Our Story

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.

Introduction

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…

Qualkem Logo no under text

Qualkem's Story

The Beginning

Repclif Chemical Services Ltd was founded and our journey began.

1971

Expansion

Within 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

Higher Demands

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.https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/V-2_rocket

1980

Mercedes-Benz

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

Ivan Anketell-Clifford joined the Company as the second-generation family member
 

2005

New Direction

During a difficult trading period following the 2007-08 financial crisis, the Company focused on rethinking its sales strategy and embarked on a change in business direction. Historically founded on contract manufacturing and filling white-label products for many prestigious blue chip companies, the Company was to focus on own label product lines and dual branded products, again with market leading partners in growth sectors.
 

2014

Rolling Out The Plan

During 2015 a new chapter in the history of the company starts when, Robert Frazer retires leading the way to appoint Ian Hill (Sales & Marketing) to form part of the management team alongside Neil Wakefield (Operations) to roll out the business vision.
 

2014

The First Appearance

Qualkem, our Parent brand, was registered and the Company could start to launch its own label products. The b# brass instrument cleaning range was the first official Qualkem branded range to be introduced.

2016

CustomKem

Vibraglaz UK became Qualkem’s first Customkem Partner. Qualkem are now working with six different pan-European or global Customkem Partners in various sectors.

2017

Meeting The Standard

Dating back to the 1990s, the business has been underpinned by robust operational and quality control manufacturing processes, offering customers 100% 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 customers’ expectations.

2018

Looking Forward

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

Ivan and his wife Rachael formally become the new owners of the business.

2020

New Operations

Steve Pickett joins the business as the new Operations Manager at Qualkem. Neil Wakefield took an early retirement at the start of 2021.

2020

50th anniversary!

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.

 

July 2021

Name Changed


In January, Repclif formally changed its name to Qualkem Limited.

January 2022