Chapter 6

New chemical products, needed as the war ends

Business was steadily expanding and it became an urgent necessity to return to Glover Street as soon as possible. At a meeting of Directors on 11th. January 1946 Dr. Simon announced that negotiations had taken place with West Midlands Joint Electricity Authority with a view to Evode acquiring a lease of the whole of the Glover Street premises. An offer had been made by this authority of a 5 year lease at an annual rental of £700.00. These conditions were acceptable to the company and the offer would be accepted.

At the 13th. A.G.M. held on 21st. January 1946 it was proposed that Mrs. I. F. Bostock and Mrs. D. Bostock be appointed as Directors of Evode Chemical Works Ltd. This proposition was accepted and passed.

In the year 1946 Evode employed three office staff, eleven polish and chemical workers, six waterproofing applicators and three salesmen. The hourly rates paid to these people varied between 10 pence and 1 shilling and one pence with those men working on waterproofing contracts earning well above the average pay due to the long hours worked. The net work force wage bill for the week at this time was £73-2s-7d.

By 27th. July 1946 the move back to Glover Street from Stone Road had been completed. At a meeting of Directors held on 13th. September Dr. Simon admitted that, for the past few months, the company had been unable to occupy all of the Glover Street premises. During the war the buildings had been used by the Ministry of Supply to store materials used by the Universal Grinding Wheel Co. (another firm located in Stafford) and this ministry had not complied with the directive to vacate the premises by the end of June. Consequently there had been a considerable shortage of manufacturing and storage room which had greatly hampered the progress of the company. A promise had been received that the final 200 tons of stores would be removed on 14th. September. However, he was concerned that, if there were further delays, the company`s own products, which had been stored outside, could be damaged by frost. The situation which had arisen had now been put into the hands of the company`s solicitors.

He presented a resume of the state of manufacturing within the company to the Directors. During the year the sales of polish had decreased considerably and those of chemicals had increased sharply. This was the first year that the company had achieves a credit balance.

The 7th. January 1947 was a memorable day for Hermann Simon. On this day he was granted citizenship of the United Kingdom. Also included in the grant was citizenship for his wife and daughters who were minors at this time, Marion Ruth and Petra being 12 and 11 years old.

Mrs. D. I. Wood, who had joined the company in 1932 and became a Director and Secretary of the company in 1937, tendered her resignation quoting health reasons for doing so. She had served the company loyally particularly during the period when Dr. Simon and Mr. Forman were detained in the Isle of Man. In this period she had assumed the responsibilities of managing the company which included becoming involved with the manufacture of shoe polishes. She would remain a Director of the company and she was thanked for her devotion by Dr. Simon.

At this date also, Mr. H. E. Hadley, who had recently joined the company, was appointed as Secretary. The directors at this meeting approved a proposal that Hermann Simon be appointed as Chairman of the Company.

In March 1947, Mr. Cyril Lawton, who had been released from service with the Royal Air Force and who had become Dr. Simon`s first employee in 1938, returned to the company. His primary task was to set up a small paint laboratory to assist in the exploitation of the market for paints which Dr. Simon was anxious to encourage. In Germany he had produced a chlorinated rubber paint which had outstanding weather and chemical resistance and he felt that this would be an ideal product for use in the British market and should be vigorously promoted. The product was called Chlorinated Rubber Paint, Green.

In conversation with the Bostocks (who were also directors of Lotus Shoes) Dr. Simon realised that the shoe industry was already facing bonding problems with the use of rubber resin compositions and other raw materials developed during the war (but for other purposes). This problem applied particularly to the manufacture of shoe soling. Adhesives currently available on the market would not perform this task adequately. He was aware that, in the U.S.A. during the war, work on synthetic rubbers had made impressive progress. It was necessary to obtain more information about the progress made and, possibly, form an association with an American adhesives manufacturer who was already exploiting this market. In early June it was learned that an American company, Angiers Products Inc., of Massachusetts, was looking for a British company to manufacture their adhesives under license. Following discussions between Angiers and Evode it was agreed, on the 30th. June, that adhesives, initially for the shoe trade, would be manufactured by Evode and distributed to the shoe trade solely by Vik Supplies Ltd. This agreement was signed and sealed in September.

Following the signing of the agreement information on formulations, manufacturing processes, sourcing ingredients etc. began to arrive at Stafford from Angiers. Plans for constructing a two gallon churn based on the information received were passed to a local engineering company and in December 1947 Mr. Lawton tried to produce an adhesive based on the information.

The results indicate what can happen when attempting to introduce an unfamiliar process based on enthusiasm and primary ignorance. It was a disaster from the beginning. The first attempt was to make a rubber solution that used scrap, crepe soling rubber supplied by Lotus. The strips of rubber, measuring 1 inch by 6 inches, were much too large for the design of the machine to cope with successfully and eventually, as the solution thickened, these pieces of rubber became jammed between the mixing arms inside the churn and the load on the electric motor driving the machine caused considerable damage which was deemed too costly to repair. The problem was partially corrected by installing a more powerful electric motor and fitting the churn with a car starting handle which could be used to provide human assistance whenever the electric motor could not turn the mixing arms.

A number of rubber solutions were made in this manner for trials at Lotus and an application was made to register the trade mark “Evo-Stik”.

