Qualkems history started with Robert Frazer and Doug Holt founding Repclif Chemical Services Ltd on 20th July 1971. Robert was a Chemical Engineer and Doug an Industrial Chemist. Prior both worked for the Wellcome Foundation in Crewe, Cheshire.
Qualkem’s Story started when, Robert and Doug saw an opportunity to meet demand for smaller run product lines. They decided to set up a sales office and small storage unit at 45 High Street, Sandbach, Cheshire. Their first customer was Portaloo making toilet additives under the Destrol brand. In the early days, product was blended and filled by a third-party contractor, labelled in Bob’s back bedroom. These were stored in the High Street buildings, before being delivered up to York in a company van. The story continues in our Historic timeline below…
Repclif Chemical Services Ltd was founded and our journey began.1971
ExpansionWithin 18 months, the Company had outgrown the High Street premises and the business took on a lease of a 2500sq. ft industrial unit across in Winsford, Cheshire. From here they were able to blend, fill and pack all under one roof, allowing them to take on contract filling projects, including filling jointing lubricant for the Batoyle Freedom Group, a job that continued for over 40 years until 2014 when Fuchs Lubricants (UK) PLC acquired Batoyle.1973
Onwards & Upwards
Approaching the end of a 7 year lease at Winsford, Bob and Doug decided to take the expanding business closer to their Sandbach homes and acquired a hectare of land from the Council during 1979 and embarked on a self-build 5000sq. ft factory unit in Macon Way, Crewe.1980
By the mid-1980s Portaloo were distributing Destrol toilet additives globally, placing a high demand on on-site storage of formaldehyde. The Company invested in some history by purchasing a 9000 litre ex-World War 2 tank used to transport hydrogen peroxide by rail to the V-2 rocket development and production site at Peenemünde in north-east Germany.
The Company secured the contract to supply Mercedes-Benz UK with all their Windscreen Washer Concentrate, Anti-Frost and De-Icer. Over the following decades the Company worked closely with Mercedes-Benz to create accessory car care ranges for nearly 30 years, supplying in excess of 7 million Windscreen Washer Concentrate bottles with zero complaints.1990
Portaloo Hands Over The Reins
Portaloo moved away from single portable toilet manufacturing and the Company took on the sole direct distribution of Destrol products. Over the following years, the Company developed a comprehensive toilet servicing range, moving away from formaldehyde-based toilet additives, and offering ancillary cleaning and descaling products.2000
The Next Generation
Rolling Out The Plan
The First Appearance
Meeting The Standard
Dating back to the 1990s, the business has been underpinned by robust operational and quality control manufacturing processes, offering customers full product traceability. However, the company had never sought formal certification. ISO 9001 has significantly improved business operations and culture such that we can effectively and efficiently meet our customer's expectations.2018
Since 2016, the Company has developed and launched 75 Qualkem own-label products and Customkem dual branded products, working with leading brands and wholesalers in multiple sectors. Business growth has warranted investment in new equipment to meet capacity. In support of our wholesalers and Qualkem brands, we have promoted Tom French as our inaugural apprentice in Digital Marketing to take us into the next decade.2019
A New Decade
23rd July 2021 saw the company hit the milestone of 50 years of trading.
A BBQ event was held at the factory and invites were sent to past and present employees and advisors.
Among the guests were the Mayor of Crewe Cllr Tom Dunlop and our MP Dr Kieran Mullan. Dr Mullan assisted the mayor in opening our new upcycled staff seating area which was built by young people from the Cheshire East Care Leaves Service and the Virtual School.
In January, Repclif formally changed its name to Qualkem Limited.