2022 is a very special year for Parvalux, as it’s the year we celebrate our 75th anniversary. Who would have known in 1947 when Leslie J. Clark founded the business that it would still be going from strength to strength in 2022?
The company was started in Romford in Essex, and sold motor rewinds, but relocated to Bournemouth, Dorset in 1961, and had expanded the service to designing and manufacturing complete gear-motor units for industrial applications.
Since then the company has continued to grow and expand in a business, manufacturing and geographical sense.
The factory in Bournemouth, for example was expanded in the 1980s and the CNC manufacturing equipment was upgraded in 1995 in order to keep up with industry demand.
Parvalux continued to extend the products offered in order to cover a broad range of AC/DC electric motors and gearboxes, which enabled the business to sell into a diverse range of markets and applications all around the world.
In 2013 there was a need for a new machining and gear cutting facility, followed by a high-volume production facility four years later. This facility was responsible for our higher quantity orders and was the answer to our high-volume, product-specific, production line requirements. It still operates three independent flowlines, each supplied by our own in-house winding section and sub-assembly lines. It is entirely self-sufficient and delivers to customers directly.
In 2006, Parvalux went truly global, by sourcing gearboxes from India and following a joint venture in China, opened a factory, situated just south of Shanghai. The factory employed 18 people and was a third of the size of the Bournemouth factory. The Chinese factory produced various products for Parvalux, including the company’s first motor with integrated electronics.
Over the years Parvalux has seen a number of leaders from Chief Executives to Managing Directors who have all put their mark on the business and helped carry it forward to the next stage of the journey. For example when Steven Clark took over as Chief Executive in 2003 he helped bring the company into the digital age by ensuring the business was fully networked and introduced a CAD system.
When Justine Levine joined as Managing Director in 2008 he was keen to make Parvalux ‘cutting-edge’ and said:
“Parvalux was seen by many people as being old fashioned, with a range of motors and gearboxes that were very dependable but certainly not ‘cutting-edge’. None of Europe’s larger manufacturers of motors considered Parvalux to be a serious competitor, but I could see that the company had the potential to become a shining star. … In 10 years’ time I want to have turned Parvalux into something really special.”
And he definitely continued Parvalux’s journey into global expansion through his knowledge of industrial automation and control products.
Parvalux had (and still has) a reputation for reliability and Levine saw there were hundreds of loyal customers and very few product returns. As a small family run business, Parvalux was also able to do things that a larger organisation couldn’t such as offer products which were standard off-the-shelf items but configured-to-order or fully customised, as well as designing new products from scratch where they were needed.
Parvalux could also provide one-off products as well as tens of thousands meaning we had a wider customer base which was demonstrated by the fact that our motors and gearboxes were used in a very wide range of applications, such as for the windscreen wipers of French TGVs and other trains, for repositioning solar panels to face into the sun, in patient hoists, and in coin-counting machines. It couldn’t help but become a ‘shining star’ in the industry.
Buying the competition
By 2008 Parvalux were prospering and were able to acquire their main competitor, the DC motor application specialist EMD Drives Systems of Halstead, Essex thereby creating the UK’s largest privately owned manufacturer of sub 1 kW electric motors and gearboxes.
EMD had an equally long and successful history and had competed with Parvalux since the 1980s when they worked exclusively with DC products. In 2009, the EMD staff were moved to Bournemouth to join the newly merged business which helped to double turnover. The merger allowed Parvalux to offer products in much higher quantities than previously possible and introduced a new ‘product development and design’ function (PDD).
Part of the maxon group
One of the biggest changes was when a Swiss motor manufacturer, acquired Parvalux and made it part of the maxon group in 2018. maxon operates in 40 countries and employs more than 2,050 people, of which more than 1,316 are based in Sachseln, Switzerland. At the time Parvalux had 185 employees in three production sites in Bournemouth and generated revenues of £23 million annually, with just over 40% being exported globally.
The acquisition allowed Irish and UK customers to access an unrivalled range of DC geared motor solutions and technical expertise. Maxon and Parvalux share much of the same company ethos which makes the acquisition an excellent fit. The Managing Director who oversaw the sale, Nick Spetch said at the time:
“We’re delighted with the sale to maxon Motor, who have an established pedigree and portfolio in geared motor manufacture worldwide. This market-leading mindset will help take the business to the next level.
“The success of Parvalux has been built over an exciting period of growth for the business, particularly over the last 10 years, and we are all very proud of our long-established heritage in the area. Our commitment to delivering outstanding service to all our customers coupled with the new owners’ investment will help Parvalux grow into more countries and reach new markets.”
Since the acquisition, Parvalux as part of the maxon group has continued to grow globally, and in January 2022 Doug Sheppard took over as Managing Director heralding the dawn of a new culture, revitalised workplace, investment in people and safety environment taking the business forward on its mission to grow and almost double the work force by 2030. Which brings us to the 75th anniversary celebrations. Doug said:
“Reaching our 75th anniversary is a proud moment for the business, our longevity is a testimony to the innovation and hard work of our people throughout the decades. We still have employees in the business that joined over 40 years ago who share their knowledge with new talent joining us now, combining years of motor design expertise and the latest engineering approaches.”
We are currently the UK’s largest fractional-horsepower electric motor manufacturer and supplier, with state-of-the-art manufacturing and service facilities. And as a maxon company, we have representation on every continent and the backing of one of the finest technical teams on the planet.
New Premises for Parvalux in 2023
So what’s next? In 2023 we will be moving our HQ and factories to an 8.75-acre development site in Poole, Dorset. The £29.8million construction of this purpose-built 14,000 square meter factory and office headquarters commenced in 2020 and is due for completion next year.
This site will amalgamate our current electric motor factories and the administrative function, with the major new building project providing additional room for future growth including a £3million investment in new production machinery. The new Parvalux House features;
- More than 14,000m2 floor space, centralising all production and offices to a single site.
- 1500 PV roof panels, supplying 100% of the building’s operational power.
- More than 50 electric vehicle and E-bike charging points.
We hope this is just the start of the next 75 years of being in business.