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R. WEST & SON – COMPANY HISTORY

R. West & Son was founded more than a century ago and has a long and interesting company history.

Surviving a World War, modernisation and huge changes in the industry; R.West & Son has stood the test of time to remain Plymouth’s leading manufacturer of timber packaging. Find out more about our fascinating company history in the timeline below.

COMPANY HISTORY TIMELINE

Timeline

1867 – Richard West was Born

Richard West, the founder of R. West & Son was born in Brixton, Devon on 11th December 1867. Richard went on to marry and lived on a farm with his wife Matilda and their eight children: Francis, William, Lilian, Rupert, Cecil, Edgar, Percy and Elsie May.

Our-History---Richard-West - R. West & Son

WW1 – Conflict brings change

WW1 – Conflict brings change

World War I broke out in 1914 and changed the lives of the West family. With the exception of their youngest son Percy, all of the West boys served in the Army throughout the conflict. Sadly, Cecil and Edgar were killed in action in 1917 and 1918 respectively.

After WW1 – West boys returned home

After WW1 – West boys returned home

After the war, the surviving West boys returned home to work on the farm and began to work on tree felling and selling treetops for use as firewood, supplying companies in the Plymouth area including Viggars and Popham; based on Sutton Road.

1922 – Richard purchased the business

1922 – Richard purchased the business

Viggars and Popham were in financial difficulties, so Richard purchased the business in 1922 with the help of a £90 I.O.U from son Rupert’s war gratuity. The Wests soon renamed the business to reflect the new ownership, deciding on ‘R. West & Son’

Richard tasked Rupert with running their new acquisition

Richard tasked Rupert with running their new acquisition

Richard tasked Rupert with running their new acquisition and as Rupert had a limited knowledge of the timber industry, he employed someone who did – George Jackson. George remained with the business for 55 years, working for all four generations of the West family.

Our-History---Rupert - R. West & Son

WW2 – All staff contribute by cutting & turning wood

WW2 – All staff contribute by cutting & turning wood

When World War II was declared in 1939, all of the staff were required to join the Voluntary Defence Force and contribute to the war effort by cutting and turning wood to use for the Home Guard’s rifle practice, as there weren’t enough real rifles to go around.

History-of-R.West-and-Son - R. West & Son

The premises were hit by several bombs

The premises were hit by several bombs

As the bombing of Plymouth became more frequent, the premises were hit by several bombs though thankfully, little damage was done. A high explosive bomb landed in the railway siding next door, closely missing R. West & Son’s sawing machinery but creating a hole in the wall that’s still there today.

1941 – Richard relinquished his interest in the timber business

1941 – Richard relinquished his interest in the timber business

Richard relinquished his interest in the timber business, giving Rupert the assets (including a quarry) in 1941. In 1945, Rupert decided to modernise the business, installing electricity, replacing machinery and retiring the old steam engine.

1947 – Rupert’s son Derek joined the business

1947 – Rupert’s son Derek joined the business

Rupert’s son Derek joined the business in 1947 and he eventually became the third generation of the West family to run the business. Derek was instrumental in changing the direction of the business from a sawmill to an export packaging business.

1970’s – Sawmill became untenable and was sold on

1970’s – Sawmill became untenable and was sold on

In the early 1970s, Derek’s son Rob joined the business, chiefly managing the South Brent sawmill. As the industry developed and ISPM 15 regulations came in, the sawmill became untenable and was sold on. Rob then concentrated on running the Sutton Road location.

Our-History---timeline-photo - R. West & Son

1998 – Derek retired from the business

1998 – Derek retired from the business

Derek retired from the business in 1998, making Rob the fourth generation to run the business. Derek’s retirement was somewhat surprising to his son, as he announced his intention to retire – effective immediately – whilst driving home from work! 

2016 – Long-term customers Jason and Angela Kennedy purchased the company

2016 – Long-term customers Jason and Angela Kennedy purchased the company

In 2016, long-term customers Jason and Angela Kennedy purchased the company from Rob West and spent two years under his instruction to learn everything about the business. In late 2019, the Kennedys took full control of the company.

R. West & Son moves into its 12th decade

R. West & Son moves into its 12th decade

As R. West & Son moves into its 12th decade in business under new ownership, the Kennedys are keen to channel their passion for the business into developing the products, growing the client base and building upon the strong foundations laid by the West family.

WHAT OUR CUSTOMERS SAY

“Finding a local company who could manufacture packing cases to meet the recent ISPM15 timber packaging regulations for our aftersales department was high on our agenda. R. West & Son in Plymouth has successfully provided us with a reliable solution to this problem.”

GRANT HOOPER, HEAD OF MATERIALS & AFTERSALES, PRINCESS YACHTS INTERNATIONAL PLC

“When we made the decision to move our manufacturing facility to China, there were several issues that needed hands-on management. When it came to shipping the machinery and components, the R. West & Son team took full control of the move, from arranging the containers to the packaging and paperwork required to complete the move. This was one less headache to deal with. A good, all-round job and R. West & Son are thoroughly recommended to anyone else needing a similar service.”

STEVE BROADSTOCK, MANAGING DIRECTOR, BRITISH FLY REELS