Background to the Licensee Operation

By the early 1950s the UK business was on a sound footing and growing. Dr. Simon turned his attention as to how it would be possible to capitalise on the technology being generated by the, admitted, as yet, meagre laboratory resources available at Stafford, in overseas markets, particularly in Europe.

The potential markets stretched from Scandinavia in the north to Italy in the south, from Portugal in the west to Greece in the east. As the war years receded all of these countries were putting in place their own standards, work practices and building regulations in an industry where Evode`s expertise lay. For a company with limited resources employing multilingual salesmen with a working knowledge of the building practices in place in one or more of these countries did not appear to be an option. Additionally there was the expensive problem of labelling products in a number of languages, preparing promotional literature and introducing advertising in the correct, appropriate magazines if direct selling was to be achieved.

However, if it were possible to find companies already operating in the various countries, preferably engaged in some aspect of the building trade, which were willing to enter into an agreement with Evode to manufacture products under license, paying an agreed royalty, it would be a method of generating revenue with a reduced commercial and technical input.

Dr. Simon personally looked around the European markets to find suitable partners and he alone conducted the negotiations which would conclude with an agreement being signed. Before this event took place usually copious correspondence took place between the interested parties and Evode, mainly clarifying and expanding on the types of technology which would be made available, the technical support forthcoming from Stafford, and Evode`s background knowledge on how the UK market had evolved. It was a process of reassurance that the potential licensee was dealing with a company which knew its business and had the technical resources to back it up.

Whenever a new licensee entered into an agreement, which was drawn up by Evode`s solicitors and subject to English law, the licensee invariably started out with a number of presumptions and disadvantages. Although the company may have been engaged in the national building industry for a number of years, it was entering into a new area of technology with a range of products not previously dealt with although similar materials may already be available in their marketplace. Basic technology and sample products were supplied to the licensee who, in possession of these data always tried to run before he could walk, naturally wanting to capitalise on the potential for his newfound technology. The usual course of events was that he would attempt to get involved in too many markets at once without any concerted plan of how sales were to be obtained, compounded by his lack of expertise with the products he wanted to manufacture. Frustration would set in due to his lack of progress. At this point Evode`s quiet and gentle diplomacy had to be brought into play to calm the situation, give reassurance and attempt to steer his efforts into more productive channels.

Most licensees found that, at least initially, they were at a disadvantage technically in terms of laboratory facilities, capable chemists and suitable manufacturing equipment. The first item usually depended upon the size of the company and its affiliations but facilities could range from excellent to very basic. Similarly, the trained people to transform the Evode-supplied technology into saleable products varied enormously from company to company, from a well qualified team to a one man band. Manufacturing equipment, in many cases was very specific to the types of products being made and, while Evode supplied much technical and engineering background on machinery in use at Stafford, in many cases overseas companies had to improvise, with some surprising results, in most cases successful.

Perhaps the biggest bone of contention, which in the long run was one of the major factors in the formation of the Licensee Laboratory, was that of raw materials, their suppliers and suitability for use in Evode formulations. As a matter of course, details of raw materials were passed to licensees on a regular basis together with names of suppliers. In some cases the licensee would find that a particular raw material was too expensive or that the supplier did not operate in their country, in which case an alternative product had to be found and proved with all of the necessary testing involved in the practical applications to which the product would be put.

Building practices and regulations differed from one country to another and, in some cases, a product which would suit the UK market was not acceptable in others. The companies with good laboratory facilities and experienced chemists were in a better position the exploit these situations which many of them did successfully. The different markets into which licensees wished to sell products was usually dictated by previous experience and/or the involvement of their parent company in these markets.

In less well advanced environments potential customers had to be persuaded away from traditional methods of fixing, using well established, cheap systems, which was not an easy task.

As a matter of course there were exchange visits to licensees by Stafford personnel and to Stafford mainly by technical people but also by commercial and managerial staff in order to gain experience and to discuss market situations in the UK which could be compared with their own environment. Dr. Simon was always concerned about the extent of the technical knowledge being gained by overseas chemists on these visits and from their experience in their home markets, knowing that, in some instances, some would leave their present companies to put this experience to their own advantage. On numerous occasions he tried to persuade licensee companies to introduce a binding contract on their chemists but this was never implemented.

In order to address the necessity for trained chemists to work in their laboratories some licensees attracted Evode-based personnel on short- or long-term contracts. Typical examples were:-

Sometimes it was dire emergency which dictated recruitment of a chemist to fill a gap in an overseas company. After working for many years at Stafford Bryan Pease left to take up a post in Chicago. In the late 1960s Drecona, Canada found itself short of an experienced chemist and V. Vohralik persuaded Bryan to join Drecona where he stayed for a few years before returning to Stafford.

Keeping the licensees informed about what was going on at Stafford both technically and commercially was an ongoing task shared by the Licensee Co-ordination Department run by Mrs. Beryl Heath and by the Licensee Laboratory via which virtually daily contact was maintained with overseas companies. Mrs. Heath, relying on input from all of the technical departments on site, sales and marketing departments put together a publication called Evode International, issued usually about three times a year. Each volume contained a substantial amount of information and took a great deal of on site co-operation to put together.