The Directors report for the year ending 1947 shows a satisfactory increase in the profits.

On 9th. February 1948 Dr. Simon reported that negotiations had been completed for the use by the company of offices at 10, Stratford Place, W1 as a London Office for Evode Chemical Works Ltd.

English Waxes Ltd. was incorporated into Evode Chemical Works Ltd. on 19th. February by agreement with the Board of Trade and would, from 1st. March 1949, handles the sales of shoe polishes, creams, adhesives and cements to Lotus Ltd. and its subsidiary companies.

At the 15th. AGM held in March 1948, Dr. Simon announced that Mr. Elias Peake had been appointed as a full time chemist and that his first assignment would be to fly to the USA to visit Angiers to discuss the problems Evode had met with the churn which had been built to their design. His discussions with Angiers appear to have been successful and he returned with what was now regarded as the correct engineering specification. From these drawings a number of 250 gallon churns were produced.

As works chemist Mr. Peake was responsible for the production of adhesives made to the formulations provided by Angiers. However he first had to carry out a considerable amount of work on these formulations in order to utilise raw materials available in this country, having just emerged from a long and costly war and imports of any kind were drastically restricted. This is a problem which will become apparent at a later date when Evode began to appoint Licensees. In these early days he was able to provide enthusiasm and showed wonderful ability to improvise his way out of many difficulties which frequently occurred. His relationship with many of the workmen employed in the factory was unique and he was greatly respected for his authority and knowledge and he played an enormous part in establishing the adhesives division of the company.

At the same time at which Elias Peake was appointed the employment of Mr. John Arnott was announced and he would become a member of the Polishes Department, beginning his employment with the company on 1st. May. Dr. Simon had considered that, for some time, it was necessary for the company to establish a permanent London Office with a Manager who could make contact with architects and authorities responsible for overseas contracts for building work. Mr. Eric Barnes was appointed as an Export Sales Manager to oversee such work, his aim being to ensure that these companies would include the use of Evode products in their specifications.

Following the cessation of hostilities Dr. Simon had been visiting the Continent to renew his contacts with business acquaintances. He was confident that Evode now had many products in its range which could be exported or, in conjunction with the appropriate partner, be manufactured overseas. It was necessary to find enthusiastic agents or licensees who could sell and distribute these products or, where necessary, to manufacture them to a given specification. The first partner to be appointed was Tito Pereira De Sousa in Lisbon, Portugal who would manufacture and distribute building chemicals, particularly “Mellitol”.

A meeting of Directors was held on 4th. February 1949 at which Mrs. Hildegard Ruth Simon was appointed as a Director of the company.

At the 16th. AGM held in June it was reported that business in 1948 had been, on the whole, satisfactory with the exception of the section of the company which handled polishes. Changes in sales policy would have to be considered. The proposition was to arrange distribution of the products to the retail trade and abandon that of supplying to the wholesale trade as had been the policy in the past. Sales of polishes were now being handled by English Waxes Ltd.

The manufacture of adhesives had now been mastered and was progressing well. As the company had extended the range of products being manufactured it was felt that now was the time to change the name of the company to reflect this fact. Accordingly, at an Extraordinary General Meeting held on 14th. June 1949, it was proposed that the company name should be changed to Evode Ltd. The suggestion was adopted.

In late 1949 the company had advertised for the employment of polish workers. This was misinterpreted as Polish workers. There was a considerable enclave of such nationals in the Stafford area having been settled in the district after the war had ended and they having expressed the desire not to return to their country of origin due to the political situation. Under these circumstances Mr. Ted Wojulewicz was interviewed, accepted and joined the company on 2nd. November. He was the first of many Polish people to be employed by the company and, by 1955, the bituminous emulsion factory was being operated entirely by a Polish labour force with Ted at their head.

Although an Export office had been established and some products were being sold to overseas companies it was accepted that employing people with the marketing and language skills to serve these markets would be a very expensive exercise. Dr. Simon was aware that if it was possible to establish contact with a suitable foreign partner who could reliably manufacture a range of products made by Evode to the company specifications it would be possible to enter into a licensee arrangement with that company. This would generate royalties for the company but also engage people native to the market who knew how it worked and with the necessary language skills.

Consequently the first company to enter into an agreement of this kind with Evode was Evoy Osakeyhtio which was managed by Mr. Emmanuel Walden in Finland. The agreement was signed on 16th.December 1949, laying out terms and conditions of the license, covering the manufacturing process of specified adhesives, a range of protective paints and building chemicals and formulations. Technical help for the production and uses of these products was offered by Evode when this was required. As Evode grew and progressed the number of overseas licensees and wholly owned subsidiaries increased. It has already been pointed out that, when Evode took the license from Angiers Products Inc. to manufacture adhesives, problems arose trying to source raw materials in the UK. This aspect also became a considerable problem with the licensees in overseas markets. and will be expanded upon later.

During the lifetime of Dr. Simon 13 licensees in Europe were appointed to manufacture a range of adhesives, paints and building chemicals, 12 were given the rights in countries further afield and two wholly owned subsidiaries were established in Ireland and Canada.

A considerable document has been produced incorporating all of these companies, and this can be consulted on the Evode History Project website.