Richard Threlfall Group

“We strive for innovation”

Richard Hurst - Chairman, Richard Threlfall Group

We had to diversify

My great, great grandfather established the company in 1834, making textile machinery in Bolton for the booming cotton industry and it’s been owned by the family ever since. In the 1960s, though, we were struggling to cope with being in the same city as the biggest textile machinery company in the world. It was time to pursue other areas. We began by manufacturing valves that were used by British submarines, and since then we’ve developed that part of the business, mainly focusing on the oil industry. In the early 1990s we stopped making textile equipment altogether and now there are two other companies in the group: GB Silicone Technology, which supplies silicone products to companies doing everything from aerospace to pharmaceuticals, and a property company that has commercial and residential developments in Bolton and North Wales.

Taking a long-term view

Everything changes – the business world, markets and products. Our willingness to strive for innovation and enter different business areas has paid dividends over the years. We’re also focused on attracting loyal staff who are able to develop alongside the company. We find it’s often better to get the right people first, then put them on training courses ourselves. And, being a historic, family company helps as well – it motivates people to endure the tough times in the knowledge that we’ve come out of the other side in the past.

We are now in good health

We’ve had a relationship with the Bank for more than 175 years that has served us well all the way through. They were willing to help us restructure our borrowing and improve our cash flow through the recession. We’ve managed to weather the storm without making any redundancies, working shorter hours or losing any of our customers, so all looks well. We’ve just won a very good export order that will see us supply valves to oilfields in the Middle East. That’s worth £1.9 million.