Nearly 12 years ago in a small East Yorkshire village, Detectamet Detectable Products was launched and has grown to become one of the world’s leading suppliers of detectable safety and hygiene equipment for the food beverage and pharmaceutical industries.
Sean Smith and Angela Musson-Smith established E-Components & Chains as an engineering company with its core business supplying Conveyor Components and Chains Change Parts and Feed Scrolls to the food and drink industry. The success of ECC led to visits to many food companies and meetings with key technical staff. Regular references by these food producers to the need for metal detectable plastic equipment to preserve their machinery and protect their products and their customers from the dangers of cross contamination highlighted a potential demand that the company could satisfy.
With their foresight and drive the founders saw an important opportunity which their company should take. It would take advantage of Sean’s experience of over thirty years in the plastics industry meeting the challenges and resolving the puzzles of supplying the food and pharmaceutical industry with plastic products.
The first product group in ECC’s metal detectable plastic equipment was a range of stationery. It was on the market by early 2004 and quickly generated a high demand from the UK food industry. Ten years ago the UK was established as leading the world in building food safe processing systems and practices. Food producers needed to use several plastic products in and around the production area, but knew the risks of them falling into the food mixer, breaking and ending up in the finished product.
With most food processing companies already checking their finished products using a metal detector it meant that these metal detectable tools or their parts would be found and the contaminated product rejected.
Detectamet Detectable Products
By now the company had moved into an industrial unit on the Pocklington Industrial Estate from where it could despatch its products, and in less than a year it exhibited the first Detectamet Detectable Products at the Total Show in Birmingham. “We met potential customers and demonstrated the product, “says Sean” It was also an opportunity to discuss their needs for other detectable product.”
“We grew so rapidly in this sector” Angela explained “that the core of the business had changed and I realised that the brand we had established – Detectamet was how our customers referred to us and we changed our name to reflect this.” So the company name changed to Detectamet Detectable Products Limited. The company’s ranges now include metal and X-ray detectable tools and equipment, stainless steel and aluminium products, detectable engineering products and personal protective equipment.
Detectamet Detectable Products now has a multimillion pound turnover in products that are despatched daily around the world. From that first start nearly 12 years ago the company now supplies over 234 products and product groups that range from the original pen design through to the latest detectable plastic tools and stainless steel stationary and dispensing products. On any day for example products are being despatched as wide afield as Australia, New Zealand, Germany, France, Italy and the USA, and turnover has increased every year since 2003.
Detectamet Detectable Products products are now sold in over 100 countries because safer food production is now demanded around the world and food producers value the assurance of detectability. “It has not been straightforward” says Angela “We have had to prove compliance with international standards for plastics in contact with food, and now satisfy the EU and US regulations”
The company now employs a team of IT specialists who have developed web sites to inform and sell products. There is a sales team which provides direct contact with UK and overseas customers, plus a manufacturing team who assemble, pack and despatch the products.
When asked to pick out some high points of the past 12 years Sean said that he will not forget being asked by a major multiple retailer to talk to their suppliers about the benefits of using metal detectable tools. “They are the front runners in food product quality and safety” he said “and to be invited by them was a quite a landmark”. Another milestone was when the first major international food production plc called a meeting to explain that it wanted its manufacturing sites around the world to use Detectamet Detectable Products.
Angela says that before the announcement of the Queens Award for Enterprise one of her proudest moments was achieving ISO 9001:2008 and thereby demonstrating the abilities of the Detectamet Detectable Products team to achieve the highest levels of service and efficiency to meet their customer’s requirements. “I started the process with the belief that we would certainly satisfy the criteria but then realised that we had more to do to raise our standards even further and put the systems in place to maintain them”.
Together they agreed that the takeover and incorporation of the company CK Safety into the Detectamet Detectable Products group was another major milestone on the journey to success. CK Had built a reputation for producing metal detectable personal protective products. “These fitted like a glove into our product range” said Angela.
“It has been an exciting and rewarding ten years” says Sean “and it doesn’t look like slowing down. We have launched seventeen new products since April last year and there are more on the way.”
Detectamet Detectable Products continues to change and adapt. With Angela as Managing Director and Sean as CEO their strategy continues to be the expansion of the company’s sales overseas into Asia and the America’s. “We are presently preparing to open offices in the USA to improve our efficiency in satisfying that growing market whilst our sales team follow up on the contacts we made when exhibiting in Germany in March.” Sean explained.
Detectamet Detectable Products has been able to continue its growth through difficult international economic circumstances. “The company started with limited funds – savings, hard work and goodwill.” Angela remembers. “The company had no financial support from the bank and never traded with an overdraft. We continue to work to a similar ethos of low borrowing.”
The company has come a long way since that first detectable plastic pen. They now have hundreds of different detectable products that are used throughout food production areas. They even have pens that will work under water, work in a deep freeze and can write in space.