Chapter 9

Overseas developments and changes to the management structure of Evode

In order to take advantage of the new technologies and chemicals being introduced into the market Evode developed and introduced a number of novel products for the adhesives industry among which were Evo-Stik Resin “W”, a polyvinyl acetate based product for use on wood products and a One Way Wet adhesive, a neoprene rubber based product which did not require the substrates to be bonded to be left open for the solvent it contained to evaporate.

Dr. Simon had always been active in exploring the posibilities of introducing Evode products into markets overseas. To this end he collaborated with The Electric Reduction Company of Canada, a subsidiary company of Albright and Wilson, Oldbury, England, to form Ercona Adhesives of Canada which, as a partly owned subsidiary of Evode, would manufacture and distribute a range of adhesives within Canada. Another acquisition was Cox & Wright, founded in Rushden, Northamptonshire in 1947, where it manufactured machinery for the shoe industry, it having previously co-operated with Vik Supplies Ltd., giving it a complementary role in the activities of the Evode Group.

For some time the company had been active in Ireland, participating in the manufacture of a range of adhesives in a factory owned by another company. In 1968 Evode Industries was formed and became a wholly owned subsidiary of Evode Holdings. In September of this year it became a wholly owned company in its own right. In this period also the building contractors, Sandy & Co. Ltd. was acquired as a partly owned associate. Another addition to the Evode Group of Companies was the purchase of Allweather Paints Ltd. This company was formed in 1947and in 1962 it acquired Agraphite Ltd., a manufacturer of chlorinated rubber paints, which was of interest to Evode. The Evode Paints Division was subsumed into Allweather Paints Ltd. to form Evode Allweather Paints.

While these acquisitions were taking place an internal reorganisation was felt to be necessary in order to make the company organisation more efficient. The Merchant Sales Division was launched, Evo-Stik Industrial Division and the Evo-Stik Marketing Division were formed into the Industrial Division and the Buildings Chemical Division became the Buildings Chemical & Bitumen Division.

An old friend and long standing colleague of Dr. Simon, Mr. Edwin Beaumont, who had served in the London office as the sales director and had supervised sales to overseas companies decided to retire from the boards of Evode Ltd. and Evomastics Ltd. To honour the occasion a retirement luncheon was held in March 1968.

At this time the number of overseas licensees appointed to make products manufactured by Evode was considerable, seven were located in mainland Europe alone, with a further wholly owned company in Ireland and a partially owned subsidiary in Canada. As Evode found when they took a license from Angiers Products Inc. considerable time and effort was required to produce adhesives made with chemicals available in the UK or could be economically purchased and using the equipment existing or acquired by Evode. When negotiating the license with these companies Dr. Simon had undertaken to support them with technical help in order to make economically efficient products suitable to their markets and for the methods of use in their markets. These licensees required considerable servicing.

While the expertise of the Evode chemists and marketing personnel had always been at their disposal, a dedicated person or laboratory had never been available within the organisation. The intention was to pay periodic visits to licensees to advise them on the type of equipment they had to manufacture the products, to discuss the availability of raw materials, which had to be tested and approved for use at Stafford and to understand how the products were used in the various markets which differed quite considerably from the UK practice. Dr. Simon and the Technical Director Vasec Vohralic were quite aware of these problems and, in order to provide an improved service to these overseas associates, the Licensee Laboratory was formed which would be dedicated to the needs of these companies which generated a considerable revenue for Evode.

Previously a special department called The Licensee Co-Ordination Department had been established in order to keep the overseas companies aware of the activities at Stafford. Every quarter, in a publication called Evode International, they were updated on current prices for the products being sold in the UK, availability of raw materials, new products and methods of manufacture, product sales successes in specific countries and industries, new customers, design of new product labels used on Evode materials, product data sheets and any other information which could be of help to them. It was also regarded as a media for licensees to contact each other where they could be of mutual help.

