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On the 24th February, 1921, P C Henderson Ltd. is founded. From humble beginnings, an office and small warehouse was formed on the premises of a paint and varnish factory, in Barking, Essex. The company begins trading with a staff of 3. In its first year of business the company releases the first catalogue – the General Catalogue No. 21. Detailed in the catalogue is the initial Henderson product range – a mixture of hay carriers and sliding door gear for the agricultural sector.
Manufacture is commenced of the first version of Tangent Round-the-Corner gear. The product became so successful that the company heartened by its success begins to expand its limited range of Overhead Runways and Sliding Door Gear.
That year the company records its first profit - £144 10s. 1d.
In order to accommodate the steady rise in demand for sliding door gear the company purchases its own premises in Barking. ‘Tangent Works’ as it is named, becomes the company’s base for production for the next 31 years.
The company enters into an intense period of design and product development for sliding door gear. The first Henderson design patent, for a 1021/2 guide, is granted.
Increasing sales leads to the first stage of expansion at Tangent Works. Throughout the occupation of the Barking site pressure on space is high as the company struggles to keep up with demand for the new tubular track design.
The company begins exporting sliding gear, developing markets first in South Africa and then New Zealand. Following successful launches in both these markets the company begins to export to China, Singapore, Sweden and Egypt.
Tangent Works expands further with the purchase of a neighbouring property, allowing the factory the essential room required to double capacity. The new machine shop is larger than the entire original factory. Much of this time was spent producing sliding door gear for the various military establishments around the country, a link that endures to this day.
Tangent Works is bombed several times. The machine shops, when possible, are switched to the production of armaments and aircraft components. The roof is destroyed and parts of the building are badly damaged but production continues using a tarpaulin roof for cover.
In June 1950 P C Henderson Ltd. becomes a public company. In doing so, much needed capital is raised to set in motion the planned expansion programme that will allow sliding door gear to be produced in vast quantities.
Henderson began producing ‘Ultra’ up and over door gear for timber garage doors. At the time, timber was relatively cheap and traditional side - hinged garage doors were the norm in the UK.
A breakthrough in design created the Henderson metal ‘Dolphin’ packaged door, which required assembly on site. This enabled Hendersons customers, builders merchants, to break into the garage door market – a market previously supplied exclusively by timber merchants.
As the price of timber increased, so did the popularity of the metal Dolphin door, leading to the introduction of the first ‘Merlin’ metal garage door (which sold at £14 10s. 0d. for a standard sized single door). The Merlin established metal up and over garage doors as the main type of door in the UK.
With the Barking premises bursting at the seams and demand still far outstripping supply, a new factory, ‘New Tangent Works’ is built at Harold Hill, Romford. New Tangent Works provides over 64,000 sq. ft of production and office space essential to the continued expansion of sales.
The company invests heavily in its strategy of producing high quality products supported by a strong technical service, substantially increasing the research and design department.
Export markets continue to expand with new markets developed in Africa and the Far East.
A year tinged with sadness with the passing of the company’s founder and original driving force Percy C. Henderson. The mantle of following his vision for the company and realising its potential is taken up jointly by the three remaining executive directors.
The subsidiary company P. C. Henderson (N.Z.) Limited is formed to support the rapidly growing markets of Australasia.
In early 1965, an office was opened in Nieuw-Vennep in the Netherlands with 5 staff to deal with the growing sales of doors and sliding gear into Europe. Demand grew quickly, resulting in the opening of a new plant at Bladel, in the middle of the South of Holland, near to the Belgian and German borders.
As sales of Henderson up and over garage doors grew (accounting for an estimated 50% of garage doors being fitted in the UK!), there became a pressing need for a purpose built factory to produce them. A site was found in Bowburn, County Durham and in 1969, the dedicated Henderson factory was fully open and the first doors were rolling off the production lines.
The company celebrated its Golden Jubilee as the 1970s dawned.
Sliding and folding room dividers achieved 'high fashion' status in UK homes as families looked to open plan living and greater flexibility in the use of their rooms.
The market for up and over garage doors was also growing fast and 'Henderson' was quickly becoming a household name in Britain.
The phenomenal growth in the popularity of Henderson garage doors and sliding gear led the Henderson newsletter to track one of the delivery wagons for a week. In that time, the wagon operated night and day for 5 days (with two crews working alternate shifts), covered over 3,000 miles and carried 288 tonnes of garage doors and sliding door gear to Henderson customers. And this was just one wagon from a large fleet…
A need for increased production and storage facilities led to the acquisition of the factory and offices adjoining the Eastern end of the Tangent works in Romford. The new plant was named ‘Dolphin Works’ after the first Henderson metal garage door.
Development of the Bowburn garage door factory continued quickly with the commissioning of a new cold rolling line to support the growing sales of Henderson up and over doors.
The company entered the 1980s with two well established product lines as sliding door gear continued to set the pace at home and throughout the world and Henderson garage doors benefitted from the boom in home ownership and the increasing wealth of the mid 1980s
This year saw a landmark - the two millionth Henderson up and over garage door rolled off the assembly lines at the Bowburn factory – a double ‘Doric’ style door, sold to a builders merchant in North London, and then onto the two millionth satisfied owner.
