Wickford Mould and Tool was founded in 2009 by Bob Kitchin and David Edwards. By pooling their life savings, the pair of engineers purchased the plant and machinery from the previous owners and persuaded the landlord to give them a chance.
Wickford Mould and Tool operates from its 150m2 facility in Wickford, Essex, supplying the automotive, aerospace, medical, industrial and domestic appliance market with rapid turnaround tooling design and manufacture.
As well as specialising in the manufacture of injection mould tooling, including complex multi-cavity moulds and unscrewing mechanisms, the company offers a mould repair and alteration service from its in-house toolroom. Wickford also offers injection moulding services, with a range of machines from 22-480 tonnes, catering for all requirements from tool trials, small-batch moulding, or full production runs.
“With injection moulding machines ranging from 22 tonnes to 480 tonnes we were ready for action, but all the customers had already recovered their mould tools, so we recruited just one mould setter to support the fledgeling tool making business,” explains Bob Kitchin, Wickford company Director. “Clawing our way back, we’ve grown from five to nine employees, and we take pride in the fact that two retirements have allowed us to recruit two school leavers into the mould shop, both keen to work and to learn.”
“We run lean. Most business comes from existing customers whilst new business comes from referrals. We survive against global competition by providing fast and friendly service with high quality.”
One customer remarked: “We thought your repair costs were expensive until we realised, we no longer have to send the tool back for repair.” This philosophy of quality first is very important to Wickford. The company believes in performing work to achieve the best lifetime cost, not just what is preferred in the short-term.
Bob continues: “Whether it’s a new mould tool that you want to run and run, or patching up an old tool to make a few thousand components more, we work with you to achieve the best lifetime cost option.”
“Our tool-making business is mostly for automotive or healthcare applications. These sectors typically have the greatest quality and reliability demands. With some of our tools set to run 24/7 in cleanrooms, avoiding downtime is essential. Making tools for the chromed plastic surround for the rear light clusters of a prestige car was a special challenge – how to stop the component from distorting when being chromed. There is some amazing software available to study mould flow these days, but it’s still no match for an apprenticed toolmaker with thirty years of experience.”
In addition to tool design and manufacturing, Wickford Mould and Tool offer CNC CAD/CAM and a range of turning, milling, spark and wire erosion, grinding and welding services. The mould shop also now offers twin-shot injection moulding and compression moulding specialities.
David Edwards, company Director, added: “For customers who are torn between the cost of UK manufacturing and the delays and uncertainties of offshore manufacturing, we have formed a great working relationship with a toolmaker and moulder in China. We can arrange for tools to be made in China and either shipped to the UK or for components to be made in China. Our margin reflects the cost of absorbing the risk, and we always check tools on arrival in the UK.
“Eleven years on, we know what hardship means, but Coronavirus took us all by surprise. We are so grateful for the support from the Government to allow us to furlough staff through the worst of the crisis when business fell to an all-time low. Just before we closed the factory in April for three weeks, we completed a tool for PPE Shield headband in four days from order – our small contribution to help protect those dedicated to saving lives.”
As part of its plan to continue to grow and explore new avenues of generating business, Wickford Mould and Tool has recently joined PlastikCity, the online procurement portal for the UK plastics industry, listing its services in the ‘Mould Repairs and Polishing Services’ and ‘Compression and Intrusion Moulding Companies’ sections.
To find out more information about Wickford Mould and Tool, visit the company website, or get in touch using the details below.