A clear vision
Dating as far back as the 19th century Hepworth International has a rich history, and has been under the management of the Eddy family since the early 20th century, therefore longevity is something that the company does not lack. It has a record of diversification, having started out as a manufacturer for carpet chemicals, and then progressing to be the global leader in the design and production of windscreen wiping systems. It has gone on to offer these services to both the marine and rail industries, which is something it continues to this day, and has gone on to expand the business into new markets.
In June 2015, Hepworth announced the acquisition of Monitor Marine International, a privately owned company established 30 years ago to develop and manufacture a wide range of high quality, precision-engineered stainless steel marine deckware and interior fittings for super yacht and quality volume boat builders. This acquisition is a sign of the direction and ambition of the company, and demonstrates how the business is continuing its historic tradition of looking to the future and investing in it. CEO Jonathan Eddy went into greater detail about this: “We have moved production from Monitor Marine’s side and brought it to our factories, which has meant most of the actual manufacturing is in-house. Something else we have done with this new part of the business is extend the range quite significantly, with additional items, to make it more attractive to our customers across the world.” Jonathan also explained what had motivated the purchase: “I could see over a number of years that Monitor Marine wasn’t really expanding, and I thought we could add a significant amount to it, through the company’s manufacturing, and world wide sales distribution – we export 80 per cent of what we make around the globe, from China, America, Singapore, South America, and many more.”
The purchase of Monitor Marine is not the only investment Hepworth has made to secure a increasingly profitable future, there have also been large investments in a new factory that will be added to the existing one, and an expansion of the fabrication division, as well as increasing the sales team. Jonathan built on this: “We are doing a lot of fabrication work now for the marine industry. From basic parts molded into the hulls, to all the polished stainless steel, and the glossy dips you see on the outside. We have been expanding this side of the business quite a lot over the last couple of years, and we will continue to do so.” The improvements achieved with the new factory is something else Jonathan highlighted: “We invested three quarters of a million on a new much larger high speed plant, which will not replace the previous one but instead be in addition. It will provide greater output and value – it increases the size of material we can cut for our main industry, such as stainless steel and aluminum, and this was on top of the three new CNC machines we bought.” This impressive amount of reinvestment in improving what the business can offer is no doubt a sign that Hepworth has built on the success of the last 150 years.
There are many notable contracts that Hepworth has worked on, in a wide variety of markets – the company provides for Navies, super yachts, cruise ships, and many other vessels. One example is in April 2016, of the HSSV for the Oman Royal Navy, which Hepworth fitted with a wiper system. Another is in May 2016, the company provided the world’s largest cruise ship, Harmony of the Sea, with wynn straight-line wipers. There 57are countless illustrations of what Hepworth can do, but Jonathan singled out one recent accomplishment: “There had been one big issue, heavy ships windows have been getting bigger and bigger, and windscreen wipers had not been able to meet that. So we have developed, tested, and now put into production a wiper system that can go up to two metres in length, and made sure that it has the same reliability that all our products have.” The dependability of Hepworth products is crucial to the cost effectiveness of shipping, as windscreen wipers is a safety related item, and this was something Jonathan did outline: “There have been quite a few occasions where ships have come into a port, and the authorities have said until you get your windscreen wipers working we aren’t going to let you back out, and that is expensive, which is why we place such importance on our products consistency.”
Having had a year that saw Hepworth experience over five per cent growth, and around one and a half million pounds invested in plant equipment, as well as expansion of the sales office, the plan for the company in the next few years is right to be ambitious. This is something that Jonathan did sketch out: “Currently we have a turn over of £15 million, and are hoping to get £24 million next year, and then to £30 million the year after that. In order to achieve this we have invested in people, methods, and being able to get the quote and product to the customer as quickly as possible.” The improvements to production and delivery time was something Jonathan expanded on: “The turnaround time used to be between 10 to 12 weeks, but we have now got it down to a matter of days. We can take an order on the Monday, ship it out by the Wednesday, and have it arrive in China by the Friday – we do not turn down a delivery challenge unless it really is impossible.”
Hepworth is a name that has lasted for well over a century, and it shows no signs of dwindling in another century. In fact, it is quite the opposite, under the current leadership the company has backed a policy of innovation and expansion. It has a growing list of accomplishments such as the new larger windscreen wipers, and a market dominance that is only on the increase, Hepworth appears to be one company that won’t be wiped away.
Bigger design for bigger ships
Expanding the company
Improving the speed of the service