The management structure of the company was re-organised. The Board of Management was replaced with The Board of Directors, The Group Co-Ordination Committee, was abolished and replaced by The Operating Group for Sales, Factory and Canteen. This latter move was considered appropriate as the canteen of Evode Ltd. at Common Road was opened.

By the year 1969 Werner & Mertz, the licensees in West Germany, had taken the decision not to renew their arrangement with Evode Ltd. It has to be admitted that they were a very competent company in the manufacture and sales of those products licenced from Evode and probably felt that they had sufficient knowledge and expertise to become independent. Simson B.V., the licensee in Holland, consequently formed Batu Chemiewaren Produktions to sell products into the West German market and this company became a partly owned associate of Evode Ltd.

In the middle of 1970 Dr. Simon was obliged to enter hospital for surgery to repair a damaged Achilles tendon. He returned to his office relatively quickly on 25th. July but it was some weeks before he became fully mobile. In this year also, on 30th. October, he celebrated his 70th. birthday. For that occasion a bust of himself, commissioned from Stuart Osborne of Stafford, was unveiled and presented to him by Mr. John Forman in the presence of his family.

As Chairman of the Evode Group of Companies, Hermann Simon was a much travelled man. During the period 1970-1971 he attended a Board Meeting of Ercona Adhesives in Toronto, visited the licensees, Evo-Mex in Mexico, passed through Brazil to visit the licensees in Argentina, Chemotecnica Sintyal and then flew to South Africa. While in this part of the world he spent a week-end at “Treetops”, made famous because this was the place where Princess Elizabeth and the Duke of Edinburgh were staying when her father died and she became Queen. He followed this with a visit to Nairobi and spent time on safari around Murchinson Falls in Uganda. Some of the travel in this area was by flying from grass runways in a DC3 aircraft, known to the British in World War II as the Dakota.

He combined a visit to the Dutch licensees, Simson and Batu in October 1971 with a trip to Ferrara in Italy which was the home of Evode`s Italian licensee Ditta Fratelli Zucchini. The purpose of these festivities were twofold. They celebrated the seventieth birthday of Mr. Giovanni Zucchini, who the doctor had known for many years, and also it was the Fiftieth Jubilee of the association of the two brothers Zucchini, Giovanni and Alfredo. Time was also taken for Dr. Simon to visit the Building Exhibition in Bologna where Zucchini had an excellent stand.

While the doctor was on his travels matters were not stationary at Stafford. As previously stated Evode had decided to abandon the business of manufacturing shoe polishes and the remainder of “Dove” polish was disposed of. Evacor Resins Ltd. was formed as a partly owned associate in collaboration with an American company the Terrell Corporation. The company manufactured resins based on polyamides which were used for bonding a wide range of substrates. In Canada the Dickinson Robinson Group acquired a controlling interest in Ercona Adhesives Ltd. which had previously been owned by Albright and Wilson. The Evode Group retained their share capital in the company and at a later date it was renamed as Drecona Industries Ltd.

1972 saw the end of a long and happy relationship between Hermann Simon and John Forman. He retired at the age of 62 after 39 years of service The occasion was fittingly marked. (See JJEF autobiography).

The pace of change continued at Stafford in 1972. 4.438 acres of land adjoining the Common Road site was purchased from Stafford Borough Council for the purpose of building a Sports and Social Club. Re-organisation of the companies within the group was also progressing. Evode Waterproofing Systems Ltd. which sold and applied roof waterproofing materials, mastics and sealants was formed and established a contracting service to apply these materials. Cox & Wright (Pneumatics) Ltd. was formed and Louis Holt (Chemicals) Ltd. was acquired. This company complimented the interests of Vik Supplies Ltd. within the shoe industry and it was bought to increase the market share in footwear components. At a later date the two companies were merged. Sadly, on the day that Evode acquired Louis Holt, a fire destroyed the factory where they were based in Enderby, Leicestershire and a new factory had to be built. Evode had for many years done business with Colin D. Bailey (Pty) Ltd. in South Africa. This company was acquired as a partly owned associate.

