Committed to composites

AOC (UK) Ltd is a complete distributor to manufacturers of composites, handling everything from resins and gel coats, to glass fibre reinforcements and surface coating products. The company’s comprehensive product offering and on-site technical support in turn helps its customers to improve their productivity, quality and consistency.

First founded in 1984, AOC (UK) Ltd operated as Hawk International until US-based AOC LLC acquired it in 1999. Since this time the company has remained a wholly-owned subsidiary of this parent company, which is the largest resin manufacturer and supplier on the North American market. AOC (UK) Ltd is unique within the Group by supplying direct bulk manufactured resins along with a full spread of distribution composite materials to manufacturers across the UK.

“While our parent company focuses mainly on resin and gel coat technologies, AOC (UK) Ltdis a ‘one-stop-shop’, explains managing director of AOC (UK) Ltd, Peter Cheshire. “This means that as well as resin we sell a host of additional products. For a boat builder, for example, we can supply everything required to build the vessel. Marine is one of the core markets that we work within, but we also cover a number of other key sectors including transportation, building and construction, roofing, leisure, and corrosion-resistance.”

Accordingly with the activities of its parent company, AOC (UK) Ltd is very strong in resins – both in terms of manufacture and supply. This is recognisable in its comprehensive offering of unsaturated polyesters, DCPD, vinyl esters, hybrids, blends, and specialist resins for the polymer composite and cast polymer sectors. Each product has its own properties meaning that AOC (UK) Ltd can supply into all market segments and manufacturing processes. The business also retains a versatile blending arm, which can add pigments or fillers to the resin to meet customer requests with regards to colour or structure.

“In terms of the marine market today, growing areas are materials for resin transfer moulding (RTM) processes, and low profile resins which can help deliver better finishes,” outlines Peter. “A lot of larger vessels are being constructed with infusion resins so we have incorporated these into our range as well. We are also one of the major suppliers to the marine industry for glass fibre reinforcements, which are sourced from two different manufacturers. Primarily these materials are brought in rolls, but we are now working with some of our large boat-building clients to offer reinforcements in kit form as well. AOC currently supply glass reinforcements to all of the major UK power cruiser manufacturers, as well as a host of sailing yacht builders, fishing boat, workboats and RIB manufacturers.”

For AOC (UK) Ltd the slogan of ‘what the customer wants, the customer gets’ rings especially true. Rather than just putting out a standard product range to market, the company spends time talking to its customers about what they are really looking for, and then uses this information to source, or develop equivalent solutions. One example of this is AOC’s dedication to sustainability. It first created resins with recycled materials in the 1970s. Today, its commitment continues with its EcoTek Green Technologies. Designed as an alternative to petrol-based resins, EcoTek products have processing characteristics and mechanical properties that are equal to or better than traditional materials, whilst being environmentally responsible. This is achieved in three ways across the range; renewable content using green raw materials, recycled content from post-industrial material, and a revolutionary styrene-free resin technology.

Although there is no doubt that many of the markets that AOC (UK) Ltd operates in are continuing to face challenging times, the business itself has grown against this backdrop in gaining more market share. “AOC (UK) Ltd has continued to grow year-on-year for the last ten years and therefore we have seen the need to invest in supporting our customer base with a new 55,000 square foot office and warehouse facility,” describes Peter.

“This opened earlier in the year, and consolidates our existing functions and services within a single location. We are now also looking to upgrade our manufacturing capacity at the new site, which will provide us with greater capability to produce more different types of resin. Whilst we have seen some of our competitors leave the composite marketplace in recent times, AOC is committed to the long-term growth of the industry and this investment is a clear indication of that,” he continues.

As well as the UK, and theGroup’s home market in the US,AOC is also growing strongly at an international level. Europewide the Group has around seven manufacturing facilities in different countries, which enable it to assist customers who may have a global presence at a local level. Additionally, AOC products are manufactured in Asia and the Middle East. On all fronts though AOC’s vision is to continue to grow, and AOC (UK) Ltd’s recent site investment is a key part of its strategy towards this, and sustainably positions the business for years to come.

AOC (UK) Ltd
Composite material suppliers
Comprehensive product offering
Moved into new premises