As Don Whitley Scientific (DWS) leaves its Shipley premises to move to a new manufacturing facility in Bingley, we look back on how the company has changed in the last 35 years.
The company moved to 14 Otley Road, Shipley in 1982. With nine employees at that time, the building seemed to be far larger than was actually needed. However, the space allowed DWS to re-organise and expand at a consistent rate over the next few years and enabled us to overcome the obstacles of a worldwide economic recession.
Subsidiaries and Distributors
In 1992, our first subsidiary was opened in Australia to provide a central hub for sales in the Far East and Australasia. In 1998, the second subsidiary was created in Germany. Meintrup DWS Laborgeräte now employs 15 people and in 2016 opened newly built headquarters with adjacent warehouse, which will provide the potential to expand. The move seems to be proving successful because in 2017, Meintrup DWS was awarded “Best Distributor” in recognition of their status as our current top selling distributor.
During this time, DWS began to further expand its export markets by establishing a network of distributors such as Microbiology International in the USA. We now have over 50 distributors around the world.
In 1992, DWS started working with AES Laboratoire (now part of BioMérieux) to sell media and sample preparation equipment in the UK. This relationship has also stood the test of time and we still sell many of those same product lines today. We also now sell goods in the UK on behalf of Synoptics, Tuttnauer and Ebers Medical.
As clinical laboratories saw more and more need for automation, DWS began working with Copan Italia in 2010 to sell the Walk-Away Specimen Processor in the UK. There are now two full WASPLab installations with others in the pipeline and several WASP front end systems throughout the country. We will continue to move forward with Copan as their interests expand into other markets.
Growth and Diversification
In 1991 DWS opened a suite of laboratories that offered contract research and sample analysis. This service has not only been a revenue stream in its own right but has been invaluable in assisting with the research and development of new products over the years.
Another facility that has generated income for the company is the machine shop. In 2012, substantial investment in new tooling automation and CAD capabilities allowed this department to not only create additional parts and components for the Whitley range in-house, but also to provide a sub-contract engineering/design service.
Employees for the Future
In an effort to encourage young people to take up careers in engineering and to ensure we have future employees with a good standard of training, we set up the DWS Apprenticeship Scheme in 2010. We currently have eight apprentices – with our first female engineering apprentice joining us in July. Several apprentices have recently completed their training and all have been retained on permanent contracts.
Don Whitley Scientific is an independent, family-owned company that now employs over 70 people. The structure, ethos and culture of the organisation extends this family orientation to its employees. We now have three families in the business that have three or more members employed. There are lots of other family relationships too: mother and daughter, mother and son, husband and wife.
The World is our Oyster
We have now manufactured over 4,000 Whitley Workstations, which have been exported all over the world – from the USA to China, from Brazil to Norway. The additional manufacturing capacity that the new Bingley premises affords us can only help our expansion plans. It provides us with the opportunity to improve the processes and procedures that have so far contributed to this success story.
And here’s to the next 35 years!