This year also saw the transfer to Stafford of the role played by the London Office. It was felt that its main function now was export business consequently the office was closed. Mr. Tony Knowlden, the export manager, came to Stafford. A new company would be established called Evode (Export) Ltd. based at Stafford. Mr. T.Q.D. Dunlop was appointed as the Managing Director reporting to Dr. Simon. The existing Export Sales despatch department was incorporated into the new company and, in due course, export sales staff and supporting technical staff were added to this facility.

As with all dynamic, private companies matters did not stay the same for very long. The year 1973 saw quite a number of changes and developments.

Evode Inc. was incorporated in the United States of America. This company was set up to market and distribute Evo-Stik Flashband, which was a bitumen based aluminium tape used in the building industry, within the United States. At a later date a separate distribution company known as the 3E Corporation was established. In France Dia-Prosim, the Evode licensee, took the decision to relinquish its manufacturing license. In its place Evo-France was formed initially as a sales company but it had an option to manufacture Evode products at a later date.

Drecona Industries Ltd. Canada, which had been a jointly owned company between Albright & Wilson and Evode and latterly with the Dickinson Robinson Group was acquired by the Evode Group as a wholly owned company. It became apparent that the licensee in Japan, Sale Tilney, wished to end its contract with Evode Ltd. as a manufacturing licensee. A study was therefore carried out to asses Evode`s future participation in the Japanese adhesives and mastics market.

At Stafford changes were also taking place, both internally and externally. Sandy & Co. (Contractors) Ltd. was sold. The Industrial Adhesives Division (which also incorporated the Evo-Stik Industial Division and the Evo-Stik Marketing Division) was renamed the Industrial Division. The Building Chemicals and Bitumen Division also became the Building Division. Evomastics Ltd. was no longer operational.

In the New Years honours list for 1974 Dr. Hermann Simon was appointed Commander of the British Empire for his services to Export. This award made him extremely gratified to have become a British citizen in the country of his adoption. He attended Buckingham Palace on Tuesday 15th March for the investiture and receive his honour from Her Majesty The Queen. In accepting the honour he was adamant that this award was not only a recognition of his work but that of all of his colleagues at Evode. At that time he was Chairman or Managing Director of eighteen companies and in addition to having gained a doctorate in Chemical Engineering at Stuttgart University he also held the honour of MInstBE and had been the Chairman of the British Rubber and Resin Adhesives Manufacturers Association, of which he was a founder member.

It was during this year that the current Conservative Government was confronted with a strike by workers in the coalmines lead by Arthur Scargill. Many of the electricity power stations which provided power to industry and the home consumer were fired by coal and shortage of coal led to electricity being rationed and available to all at very limited periods. This led to the “three day week” when products could be made only when power was available. The prices of many of the raw materials used by Evode in the manufacture of adhesives and sealants fluctuated by the day if not by the hour. Laboratory staff spent a huge period of their time recosting products due to this situation. Without the available power staff found it impossible to work and on some days manufacturing could only be done at weekends. Consequently people found themselves attending work on a Saturday or Sunday. Distribution of the products which could be made was also significantly restricted due to the effect which the situation was having on the availability of petrol and its consumption by the traffic fleet.

Nevertheless, Evode maintained its policy of continued research and development to introduce new and improved products to the market and constantly updated the equipment on which these products were made. Amongst these new products which were launched in 1974 were Thermaflo hot melt adhesives in slug form to facilitate assembly operations, Evo-Stik Polka, a unique double-sided pressure sensitive adhesive in dot form for use in the newspaper industry and design studios and Evo-Stik Hi-White Ceramic Tile Adhesive range for the professional and DIY markets.

With the “three day week” resolved re-organisation within the group continued. The Building Division became the Building and Consumer Products Division, E.H. Management Services was formed as was Evode Vel-Tex Ltd. Some companies which Evode regarded as superfluous to their present requirements were disposed of, these being Cox & Wright and Cox & Wright (Pneumatics) Ltd.