Company History

Company History

Our business was named after our founder Oates Kay (who was himself named after the heroic Captain Oates of the Antarctic).

Oates opened the doors to his company in 1950 calling it O.Kay Engineering Services Ltd. He started the company because he was an engineer filled with big dreams and an entrepreneur’s spirit.  He had served with the RAF Engineers during the war and then worked as area manager for Evans Lifts (now Otis).

In 1950, he opened a general fabrication unit and manufactured various parts and machines for customers.  Very quickly he made his reputation for producing robust products of dependable quality. As word spread, Dewsbury Council got in touch to see if Oates would build them a conveyor to feed a Powell baler for their salvage (or waste, as it is better known today).

This, though no one knew it at the time, was a defining moment in our company history.

The conveyor Oates built them was so well-received by Dewsbury Council that their neighbours, Wakefield Council, contacted him immediately to say they too would like one.  Soon after, Judd Brothers of Glasgow and Walsend ordered one each for their two branches.  And so a legend was born.

From that starting point, O.Kay Engineering has gone on to build tens of thousands of conveyors for the UK, across Europe, and is now one of the world’s best conveyor manufacturers.

Oates went on to become a well-known figure in the world of waste handling.  He was a man of great humour and, away from work, loved fishing and entertaining.  His wife, Alice, could make any one smile within minutes of meeting her.  Together they grew the company so that it came to offer a full range of conveyors to a growing set of customers including local authorities, paper merchants, paper and board mills, printers and the waste market.

When Oates died in 1975, the church was too full to accommodate all the customers, suppliers, friends and family who came to pay their respects to a much loved and respected man.

But, for O.Kay Engineering, it was only the beginning and, under the stewardship of Oates’s son, Robin Kay, who took over in 1975, it took its first steps into process engineering and becoming a major plant builder… read more

Oates Kay

1908 Born in Haslingden, Lancashire UK

1925 Qualifies as a mechanical, electrical and water engineer

1939 Marries Alice Ryder of Bacup, Lancashire, UK

1940-45 Serves at RAF Cranwell setting up spotter lights on local churches to guide in returning aircraft. Many of these lights are still in use today.

1946 Begins work at Evans Lifts in Leicester, UK

1947 Is made area manager for the North for Evans Lifts, UK

1950 Oates starts his own engineering business calling it O.Kay Engineering Services Ltd.

1952 Dewsbury Council ask Oates to build them a salvage conveyor to feed a Powell baler

1952 Macclesfield Council ask Oates for an identical machine

1953 Judd Brothers ask Oates for two identical machines

1953 O.Kay Engineering focuses upon a timeless quest to provide highest-quality conveyors for all applications.

1973 Oates Kay dies