Further improvements to the range of doors meant that all the installer needed to complete the job was a screwdriver (provided he could prise it away from his dog!).
The product range continued to develop to meet the aspirations of late 1980s householders, including doors made from GRP (Glass Reinforced Polyester) and made to measure ('tailor made') sizing to cope with garages of virtually any size.
The P.C Henderson Group of Companies was acquired by Hepworth plc, a leading UK based building products company. Henderson joined other well known names, such as Glow Worm central heating boilers and Hepworth plumbing in a portfolio which could almost cover all the different types of building materials needed to build a house!
Henderson gained BS5750 Quality Management accreditation, followed by European quality standard ISO9002, reinforcing the company's commitment to quality.
Over £10m was invested in the Bowburn factory, making the production lines the most advanced in the world. The first Henderson ‘Premiere’ steel garage doors were born, offering exact made to measure doors (in size increments of only 1mm), with unique jointing methods and the strongest Henderson door panels ever.
Following further expansion of the Bowburn factory and the inherent communication problems of the two P.C Henderson factories being located 250 miles apart, the Romford plant was closed and all production moved to Bowburn, bringing together sliding gear and garage doors under one roof and establishing Bowburn as the Head Office and main base of the company.
Henderson awarded the prestigious ‘Investor in People’ award.
In the same year, the P C Henderson Group of Companies was acquired by Cardo Door AB, the Swedish based group of companies – Europe’s largest producer of industrial doors and it’s fastest growing manufacturer of garage doors.
The Henderson portfolio of sliding gear and garage doors fits neatly into Cardo Door, with emphasis on product design and development
Henderson awarded European Standard ISO 9001 for quality in design.
In July, Henderson make the national television news as a fire sweeps through the GRP door production line. Due to the professionalism of the emergency services, the fire does not spread throughout the factory. Amazingly, production of 95% of the door range is back up and running at 8am the following day and GRP doors continue to be made off-site while a major re-build of the factory is undertaken
A £1 million re-build is completed and the Henderson GRP door production line is re-located back into purpose built facilities at Bowburn. In the year since the fire, we were able to supply virtually all customer orders
2004 is also a year of major product initiatives as Henderson take the garage door market by storm. The exciting g30 sectional garage door is launched in the UK to wide acclaim as at last there is a sectional door from a British manufacturer to beat the best that Europe and America can offer. In June, a further 5 colour finishes were introduced for Premiere Steel up and over doors, leaving other manufacturers way behind
In 2008 the Garage door business is sold allowing PC Henderson Ltd to concentrate on developing sliding door gear solutions which is world renown for quality and service.
P C Henderson wins the coveted crown of SME Exporter of the Year at the North East Exporter’s Awards.
Shortlisted alongside two other business from the region, P C Henderson went through two rounds of judging before being announced as the winners at the prestigious awards dinner held at Ramside Hall Hotel on 15th June.
Organised by the North East Chamber of Commerce, the awards aim to recognise North East companies that are significantly contributing to the region’s economy through their exporting efforts and achievements. The SME Exporter of the Year category, sponsored by Port of Tyne, was one of eight award categories on the evening.
Judging criteria for the award took into account the development of an export strategy, the product range exported and the complexity of markets served.
P C Henderson wins Export Business of the Year at the Chamber Business Awards.
After winning two regional heats across March and April 2018 - P C Henderson was then selected by the North East Chamber of Commerce to represent the region at the national finals in December 2018.
Held at Tobacco Dock, London – the 15th Annual British Chamber Awards welcomed over 70 companies from all corners of the UK to battle it out across 14 award categories. Hosted by TV presenter Jenni Falconer and headline sponsored by Facebook, the awards are viewed as one of the most contested and prestigious awards programmes in the UK.
The Export award recognises companies that have generated substantial success in international trade. Judges cited product adaptation, meeting market specific preferences and putting the diverse needs and preferences of its customers as the reasons behind P C Henderson’s success.
P C Henderson exhibits at leading international trade fair – Bau – in January 2019.
Eleven team members made their way to Munich to showcase a wide selection of sliding and folding door hardware systems - as well as introduce three new products to the market – Husky Soft Stop, Pocket Door Pro and Shutter Slide.
Attracting over 250,000 visitors, BAU is the world’s leading trade fair for architecture, materials and systems. P C Henderson was amongst almost 2300 companies to exhibit at the event in Messe Munchen, Munich.
The event was a huge success as the P C Henderson stand was able to display almost every functionality type – sliding, folding, multidirectional bottom rolling and automated – making for some extremely popular live demonstrations and product tours.
P C Henderson celebrates its centenary – signifying 100 years of high quality manufacturing, product innovation and a dedication to worldwide exporting.
Unfortunately the company wasn’t able to celebrate in its usual way (due to Covid-19) but still managed to carry out some socially distanced celebrations including - keepsake gifts for all employees; cake in the post to mark the occasion and video messages from team members from around the globe.
The company marked the occasion by highlighting some of its greatest achievements over the year - offices in the UK, Ireland, Holland and China; expanding its export function to distribute to over 70 countries worldwide and becoming firmly positioned as the go to provider for sliding door hardware.