PBM catches up with EJ to discover its plans for its 135th anniversary, what the future holds and how the business stays true to its roots.
Over its 40-year history, Peter Savage grew to become one of the leading manufacturers and suppliers of access covers and drainage gratings in the UK. In 2015, the business was purchased by EJ — a global Group that specialises in access solutions. On 1st July 2017 Peter Savage was fully rebranded as EJ.
Having celebrated its 40th anniversary in 2016, Peter Savage had by that time arguably become the go-to name within the access cover industry. It was, however, considered fitting that the planned rebrand soon followed as EJ wanted the transition to be both a celebration of what Peter Savage had achieved as well as excitement for what was to come.
Clearly, having built such a strong reputation and brand within the UK construction industry — and especially amongst merchant distributors — rebranding to a relatively unknown brand within the UK was considered a brave move. Paul Smith, Managing Director, recollected: “Having personally spent 30 years in the business under the Savage name, there were some mixed emotions when we agreed the rebrand to EJ.
“However, having spent an exciting first year with EJ (since the purchase), we just knew it was time to take the next step in our successful history. As a global brand, we could clearly see how becoming EJ would significantly help us with our ongoing growth and success. Being part of EJ has been truly inspiring; we already feel very much part of the family.”
Whilst the EJ brand is relatively new in the UK market, it is a well-established global brand and has a rich history. Indeed, EJ lays claim to being the world leader in the design, manufacture and distribution of access covers and gratings for water, sewer, drainage, telecommunications and utility networks. The company supplies products in six of the seven continents and has distribution, sales and manufacturing facilities based all around the world. This manufacturing capability includes three large foundries, one composite products facility and seven fabrication facilities.
The EJ legacy actually dates back to 1883, when William E. Malpass and his father-in-law Richard W. Round established a foundry on the shores of Lake Charlevoix in the town of East Jordan, Michigan, USA. This nascent business was called Round and Malpass Foundry and originally produced cast parts for the lumber industry, machinery, ships, agricultural equipment and railroads.
In 1886, William’s brother, James, joined the business and the company was renamed East Jordan Iron Works. By the 1920s, when the lumbering era came to a close, the company had welcomed the second generation to the business and expanded into new markets allowing continued success in changing times. Production shifted to street castings, water works valves, fire hydrants and various industrial castings.
Fast forward to the early 2000s and East Jordan Iron Works began turning its attention to expansion in other parts of the world, with the acquisition of Cavanagh Foundry in Ireland (2000), Norinco in France (2004), McCoy Construction Castings in Canada (2006) and HaveStock in Australia (2010). In 2012, the expanding group and its affiliated companies began doing business using the same name and brand, EJ.
The company is still 100% family owned and 2018 marks a momentous year for EJ as it celebrates its 135th anniversary. To mark the occasion, EJ will be launching several new innovative products throughout the year.
In the UK, the first of these products is a new Highway range called HA2 BRUNEL, a range of access covers and frames designed and tested to EN 124:2015 and HA104/09. The core of the range is manufactured at EJ’s own foundry, based in the Picardie region of France, and the covers have undergone extensive trials and tests including road trials in live traffic conditions.
Paul Smith commented: “These are exciting times. We will be launching several new products this year that are designed to further complement our extensive range, and support our strong and growing UK customer base. We recognise the need to continue to innovate and develop our range in line with changing requirements within the market — modern methods of construction are calling for products to be easier and quicker to install, yet still provide innovative features to aid durability in service.
“With the business now being able to utilise manufacturing and innovation facilities around the world, product development is significantly enhanced. As a global enterprise we can now draw on technical global expertise and global knowledge, enabling us to draw on what EJ are doing globally and then bring this to the UK market. This will provide the difference to our customers.”
Company Address: Liberty House, Liberty Way, Nuneaton, CV11 6RZ
Telephone: 024 7664 1777
Product Range: EJ is a leader in the design, manufacture and distribution of access solutions for water, sewer, drainage, telecommunications and utility networks worldwide. An extensive range of ductile iron & steel access covers & gratings, linear drainage and access chambers is available.
Group Structure/Subsidiary Companies: EJ is a global enterprise that spans six continents. Its corporate head office is based in East Jordan, Michigan and has been since 1883.
Accreditations: ISO 9001, CHAS, Achilles Verified
Trade Associations: FACTA, NMBS Supplier Member
Marketing / POS Support: EJ offers an extensive range of marketing support, including the creation of supporting marketing material along with technical and product support if needed.
Company Comment: “As the world leader in the design, manufacture and distribution of access covers, gratings and access chambers for water, sewer, drainage, telecommunications and utility networks, EJ can confidently provide access and drainage products to suit almost any project or application. Supporting the distribution network is a company guideline and as a UK business we strive to provide first class customer service to all our customers. This includes — but is not limited to — product support, training, design assistance & selection for products on any project, plus significant marketing support.”