Partnership Spotlight: The History of Rotec

The idea of the formation of the company was originally in April 1979 and was founded by Terry Light and Tony Howard. Terry recalls – the idea originated from an Irish company who had been extremely successful in southern Ireland, selling predominately into the agricultural market.  Their area of operation was similar to that of Somerset and surrounding counties.  Having visited their operation, which, at the time, was almost unbelievable, it was decided that Rotec should be formed with the support of the Irish company.  At the time there was no hydraulic and hose specialists between Bristol and Exeter, which gave the new operation an opportunity.

Having little understanding of the technicalities of hose assembly, the Irish company were good enough to offer training which was readily accepted.  Subsequently early in July 1979, having acquired the lease on the old Co-Op butchers shop which formed part of a complex in Lambrook Road, off we went.  We were fortunate that we had quite a large number of contacts within the construction industry, most of whom were ready to direct their business to us.  By good fortune we exceeded our business plan target in the first month! We expanded fairly quickly and soon it was felt we needed to employ support staff, which we did.  The early days was supported by a healthy relationship with the then Taunton Cider, supplying their engineering and cellar servicing departments.  Prior to Taunton Cider being taken over by a large brewer, we had supplied over one million metres of low density polythene for their bar installations.  The business was going well; in fact we had hose and coupling stores in five different locations within the town, which wasn’t the most efficient way of running the business.

In 1984 we had a decision to make, either cut back or go forward, standing still is never an option. Being the people we are ‘the going forward’ decision was taken.  Subsequently, a purpose built warehouse was constructed for us to lease in Frobisher Way.  As soon as we occupied the building which was, of course, much more expensive than our previous arrangement, guess what, our turnover went down, which caused a few sleepless nights.  As things turned out a few larger customers principally in the agricultural sector, began to place significant long term orders for hose assemblies.  It was soon realised that if we were to grow further, we needed to enter the market for technical product, which involved the design and build of systems and power units.  This fact coupled with the turndown in the replacement hose assembly business made the decision easy but the implementation more difficult, as specialist staff was a necessity and they would not come cheap!

So it was that in the early 90’s we found ourselves well-staffed and fortunate enough to obtain some customers with whom a relationship blossomed.  We supplied power units and systems for tunnelling machines, test rigs, simulators for the leisure and defence industries, saw mill equipment, forwarder forestry machinery, and so on.  There were of course risks in ensuring the customer’s requirements were interpreted correctly along with increased legislative requirements. However, overall we progressed well, and turnover continued to increase.  Ultimately, we were supplying 100kw systems to Airbus, and to a ship owner who installed undersea cables, and biggest of all was supplying and fitting winching systems to the Utility vehicles.  The ability to satisfy the specific needs of customers like National Grid, MOD and the Superyacht market has placed the organisation in an enviable position.

It is interesting to compare the company when it opened, looking to fill a market gap to the one we have today, which is mainly technically based, but filling a market gap.  I was fortune to support and oversee the business to its new ownership in 2007, headed by Paul Prouse, Andy Rimes, Richard Lang and Richard Renfree – the business has gone on from strength to strength and it gives me utmost pleasure to see Rotec celebrating its 40th year in business supporting industry on a  local, regional and national basis.

Well done Rotec! Rotec Hydraulics have been involved with Somerset County Cricket Club for a number of years as a valued partner and sponsor. They are our Royal London One-Day Cup Main Partner.

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