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Switchtec marks milestone 40th year in business

Written by on 04/03/2022

Electrical components distributor Switchtec is celebrating a milestone 40 years in business this year.

The family-run company was launched by Alan Lester in 1982, from his Alton home, after he was made redundant from his job as a salesman.

Today the Stone-based company is led by his son, Switchtec managing director Jeremy Lester and Jeremy’s sister Julia Johnson, wife Emma, mum Janet as well as fellow directors Dan Kelsall and John Plows, who has been with the company for 30 years.

Over the last four decades, the business has come a long way from its humble beginnings to supplying a growing range of industrial, electrical and electronic components to customers across the UK.

It has partnerships with industry-leading manufacturers and distributes well-known brands, including its own SCL brand, and offers a number of ‘value add’ services including assembly and custom builds.

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Jeremy said: “When dad was made redundant from his old job, people would call him up and ask if they could buy certain components from him. Dad knew where to get the products from, so he’d get them for his old customers just to help them out and things just went from there.

“I was about four years old when my dad started the business, but I remember him keeping the stock in the garage because he had nowhere else to put it.

“He eventually moved the business into The Old Stables building, in Alton, which had no running water or a toilet. He would have to nip back to the house to make a cup of tea.”

Fast forward eight years and Switchtec moved into a purpose-built building, on Stone Business Park, where it remains today.

Jeremy said: “We have seen a lot of changes over the years. When my dad started the business, there were no mobile phones and no internet and the business was very much based on the relationship the salesmen had with their customers.

“Today it’s obviously a lot easier to search and order online and cut out the middle man – which is us. Having said that, technology has enabled us to be more accessible and available to our customers.”

Jeremy added: “Technology is always evolving which means we’ve had to source new products – some of which didn’t even exist all those years ago. So while our business model hasn’t changed since the beginning, we have had to constantly adapt.”

The Switchtec team celebrate the company's 40th anniversary
The Switchtec team celebrate the company’s 40th anniversary

Switchtec enjoyed a record year in 2021, growing by 25 per cent, and hitting a turnover of £3.5 million.

Now the 16-strong business is eyeing up its next financial milestone and is targeting £5 million in the next five years.

Jeremy said: “We want to continue to grow and, as long as we manage that growth logistically, there’s no reason why we can’t.”

He added: “The strong foundations that my dad laid down when he first started the business have been absolutely key to our success, but we wouldn’t have been able to do any of it without the great team of staff we have around us.”

Switchtec is marking its 40th anniversary with a party at its Brooms Road head office on Saturday, March 26.

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