The C.A.T. story so far
The business is established from a home extension and borrowed space from friends in the industry. The range consists of three UPVC sections and one brass section for ceramic flooring.
The focus is on brass profiles and designs are made for solid extrusions previously unavailable in the industry.
A small 1000 sq foot warehouse is rented in Watford, finishing equipment is cobbled together and press work is sub contracted to an engineering company in High Wycombe.
More space is needed and we rent 3500 sq feet of warehouse space in Tring, Hertfordshire. The warehouse is on a first floor, not ideal when you are working with 350kg crates of brass, still, it’s cheap and the extra space is utilised with an automatic polishing machine which is a big improvement on polishing the profiles individually.
We are still a very small business with five employees but are becoming well known as specialists in quality brass products for flooring. Five very busy years at Tring and more space is again needed. 6000 sq foot unit is available in Luton, Bedfordshire.
Here we go again, the unit is in a pretty tired state and we fit it out to be workable over a six week period whilst slowly moving over from Tring.
We are still selling plastics though the brass range is growing rapidly. It is still early days, and we now have the largest range of solid brass profiles in the flooring industry.
We see an opportunity for stainless steel sections (a metal popular with architects and specifiers) and have a range of products produced by a local sheet metal company. This complements our bass range superbly and is very well received by clients requiring a better finish than aluminium.
We are the first accessory business in the U.K. to produce stainless steel profiles and our reputation as specialists strengthens.
A fabrication and bespoke department is established for the curving and forming of metals, some in house and a small percentage sub contracted to a company in the midlands with specialist machinery.
To date nobody has provided a service for the forming of floor profiles, yet, architects are specifying flowing shapes in floors, curves are in, and corners are out.
During this period we bring all the press work in house and purchase a power press and are no longer reliant upon sub contractors to press profiles. Another polishing machine is commissioned and we lease another 6000 sq feet adjacent to our unit which we start to fill very rapidly as expansion continues.
At this time brass (the yellow metal) goes out of fashion, we develop new colours in plastics and most importantly take a bold step to create special finishes on brass, designed for the commercial and residential markets.
Another first for C.A.T., chrome is an immediate success and early trials for antique finishes are carried out at home on the weekends. We have found a niche for brass by applying special finishes and though expensive the developers absolutely love the finishes and we are market innovators.
A decision is made to purchase our own plastics extruder and employ an experienced manager who guides us through the purchasing process. We are now in control of our plastic profile production and we set to developing sections in UPVC and PVC predominantly for the commercial and retail outlet market.
We are now providing the industry with a wide range of UPVC sections for the timber and ceramic sector of the industry and develop a section that can be formed on site “Spectrum ZIP” in a variety of colours, popular again with specifiers allowing curves on site without the cost of fabrication and is fitter friendly being easily installed.
The plastics side of the business becomes increasingly important and a factory in Cornwall is purchased. This also becomes the facility for R&D and production of marketing material. Just as we fit out the factory and settle into production the U.K. goes into recession.
We work through the recession and by 2012 acquire a further 6000 sq feet of factory space in Luton. We now produce the largest range of brass stair nosings in the U.K. as well as flooring profiles and introduce aluminium profiles and reach out to the middle market with high quality designs.
Our catalogue becomes The Comprehensive CAT with products for all sectors of the industry and all types of flooring.
Heavy duty carborundum tread products are developed in Cornwall for exterior and heavily trafficked environments and an industry specialist is employed to develop the compound recipes and methods of manufacture.
Specialist machinery is purchased to allow production of stainless steel products in house, no longer relying upon sub contract companies. We now recognise we have become a light engineering and true manufacturing company of our own range of products.
We celebrate thirty years in business and produce over five hundred products and whilst still regarded as specialists are acknowledged as major suppliers.
To date we are at a pivotal point in the company’s history with the need for more space in Luton to continue the rate of business growth we require.
We now supply hundreds of products to thousands of customers in the U.K. and export for projects throughout the world including USA, Australia and the Middle East.
Left – Luton Head Office, Right – Hayle Plastics Division