Charles J Marshall (Aberdeen) Ltd celebrates its 70th Anniversary in 2021. Seventy years ago, the Marshall brand was conceived by Charles J Marshall; the year was 1952. This tenacious 18-year-old apprentice joiner decided that after his National Service, he would establish his own business producing something that he could sell en-masse. At this time in history the introduction of the new technically advanced tractor was just in its infancy and the young Charles decided this was his time to capitalize on this opportunity.
While he was posted in Aberdeen, he was able to combine army national service throughout theday while building trailers at night; no mean feat but a win/win situation for this young man. His initial modest ambition was to build himself a factory to supply the whole of Scotland and to be the largest supplier in this territory!
To achieve this goal some land and a small croft were purchased, just 6 miles from Aberdeen. Charles managed to secure this at the cost of £2,450. Needless to say his current long suffering neighbours were delighted as they had endured years of noise and constant TV interference from power tools used by this enthusiastic young man.
By 1956 the first part of the present factory building was completed, named Chapel Works, it covered a 12,000 sq. ft. site. True to form, the young Charles supervised and even poured the concrete blocks by hand to ensure that the best value was achieved from his investment. The greatest advantage to his new factory layout was the ability to create the relatively new concept of a production line that allowed for the most efficient use of labour; always an expensive commodity and not to be wasted! Although said tongue in cheek, Charles quickly realised that labour was an essential requirement but had to be used efficiently so the production line was integral to this.
Then as today, Charles invested heavily in his business and purchased vast stocks of steel and other components. This gave him the added advantage of being able to buy at very competitive prices and so produce a more cost effective trailer. The knock on result from this strategy was a rapid expansion of turnover allowing him to further develop the factory premises.
By this stage he was employing all the trades required to manufacture steel and timber trailers. Production output had rocketed up from a mere 46 units built in 1952 to supplying well over 1600 units per year by the mid sixties - no small feat for a joiner!
Equipment was another area of investment that was expanded to keep up with rising demand. A new press brake and guillotine were purchased, the largest north of the Clyde at that time! Likewise, the shrewd move away from the “slow” arc welders to the latest concept of MIG welders also proved to be a winning formula for speeding up production. Nothing was going to hold him back from achieving his original ambition!
The 1970s were the years of strike action and horrendous labour relations and Charles was extremely proud of the fact that he never had a strike and his factory still produced throughout this period. This result, he firmly believes, came from his own work ethic and the fact that even at this stage in business; he worked a full day with his staff on the shop floor. No job was too menial for Charles and no task was asked to be undertaken that he could or would not do himself.
Now producing well over 2000 units per year and with an extremely efficient factory, his focus turned to rotary spreaders to continue to increase production. Once again these spreaders were distributed throughout the country and in partnership with an extensive dealer network that he worked hard to supply. The success of the spreader was further augmented by the introduction of the Marshall slurry tanker in the 1980s.
In 1980 the bright new talent of Charles Richard was introduced and he started his apprenticeship within the firm. Like his father before him, he also worked his way through the shop floor ensuring he had the same sound understanding of the business as his father and today he feels that nothing really
beats the experience gained from doing it yourself.
Taking up his present position as managing director in 1998; he has successfully steered the company through the years of BSE and
foot and mouth. Like his father before him, he still operates the firm on a daily basis handling all the purchasing, sales, after service and the general management required for a company of this size to function.
Throughout its 70 year history, no answer phones have ever been used and Charles R is still fully committed to the fact that customers are what make a business. All this “modern” rubbish of electronically answered phones, emails, faxes, texts are the downfall of many a business as it seems the customer is no longer important enough to be spoken to directly, a position that will never change as long as Charles is in charge.
Today we are still proud of our original Chapel Works premises and we continue to invest and annually spend six figure sums to ensure we stay ahead of our competition. We produce on average 46 units per week that are sold throughout the world and we can now proudly boast we are the UK’s oldest and largest trailer manufacturer.
2016 was a sad year for the company as the founder, Charles J Marshall, passed away suddenly at the age of 81. Charles was an inspiring presence and even until the week before falling ill he was still working and doing what he loved; selling to customers and delivering machines. He certainly left his mark on the world, and will be sorely missed by the family and everyone at Marshall Trailers.
Despite the sad news the company has to continue on and this year we celebrate 70 years in the business and we are proud to be manufacturing trailers and other farm machinery. Perhaps what is more remarkable is the fact that we are still owned and operated by the same family; quite a feat if we say so ourselves! Ten years ago the company also welcomed the next generation into the fold. The grandsons of Charles J Marshall, namely Charles Peter and his brother David, have now completed their studies. Charles successfully achieved a LLB Hons in Law and graduated from Aberdeen University while his brother achieved Student of the Year at Lackham College in Wiltshire passing a BTEC with triple distinction in land based technology. Since joining the business the pair of them have been kept busy with various different roles throughout the company; there is no better way for them to learn than to do it themselves!
In any family business the younger generation always brings fresh ideas and enthusiasm to the company, and Charles and David have been no different. They have had a huge influence on the business and encouraged many of the changes introduced in the last few years. These changes are clear to see in the finish and quality of the final product, but the really radical changes have been with how the product is produced! We have borrowed 21st century production methods from the motor-industry, that rely on better integrating our state of the art plasma cutters, presses and robot welders into the production line. The end results are machines that are better looking and better finished every time!
"Now there should be no excuse not to consider a Marshall machine; a family business with traditional values producing a modern, state of the art product!“
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