Still family-owned and run today, Draper Tools is celebrating its centenary year. PBM charts the company’s history and outlines a number of its latest initiatives.
Back in 1919, Bert Draper established a business selling government surplus and tools in markets around the Kingston upon Thames area. Then known as B. Draper & Son Limited, this led to the purchase of the firm’s original warehouse from where it operated as an Engineers Merchant and Tool Wholesaler. Owning the trademark B.D.S., the company sold its own brand alongside others which remain well-known today, such as Britool, King Dick and Elliott Lucas.
When Bert Draper passed away in 1963, control of the company passed to his son Norman. With the increased business and cramped conditions at Kingston upon Thames, Norman purchased the freehold rights to the current premises in Chandler’s Ford, Hampshire at auction the same year and pushed the business forward dramatically, developing the ‘Draper’ brand as it is known today.
Importing quality tools from around the world, he also established exclusive relationships with companies such as Elora and Knipex, which still exist today.
Norman died in 1994 and Draper Tools is now run by his son John, who took over the reins in 1992. As the business marks its centenary, it remains “as committed to growth and innovation as ever” through “a mixture of inward investment, active support for the independent stockist, striving for operational efficiency and all underpinned by the golden rule since 1919 — Guaranteed Quality”.
Improvements to its head office facility in Chandler’s Ford have been made continuously over the years and the facility has now reached a size of 535,000 sq.ft. The company’s broad range of hand and power tools for both professional trades and serious enthusiasts has also expanded and now encompasses over 11,000 products lines.
John Draper, Chairman, commented: “We are proud to have reached this important milestone in our company history and would like to take this opportunity to thank everyone who has helped us get here. Although we have grown a lot over the last century, we still like to think of ourselves as a no-nonsense, customer-focused tool supplier. Quality and reliability are still very much at the heart of the business and this will continue as we progress and grow into 2019 and beyond.”
To mark the anniversary, Draper Tools has teamed up with fellow centenarian Care for Veterans. The charity was established in 1919 as The Queen Alexandra Hospital Home to care for soldiers returning from World War I with life-changing disabilities. For 100 years, it has been providing long term nursing care, rehabilitation, respite and award-winning end of life care to disabled ex-Servicemen and women from the RAF, Army, Royal Navy and auxiliary services.
“Although we have grown a lot over the last century, we still like to think of ourselves as a no-nonsense, customer-focused tool supplier.”
Draper Tools’ year-long celebration is now well underway, with exclusive promotions, competitions, charity fundraising and, each month, special edition centenary products “launched at great prices”. Furthermore, a centenary edition catalogue was made available in April and features 928 pages of tools and equipment.
Drawing on the firm’s heritage, the centenary edition catalogue opens with a personal welcome note and message of thanks from the Draper family. Indeed, the family has always had a strong involvement in the creation of the catalogue going back to 1953, when Joan Draper — wife of former Chairman Norman — almost single-handedly produced the company’s first typewritten brochure.
Designed with a new structure and order to make it easier to navigate, the centenary catalogue features more than 900 new products, reflecting the firm’s philosophy of constantly reviewing and expanding its range. Highlights are said to include the D20 power tools range and a completely new collection of storage chests and cabinets.
For more information on Draper Tools, visit www.drapertools.com.