Marshall TrailersBusiness — Farming / agriculture
Charles J Marshall (Aberdeen) Ltd celebrated its Diamond Anniversary in 2012. Sixty three years ago, the Marshall brand was conceived by Charles J Marshall; the year was 1952. This tenacious 18-year-old apprentice joiner decided that after his National Service, he would establish his own business producing something that he could sell en-masse. At this time in history the introduction of the new technically advanced tractor was just in its infancy and the young Charles decided this was his time to capitalize on this opportunity.
While he was posted in Aberdeen, he was able to combine army national service throughout the day while building trailers at night; no mean feat but a win/win situation for this young man. His initial modest ambition was to build himself a factory to supply the whole of Scotland and to be the largest supplier in this territory! To achieve this goal some land and a small croft was purchased, just 6 miles from Aberdeen. Charles managed to secure this at the cost of £2,450. Needless to say his current long suffering neighbours were delighted as they had endured years of noise and constant TV interference from power tools used by this enthusiastic young man. By 1956 the first part of the present factory building was completed, named Chapel Works, it covered a 12,000 sq. ft. site. True to form, the young Charles supervised and even poured the concrete blocks by hand to ensure that the best value was achieved from his investment.
The greatest advantage to his new factory layout was the ability to create the relatively new concept of a production line that allowed for the most efficient use of labour; always an expensive commodity and not to be wasted! Although said tongue in cheek, Charles quickly realised that labour was an essential requirement but had to be used efficiently so the production line was integral to this. Then as today, Charles invested heavily in his business and purchased vast stocks of steel and other components. This gave him the added advantage of being able to buy at very competitive prices and so produce a more cost effective trailer. The knock on result from this strategy was a rapid expansion of turnover allowing him to further develop the factory premises. By this stage he was employing all the trades required to manufacture steel and timber trailers. Production output had also rocketed up from a mere 46 units built in 1952 to supplying well over 1600 units per year by the mid-sixties – no small feat for a joiner!
Equipment was another area of investment that was expanded to keep up with rising demand. A new brake press and guillotine was purchased, the largest north of the Clyde for that time!
Likewise, the shrewd move away from the “slow” arc welders to the latest concept of MIG welders also proved to be a winning formula for speeding up production. Nothing was going to hold him back from achieving his original ambition! The 1970s were the years of strike action and horrendous labour relations and Charles was extremely proud of the fact that he never had a strike and his factory still produced throughout this period. This result, he firmly believes, came from his own work ethic and the fact that even at this stage in business; he worked a full day with his staff on the shop floor. No job was too menial for Charles and no task was asked to be undertaken that he could or would not do himself.
Now producing well over 2000 units per year and with an extremely efficient factory, his focus turned to rotary spreaders to continue to increase production. Once again these spreaders were distributed throughout the country and in partnership with an extensive dealer network that he worked hard to supply. The success of the spreader was further augmented by the introduction of the Marshall slurry tanker in the 1980s. In 1982 the bright new talent of Charles Richard was introduced and he started his apprenticeship within the firm. Like his father before him, he also worked his way through the shop ensuring he had the same sound understanding of the business as his father and today he feels that nothing really beats the experience gained from doing it yourself. Taking up his present position as managing director in 1998; he has successfully steered the company through the years of BSE and foot and mouth. Like his father before him, he still operates the firm on a daily basis handling all the purchasing, sales, after service and the general management required for a company of this size to function. Throughout its 60 year history, no answer phones have ever been used and Charles R is still fully committed to the fact that customers are what make a business. All this “modern” rubbish of electronically answered phones, emails, faxes, texts are the downfall of many a business as it seems the customer is no longer important enough to be spoken to directly, a position that will never change as long as Charles is in charge. Today we are still proud of our original Chapel Works premises and we continue to invest and annually spend six figure sums to ensure we stay ahead of our competition. We produce on average 46 units per week that are sold throughout the world and we can now proudly boast we are the UK’s oldest and largest trailer manufacturer.
2012 was quite a milestone in the history of our company as we celebrated 60 years in the business and we are proud to be manufacturing trailers and other farm machinery. Perhaps what is more remarkable is the fact that we are still owned and operated by the same family; quite a feat if we say so ourselves! Three years ago the company also welcomed the next generation into the fold. The grandsons of Charles J Marshall, namely Charles Peter and his brother David, have now completed their studies. Charles successfully achieved a LLB Hons in Law and graduated from Aberdeen University while his brother achieved Student of the Year at Lackham College in Wiltshire passing a BTEC with triple distinction in land based technology. So, as this demonstrates they both bring a wealth of knowledge to the table and we are sure they will develop the business further in the coming years. Now there should be no excuse for not being able to talk to a Marshall with four available to handle any enquiry, a novelty in todays world!