Chapter 8

Prelude to becoming a Public Company

1957 saw Evode Ltd. reach its 25th. anniversary and a presentation was made to Hermann Simon on behalf of the staff and factory employees to mark the occasion.

In October 1957 Mr. Barrie Liss, the husband of Dr. Simon`s eldest daughter, Marion, was appointed Personal Assistant to Dr. Simon. He subsequently worked within the Evode Group in various capacities for 37 years and at one time was Joint Managing Director of the Evode Group of companies.

At the 25th. AGM held in March 1958 the Chairman stated that, due to the Suez crisis, progress had been restricted and costs had risen Consequently a certain amount of reorganisation within the company was necessary.

Mr. S. B. Knowlden joined the company in June to take the post of Export Sales Manager with an office in London. He was to be responsible for the appointment of overseas agents who would sell and distribute Evode products on a commission basis and would come under the direction of Mr. Beaumont. The combined contributions now being received by the company from licensees and agents were a substantial part of the company turnover.

In September at a General Meeting of the Directors it was proposed that the share capital of the company should be increased to £200,000.00. Following this, on 17th. December, an offer was made to Lotus Ltd. to purchase the balance of the Vik Supplies Ltd. shares.

Work commenced on the building of a new laboratory block The original building, which was used as a canteen, was extended and an upper floor was added.

In 1959 English Waxes Ltd. went into voluntary liquidation and was then immediately incorporated as a new company of the same name.

In October of this year land which was leased to Evode Ltd. near to Glover Street was offered to Thermo Accoustic Products Ltd. for a period of two years and three months at a rent of £690.00 per annum.

Evode Ltd. was now administering the Vik Supplies business. Some of the companies to which products were sold were falling behind in their settlement of accounts. Mr. David Williams was therefore authorised to establish proof of debts against those concerns which had failed to meet their obligations and file bankruptcy petitions against debtors of Vik Supplies Ltd.

At an extraordinary General Meeting of Directors in 1960 it was proposed that the share capital of the company be increased to £300,000.00 by the creation of 100,000 preference shares at £1.00 each.

As the volume and scope of the company business grew Dr. Simon spent a considerable amount of his time travelling to foreign countries visiting licensees, potential customers and agents. Although letters and telephone calls were cumbersome, John Forman was able to keep Dr. Simon well informed.

The site at Common Road was now progressing from the point of view of erecting buildings to accommodate the various types of products being made. One such was the adhesives factory on which work had now commenced and would soon be in a position where it could be occupied.

Simvic Ltd., a finance company which was formed to deal with the hire and leasing of machinery, came into being at this time.

The company continued to grow and in the early months of 1961 Sales Conferences incorporating the sales staff of the various divisions of the company were held. These included those of Vik Supplies Ltd., Building Chemicals, Surface Coatings and the Adhesives Division. At the end of the 1960/61 financial year a memo was sent to all representatives by Dr. Simon congratulating all those of the sales forces who had made a contribution to a record sales year.

In late August of this year the Surface Coatings Division moved from the premises in Glover Street to Common Road occupying the factory which had originally been built to accommodate the manufacture of adhesive compounds. The new adhesives factory had been completed in late July together with the garage which serviced cars owned by the company and the maintenance building which housed the personnel who looked after the manufacturing equipment.

As is appreciated in a development of the kind which Evode was in the process of undergoing, budgets have to be constantly kept under scrutiny and very little is achieved at the original cost projected. Dr. Simon, therefore, wrote to all of the Buildings Chemical representatives advising them that conversion of the Paints Division to Common Road and the building of a new varnish kitchen had cost the sum of £15,000.00. Thus a greater effort was required from all involved to increase the sales of the paint products made by the company.

The beginning of the year 1962 was not a happy one for the Simon family. Fifteen months earlier, Hildegard had been diagnosed with breast cancer. She died on 7th. January aged 53. Her funeral and cremation were held at the crematorium at Bushbury, Wolverhampton. It was a great shock to the family. Dr. Simon was in mourning and wore a black armband for 12 months but did not withdraw completely from the company.

