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JA Harrison's History
 
J.A. Harrison & Co. (Manchester) Ltd. was founded in December 1900 by James Arthur Harrison, originally as metal founders, renting a small factory in the Ardwick/Longsight  area of Manchester, but also as mill furnishers, primarily serving  the Lancashire cotton industry.
 

In the early  1930’s the company relocated into larger premises closer to the city centre and at the same time came into the ownership of the Shepherd family.

 

During the Second World War and  although close to the city centre and  Piccadilly railway station… a certain target for Nazi bombing missions, the premises suffered only slight damage.

 

During this difficult period all male employees were required to be on “fire watch duty” throughout the night. At this time asbestos products were very much an essential part of the overall war effort and if a company could produce the goods, the orders were assured. 

 

With almost full staff during the nights and apart from essential “black outs” manufacture of a wide range of gaskets continued, virtually on a 24 hour basis, and urgent delivery schedules met.

 

In 1959 the company was served with a Compulsory Purchase Order on the premises and was forced to relocate to the Oxford Road area, and seven years later in 1966 when a further CPO was served, the decision to move into a  new purpose built single storey factory in the Cheetham Hill area of Manchester was made and is where the company is based to day.

 

In between this time J A Harrison took over Bradley & Wadsworth of Stockport in 1963. This company traded separately for some years but was subsequently absorbed into J A Harrison.

 

From 1966 the company continued until 1976 when the second generation took over the management, but differences of opinion between the Directors regarding future plans and policies prompted the outright purchase of the whole share capital in 1984 by Alan Shepherd and his two sons Keith and Martin. The financial structure of the company at this time was placed under severe strain but with determination and considerable effort, progressive development and investment took place and at the same time as the paper industry (a major customer at this time) was experiencing difficult trading, the company increased and strengthened the gasket manufacturing capacity, but continued to run it parallel to the long established mill furnishing products.

 

It is worth noting that the total number of employees at this time was eight.

 

In 1989 upon the impending closure of The Corrugated Joint Ring Co. Ltd. in Radcliffe, Lancashire  the opportunity to continue the manufacture of Brass and Stainless  Steel, Copper & Cupro- Nickel corrugated gaskets was secured by purchasing the serviceable plant and machinery, investing in new modern equipment, and continuing  with the manufacturing skills and experience of the then current employees.

 

This major investment fully complemented the existing soft gasket range and rapidly developed the company into one of the country’s leading gasket manufacturers.

 

Continued investment through the mid 1990’s was introduced, and  the well established Bolton company A.L.Rawsthorne & Co. manufacturers of “Manganesite” Jointing Compound consequent upon the retirement of the proprietor, was acquired ,and an office in Prague ,Czech Republic was opened trading under the name “Uniseal”

 

This branch of the company continues to develop under the direction of Mr. Peter Cikovsky.

 

Development during this period allied to the need for quality registration to ISO 2002, created its own problems in regard to manufacturing and storage, and being located in a key position in the city the decision was made to build on an additional first storey which effectively doubled the manufacturing area.

 

Construction started in November 1993 and was completed in June 1994, and N.Q.A. certification followed in November of the same year. Significantly by this time the number of employees had increased to 28.  

 

In addition to new markets in Europe resulting from progress in the Czech Republic, new business has been achieved  in E.U. countries, notably Germany,Spain and France but also in the Middle & Far East and America.

 

November 1998 saw the commissioning of a Barco Artios CAD/CAM Kongsberg Cutting Table (the first gasket cutting company to install this machine) and a further advanced similar model was brought into service in May 2002. Currently the company operate four such machines in addition to six manual, semi and fully automatic cutting presses.

 

In July 1999 the opportunity to purchase “Alliance & Heat Shield Engineering(South Wales) Ltd. based in Cardiff was taken and within the first year sales increased to the point where lack of space was the principal problem and the adjoining unit was acquired in The Timber Yard Industrial Estate doubling the previous manufacturing area available.

 

A Cutting Table has recently been commissioned and has proved invaluable in providing  the level of service our customers’ require. Turnover continues to increase and the number of employees has trebled to date.

 

A major decision was made towards the end of 2002 to expand into the manufacture of PTFE products and the machinery layout in the factory was completely reorganised to accommodate the state of the art machinery required to produce this new range of products.

 

In 2007 around the same time as agreement was reached with Avonmouth Gaskets to continue servicing their customers from either Cardiff or Manchester and stock transferred accordingly, this  PTFE division was relocated into  premises to the rear of Britain Works connecting to the main factory through the construction of a linking purpose built corridor. This additional production area provided the opportunity to invest further into machinery and personnel. This division currently operates 2 Bar Feed CNC machines, a Machining Centre, a CNC milling machine, 2 standard CNC Machines together with ovens and presses, an investment in excess of £500K. 

 

In February 2009 the company acquired South West Rubber and Plastics based in Devon bringing increased sales from a totally new customer base principally from that geographical and wider region.

 

In a joint venture with Halifax based V- Seal Ltd. in July 2009 a company has been established in Sharjah U.A.E. trading as Spira Power which is developing at a highly satisfactory level, returning monthly increased levels of profitability.

 

In December 2010 the company incorporated Acumen Seals into the group placing it in the forefront of sealing solutions to both large multinational and small niche market companies offering technically advanced mechanical seals of which large stocks are held in Manchester giving service all year round.

 

The company is now controlled by the third generation, employs sixty personnel and with teams of skilled, experienced and dedicated employees in Manchester, Cardiff and beyond the company is well placed for continued investment, development and expansion.

 

Give our Technical Gasket Advice team a call on 0161 832 2282.

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J A Harrison & Co Ltd
Britain Works
Greengate Industrial Estate
Greenside Way, Middleton
Manchester M24 1SW
Tel: 0161 832 2282
Fax: 0161 832 3263
E-mail: enquiries@jaharrison.co.uk
Alliance & Heatshield Engineering
Unit A1 South Point
Foreshore Road
Cardiff
CF10 4SP
Tel: 02920 463303
Fax: 02920 485883

P.O.Box: 390844, Unit 30, Street 22
Al Quoz Industrial Area 3, Dubai, U.A.E.

Tel: +971 4 3474688
Fax: +971 4 3474689

E-mail: info@spirapower.com

Web: www.spirapower.com

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