What were things like when you started at the company?
When I started here in 1988, this building was our main factory and everything was manufactured here – either from solid polished brass or painted steel. We had no computers, mobile phones or internet. Weekly production programs for each department were handwritten on large sheets of graph paper and product specifications were no more than “fag-packet” drawings!
Poole Lighting grew steadily and cheaper brass-plating was introduced in the early 90’s. As plating quality improved it became accepted by more customers, and the volume of polished brass declined significantly. We grew quickly in turnover and had to increase capacity many times to keep up with demand. At one time there were at least 120 women assembling lights in the unit over the road – keeping them busy was probably the most challenging yet rewarding period I have spent here.
How have things changed?
Inevitably, manufacturing had to move to China for us to remain competitive, and at that time I was technical & quality manager. A fresh set of challenges arose and we soon built up a solid team in China to back up our UK operation.
Over the years, several other UK lighting companies have been acquired and absorbed into Poole – Arnold Smart, Quest Emess, Cresswell, Helix, Endon – I count myself as very fortunate that we have kept our base in Poole.