Dr. Simon had plans to float Evode Ltd. as a public company, but before this could be done it was necessary to divest, from the Evode Group, the loss making company English Waxes which made a range of polishes mainly for shoes, based on the original products made by Spic & Span. The retail market for shoe and furniture polishes was very competitive and did not warrant the high investment needed in 1962. It was therefore decided to sell the company.. Polishes and polishing cloths were taken over by The Prestige Group and the shoe polish business was acquired by Kiwi.

In June of 1962 the leasehold premises occupied by Vik Supplies Ltd. on Sandon Road were partially destroyed by fire. Consequently the operations of this company were to be transferred to a new factory extension to be erected on some of the surplus land owned by Evode which was adjacent to the present factory. The completed factory was estimated to cost £150,000.00 and it was expected to be available for occupation by the end of 1963.

The Paints Division also began operations on this site during the course of the year and Evode (Northern Ireland) Ltd. was formed to compliment the activities of Evode Industries in Eire.

On 6th. February of that year Warburg Registrars announced in the national press that Evode Holdings Ltd. had made an application to the Stock Exchange for permission to deal in 1,400,000 shares of the company. Employees were given priority in the application for shares which were then made available to the public.

During the course of the year the company was floated on the Stock Exchange and became Evode Holdings Ltd., which had approximately 2,000 share holders many of whom were employees of the company. The plans were to sell 575,000 Evode 4 shilling shares at 20 shillings per share. 1,556,747 shares would remain in the hands of Dr. Simon and others giving them a 73% controlling interest in the company.

On 18th. March Dr. Simon addressed senior members of the Evode Group Management Committee stressing the importance of all management to strive for improvements and greater efficiency due to trading conditions becoming more difficult. Since May 1962 a firm of consultants had been engaged in studying the organisational relationship within the company. Dr. Cabot of this firm had now completed the basic work and would address all senior personnel on his programme for the future.

Sometime in late 1963 photographs of the original home of the company, Glover Street, were taken and it was evident that the buildings were now deteriorating rapidly. However those which had been occupied in the preparation of polishes and chemicals as well as the offices could still be recognised.

At the annual dance of the company held on 27th. December at the Borough Hall in Stafford, a presentation was made to Dr. Simon which came a surprise to him. He was quite unaware that a painting of himself had been prepared by Mr. John Bird, the Publicity manager of Evode Ltd., from a portrait taken earlier in the year. Additionally a painting of the old office block in Glover Street, which had been commissioned from Mr. David Lewis, member of the College of Arts in Stafford, was given to him by his old friend Mr. John Forman. In doing so Mr. Forman added the words that when you reflect on this painting you will not only remember the toil, tears and sweat which were our fairly regular companions in those days, but also the small band of your loyal friends who have remained with you throughout fair weather and foul and whose regard for you is high.

At this gathering of the staff of Evode a custom was begun by Mr. Forman, which exists to the present day, when Dr Simon was presented with an inscribed badge in commemoration of his 25 years service with the company which had been specially prepared for Mr. Forman, who also adopted the badge as an emblem of this period of service, he being the vice chairman of the group and Dr. Simon the Chairman. Mr. Cyril Lawton, who was the first employee to be engaged by Dr. Simon, also received a badge to recognise 25 years of service. Today there a many of the past and current employees of the company who have joined this august band and these badges are worn with pride, together with the “25 Year Club” ties, at the annual dinner held for this group.

Dr. Simon had always bourne in mind the welfare of the people who worked within the Group and, during the year the Evode Pension Trust Ltd. was formed and, in memory of his late wife, Hildegard Ruth Simon, he set up The Hildegard Simon Memorial Trust Ltd. This trust, using the personal financial resources of Dr. Simon and Messrs. James and Godfrey Bostock, was set up to help any of the Evode employees who found themselves temporarily in financial difficulties through unforeseen problems of health, bereavement or similar circumstances.

The “Meetings of Directors” which has been quoted on many occassions in this biography was replaced by “Meeting of the Group Management Committee”. At a later stage the title of this group was change to “The Board of Management”.