OVER the last 275 years, Richard Carter Ltd has seen off the worst slumps in history and continued to prosper through a formidable combination of hard work and common business sense.
The manufacturing company is believed to be the second oldest family-run firm in Yorkshire, and far from resting on its laurels, it is planning to keep growing.
Founded by Jeremiah Carter in Huddersfield, West Yorkshire in 1740, and now operated by his great-great-great-great-great grandson, Richard Carter, it makes hand tools that have been prized by generations of Britons.
But what’s the secret of its success? Richard Carter, the firm’s managing director, said it has prospered by taking a hands-on approach, and making sure that all decisions are made in the long term interests of the company.
He said: “It has survived through foresight and being in the right county at the right time. We permanently have to guess what the customer wants. We tend to run a fairly tight ship.
“We have to store more stock because we have to cushion for the highs and lows of what the customer wants.”
Historically, the firm had been heavily reliant on the coal and steel industries, and it has managed to broaden its customer base as these sectors declined.
The firm is building a 9,000 sq ft warehouse to cope with customer demand.
Today the company has 35 staff and a turnover of around £4.5m, and it remains true to the principles of its founder. It is proud to provide employment for local people, and offer them skilled work.
The new warehouse is being built next to the current factory, and it’s the first time the company has expanded its premises since it moved from its old manufacturing site in 1999.
It will provide vital additional storage, allowing the current site to significantly expand its manufacturing capabilities,
Mr Carter added: “This is a landmark year for us.
“It is 275 years since our founder made the very first Carters hand tool and I’m thrilled to mark the occasion by expanding our premises which is testament to the skill and workmanship of all the staff who work for us, past and present.”
Richard Carter Ltd, which is now a sixth generation family firm, has witnessed the reigns of 10 monarchs, survived the Boer war, the First World War and the Second World War, and it has watched the industrial revolution change the landscape of the UK.
It also saw the rise and demise of the mining industry and it was affected by the numerous booms and crashes in the housing market.
It hasn’t all been plain sailing. The company survived a near-disastrous fire in 1957, which almost finished it off. However, it bounced back, defying the odds to keep producing hand tools that are used and trusted by thousands of people.
As a sign of its confidence in the future, the company has also invested a quarter of a million pounds in new state-of-the-art machinery.
The new wood-turning machine will result in a 20 per cent improvement in efficiency, compared with the previous equipment, as well as providing additional training opportunities for staff to upgrade and learn new skills.
Richard Carter has appointed Yorkshire-based Radcliffe Construction to build the warehouse.
Mr Carter added: “The new wood-turning machine is cutting edge technology, which will drastically improve both efficiency and productivity and make us significantly more competitive as a business.
“The new equipment, combined with the site expansion shows that we’re putting all the necessary measures in place to accelerate our growth.
“We want to build on the years of quality manufacturing that our forefathers have set the precedent for, and we’re looking forward to the opportunities that the new warehouse facility and the new machinery will provide in doing so.”
A far-sighted approach that Jeremiah Carter would surely have endorsed. For more information about the company visit www.RichardCarterLTD.co.uk