The evolution of success: meet our #madeinsandwell Monday star company Rubery Owen

This week’s #madeinsandwell Monday star is Rubery Owen – a family-owned business with a long and interesting history.

Established in 1884 in Darlaston as JT Rubery and Brothers, the firm once made components for various industries, including motor chassis, steelwork and aerospace products. It enjoyedRF Techtron Manufacturing significant growth throughout World War II and the decades that followed, employing at its height 17,000 staff across 63 businesses in five continents.

Rubery Owen has always been synonymous with high quality and enterprise. Until the 1980s, many cars made in Britain would have included a Rubery Owen product – perhaps a wheel, an axle or a simple bolt.

Over the years the firm has been involved in many interesting projects, such as the famous BRM racing team, which won the F1 Championship in 1962, and the development of Donald Campbell’s Bluebird.

While the company faced a significant downturn in the recession of the 1970s and 80s (and reluctantly closed its Darlaston factory in 1981), it remained responsive to the opportunities of a changing world.

Moving in line with market demands it now operates seven group companies and employs almost 200 staff across the West Midlands.

The group now services a diverse range of markets – from materials testing and the design and manufacture of bespoke testing machines, battery management technology, horticultural machinery and innovative cleaning solutions, to Land Rover vehicle retail and the manufacture, formulation, blending and packing of chemical liquids.

It also engages in more traditional activities, such as property development and car retailing.

The group’s current executive chairman, Richard Jenkins, is the fourth generation of his family to be at the helm and he believes that Sandwell’s skilled workforce is a benefit to the whole group.

“Our teams are passionate about what they do. Speaking and listening to them, and sharing group news and key messages across our groups, are key. This ethos of strong communication, coupled with focused training and staff development, are key to our success.”

In the near future Rubery Owen is committed to building a materials-testing division in the West Midlands through its subsidiary Rotech, based in Wednesbury. This company dates back to the early 1900s and provides a broad range of routine material testing procedures for several major manufacturers in the region.

Its Darlaston subsidiary Rotronics is committed to developing its capability in the battery management sector for both existing and new and emerging technologies and the group is also developing a division committed to providing material cleaning solutions through its company Techtron.

Sister company Rozone, based in Darlaston, provides innovative and effective water-based or safer solvent-based cleaning solutions and degreasing parts washers to blue-chip organisations, allowing organisations to maintain their fleets of vehicles and workshops with a product that is kind to the environment and does not impact the health of the operatives.

Brierley Hill-based Phoenix Materials Testing Ltd is the UK’s most diverse materials-testing technology specialist, offering in-house testing, bespoke design, manufacture and support of machines and control systems. Meanwhile the group’s Telford company, Merlin, offers services for testing and characterising early-stage development formulations, trouble-shooting existing formulations for production processes and bespoke testing to generate data to track computer modelling projects.

Rubery Owen also has a property division, New Hall Estates, which owns several commercial properties in the West Midlands and Shropshire. It is actively working on several housing projects that will be developed over the next decade in line with local government housing development plans.

Do you have a non-standard, complex or extreme testing requirement? Whatever your testing need, Phoenix will work with you to deliver a solution that fits your specification.

#madeinsandwell Monday is a celebration of the talent and diversity of businesses in our borough. If you’re interested in being considered for a #madeinsandwell Monday profile, read this.