at the way the business was running and worked hard to diversify and extend the customer base. David backed up all of these changes and suggestions, whilst he did not always agree with them, he appreciated Andy’s ‘business head’ and hardworking hands-on approach.

The steady expansion of the business and staffing levels eventually necessitated the move of the business premises. Andy with David’s help, bought Unit D Cradock Road Luton, in 1997. David had retired in1997 but still took a keen interest in the family business as he does to this day. When David retired, this enabled him to indulge in his passion for traction engines, something that has been part of David’s life since the 1960’s.

The History of "Philpot's"

With the move to Cradock Road came the chance for Andy to offer greater capacity and a more efficient production process. As more customers were seeking modifications and alterations to components, the step was taken to provide this, and the manufacturing of new components from drawings or samples began.

Never one to miss an opportunity or to shy away from taking the occasional risk, Andy, in 2006 added to the business. A local business, and customer, had unfortunately gone into receivership. Via negotiation with the Official Receivers plant and equipment was purchased enabling diversification into what is now known as the Technical Coatings Division, housed in Milton Keynes. This complemented the services already available at “Philpot’s” and allowed for the most recent acquisition, taking advantage once again of another customers misfortune (receivership). In this case the business ‘acquired’ an experienced engineering coordinator, who joined the team with over 20yrs experience specifically within the canning industry. Therefore the business now is a supplier of 2 piece canning components and the associated equipment, in addition to maintaining the core of the business of reconditioning, manufacturing and repair.

“Onwards and upwards” Andy Morgan 2008.

Philpot’s History Update 2012

Following Andy’s assurances in 2008 that the business would be going ‘onwards and upwards’ he has been as good as his word. Indeed the business has continued to expand with a steady increase in turnover despite a difficult economic climate. In fact the last four years have been the best to date. As a result the company has continued to invest in its staff and in its plant without losing sight of the need to provide a quality service to its customers.

In January this year Philpot’s took on a Project Manager and part of his role includes Health and Safety which is important to the business regarding ensuring a safe working environment. Taking advantage of his enthusiasm and his background in Industrial Science, this new team member has also been tasked by Andy with addressing the Green Credentials of the business (link to green credentials page) and there is now an active and robust green and recycling policy in action, as well as an in-house programme for ensuring that mandatory Health and Safety training is maintained.

Another first for the Company this year was its presence at the Stafford Classic Motorcycle Show, where regular customers were pleased to be able to bring their pitted motorcycle forks for reconditioning, and to be able to put names to faces, especially Andy and Works Manager Martin Reynolds. The two day show attracted a number of new customers as envisaged, although many show visitors who came to the stand were already very familiar with the name of the Company and its websites (www.amphardchrome.co.uk & www.pittedforks.co.uk) and via motorcycle magazine advertising and journal articles over a number of recent years (some written by Project Manager Steve Cooper with his journalist hat on). As Andy remains a motorcycle enthusiast and enjoyed the show it is safe to say, Philpot’s hope to be regular stand holders at this regular event.

As of June 2012 Philpot’s now employs 23 staff across the two sites and is looking to provide apprenticeship opportunities for individuals willing to learn quality and traditional skills from the experienced and knowledgeable longstanding staff members. David Philpot who remains fit and well (and devoted to his traction engines), was delighted to hear that the history of the family business is to be included in a book about Luton which is to be published in the near future and this acknowledges the strong tradition of engineering in the town. Philpot’s is now one of the very few remaining engineering firms that have been present and thriving in Luton for over a century.

At Philpot’s Andy remains firmly at the helm but there has been a need to put in place a line management structure to enable and ensure efficient progressing of each job as it makes its way through any number of required processes. These necessary changes have ensured that Philpot’s is not only a competitive business, but prepare it for the next stage of the 'expansion plan'…….

Further "onwards & upwards"

Andy Morgan 2012

 

 

AM Philpot (Hard Chrome) Ltd - Unit D - Cradock Road Ind Estate - Luton - Bedfordshire - LU4 0JF
Tel: 01582 571234 - Fax: 01582 584924 - E-mail: sales@amphardchrome.co.uk

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