RP HISTORY – INTO THE NEW MILLENNIUM

For the third part of Rutland Plastics’ history we pick up in 1986.  There was now no doubting the strength and vitality of the business. By the mid-Eighties, turnover had reached £3 million, with employee numbers steadily rising to reach 110 by 1989.

The company acquired its first patent in 1986: the Selectroweld fittings range, which took five years to develop and was patented jointly with Rutland Plastics’ customer (see ‘electrofusion’). Gas pipe fittings remained a staple product, but the range was extensive and varied. As well as rearscope lenses, Rutland Plastics still produced 500,000 piano keys a year, as well as refrigerator parts, road lamps, medical products and electric fencing. The company attained BS5750 – now ISO9001 – in 1989, the year it expanded yet further by buying the back half of the Corah’s hosiery factory next door. In 1990, as the size of gas fittings being produced at the factory increased, Rutland Plastics invested in an Engel 1250-tonne moulding machine with a shot weight of 18kg.

INVESTING IN THE FUTURE

A staff size of around 110 employees has remained fairly constant since 1990. The company has a long history of training and developing its workforce. This was officially recognised in 1995, when it was licensed to assess and award NVQs. Four years later, Rutland Plastics obtained Investors in People status. Martin O’Neill, then Leicester City’s manager, presented the company with the award.

1996 saw the company purchase its first 3D CAD system: Pro-Engineer. Anvil 2D CAD was already in use at the factory, but the desire for the added benefits of 3D reflected the company’s forward-looking attitude. Investment in modern technology continued in 1998 with the addition of a Mitutoyo co-ordinate measuring machine (CMM). This was deemed vital for the quality control of the wide range of complex, high-specification mouldings that Rutland Plastics was by then producing.

In accordance with this pioneering spirit and zest for new business, the relatively new technology of Gas Assisted Injection Moulding was added to the portfolio of services offered by Rutland Plastics in 1999. It has come to play an important part in the company’s ever-increasing range of products.

The firm has never been content to rest on its laurels (plastic or otherwise!). In 2000, the business of St. Ives-based moulder Permanex was acquired and, closer to home, Rutland Plastics bought the next-door Coats Viyella factory. Although there were no specific plans to develop the site at that stage, this purchase opened the possibility of future expansion without the need to move.

INVESTING IN THE FUTURE

Another, even bigger moulding machine was added at the start of 2005 (a BMB 1700-tonne machine with a 38kg shot weight) and, coinciding with the 50th anniversary of the company in 2006, plans were produced to begin redevelopment of the entire factory site.

The company still employed around 110 people but turnover had grown to exceed £7million – testament to the fact that Rutland Plastics is a forward-moving, thoroughly modern business with 50 years’ wealth of experience on which to continue building.