Our origins stem from Victorian times, when the exciting properties of natural rubber were being developed by Joseph Macintosh. Resulting in the famous rubber vulcanised canvas material that enabled tarpaulins to become waterproof and the creation of his waterproof clothing known as “Mack’s.” Although John Hadlow Martin founded our company in 1865, his father Robert’s trade was that of “Waterproofer.” So clearly the Martins were dealing in rubber products well before our company was established. In those days, the principle stock was rubber sheeting, hoses, gaskets, surgical and novelty goods and waterproof garments for seafaring – hence our enduring location adjacent to Southampton Docks.
EDWARDIAN MARTIN’S RUBBER
The Martins owned the business until the First World War. After which, it passed through various hands until Bert Campbell joined the business in 1936, retaining the Martins’ trading name. Bert was an innovator and moved the company further into manufacturing, as well as continuing to stock standard products and accessories. World War 2 provided many challenges. The bombing of the city meant that precious material stocks were stored at Bert’s house beyond the city limits, in the hope that they would be safer there than in the city centre. Wartime also demanded a rapid acceleration in the scope and capabilities of the company.
After World War II
Bert Campbell expanded the company in the 1950s, building a new factory for the business in Orchard Place. He also acquired the adjoining Atlantic Motor Garage and turned it into a large rubber moulding shop, with presses he designed and built himself. Brian Hooper joined the company in 1956, having married Bert’s elder daughter Pauline. His skills as a marine engineer added significantly to the expertise of Martin’s. Some of his products for the Defence and Nuclear industries are still being manufactured here today. In the 1980s, Paul and Adam Hooper joined the business, bringing new technologies with them.
Approaching the Millenium
The traditional rubber industry skills of moulding, tool making, gasket cutting and stockholding activities were complemented by investment in leading edge CNC rubber and plastics machining. These were primarily aimed at hydraulic and pneumatic seal manufacture but rapidly developed into bespoke machining of plastic products. Computerisation followed in the 1990s, with the company investing in writing its own software to service orders. We also embraced the internet age very early on and were early adopters of CAD/CAM facilities in the Tool room. The rapid onset of globalisation in the latter years of the 20th century saw the biggest shift in our business processes and facilities.
In 2015, we celebrated 150 years of trading. We are proud of our heritage but we are also clearly focussed on the future; with a strong vision of what the company should look like by 2020. There are new processes to investigate and commission to further enhance our product range and capability. We are also in the middle of implementing a new ERP system. Having developed our own software for many years, we are building on this knowledge to install a future-proof system that enables us to control and plan the business more effectively. Further enhancing our ability to respond to ever more demanding customer requirements.