Company History: Becoming a Modern Company
In 1975, Robin Kay took over O.Kay Engineering following the death that year of his father, Oates Kay, the company founder.
The 1970s were a strange time in Britain’s history, a decade of strife, strikes and poor productivity. At O.Kay Engineering, Robin – who had worked at the company since 1965 – managed to steer the business through these turbulent times while still growing the company’s product range.
Over the late 1970’s and into the 1980’s, the company focused on the waste paper market producing robust conveyors and mechanical handling equipment for the paper and board mills and paper recyclers. As a result, our products were popular for the first time up in Scotland, where so many of the mills were located.
As the recession hit the UK in the early 1980’s, Robin increased the company’s market potential by selling into Europe as well as Britain. A keen linguist and a highly affable man, Robin took to the roads of France, Holland, Belgium and Italy to sell his machines and guarantee turnover as other UK businesses failed.
Robin’s travels brought new insight into new ways of working and, as the Recession passed, he developed O.Kay’s first process plants. To us all now, they were only simple picking lines but, back then, they were hot property in the world of waste paper. Now paper could be sorted into grades.
These first sorting lines were a giant turning point for O.Kay because, as the years passed, the company grew massively through the supply of increasingly sophisticated sorting systems. What was then advanced in the waste paper market became suitable across the board for all waste.
All the while the company was growing in numbers: turnover, customers, installations, engineers and staff.
By the 1990’s the term MRF was born and O.Kay was at the forefront of their evolution and development in the UK. As better and more advanced component machines came to market, they were incorporated into the plants we provided so that our MRFs, as now, were the most efficient on the market.
With Robin’s daughters, Natalie and Antonia Kay, joining the business in the late 1990’s, the company remains securely held in family control for the future.
At present, we have grown our waste processing technology to cover MRFs and material sorting, SRF and RDF production, energy recovery, security shredding for data destruction and waste handling systems for retailers and those with distribution centres.
We are also constantly investing in ourselves: in robot welders, CNC machines, laser technology and in our engineers and staff so that our plant never loses its unique quality by remaining wholly in our control and designed by the best engineers.
Today we remain as excited about our business, as passionate about developing our quality products, and as animated about using them in new applications as we have ever been. Most of all, we remain as committed to our customers as our founder, Oates Kay, always wanted for his business.
‘Every customer is important to us. Serve them well and they will return.’
Oates Kay, 1973.
From those early days in the 1950s to now, O.Kay Engineering has never been out of family ownership and has always built its machines with great pride in their quality and in our service to customers.