The End or an Era

Recent visitors to our website might have noticed a small change to the services we offer.  Most probably not. But if you were looking for a link to the range of shoe manufacturing machinery we offered, you might have been disappointed. 

Since the company’s inception we have manufactured and latterly supplied Italian made shoe making machines to the UK market.  From our original Leicester premises on Evington Valley Road our sales team and band of service engineers sourced, supplied, delivered and maintained all manner of production machinery in factories up and down the country.

During the “Golden Age” of British made shoes Standard were one of a number of companies supporting the shoe-making industry, and establishing firm links with the Italian manufacturers of quality toe lasting machines, sole attachers, humidifiers and backpart moulders.

However, as with all “Golden Ages”, the days of British shoe-making pre-eminence ended in the early 70’s with the influx of cheap footwear from the Far East.  Ironically much of this footwear was produced on antiquated machines picked up when the British manufacturers acquired their new, improved machinery.  The shoe making industry shrank alarmingly.  The post-war culture of buying quality, and mending and making do gave way to a more disposable philosophy, which our society is still reeling from today.  Somehow we lost sight of doing what was right to embrace what was convenient.  Instead of spending £100.00 on a pair of shoe that might last you 10 years, we happily shelled out £30.00 for a pair guaranteed to last no more than 2.

By the turn of the current century Standard were still supporting the shoe-manufacturing trade, even though by this time the repairing trade occupied most of our efforts.  We still employed dedicated sales people and engineers for this side of the business.  The trade continued to shrink. Soon the majority of shoe making was done from a handful of companies within Northamptonshire, all within 20 miles of our factory, now in Kettering.  The odd machine was still purchased to replace an older of failing one, but, in order to remain competitive, the shoe-makers had learned how to keep their equipment going a lot longer and mostly maintained them themselves.

As the people handling the manufacturing trade at Standard got older and started to retire they were not replaced.  In the last 18 months the last person from the office who handled manufacturing sales, and the last engineer who serviced the machines both retired.  For a while we still assisted with enquires as best we could, not wanting to let old customers down.  It was hard.  Enquiries that once would have been sorted over the telephone now required photographs, calls and emails between the customer, us and the machinery manufacturers.  We no longer had the relevant expertise to effectively support the industry.

We were also concentrating harder on our core business of shoe repair machinery.  Developing new lines.  Updating.  Improving.  Trying to assist customers.

It hasn’t happened overnight, but soon we were referring manufacturing enquiries to outside engineers we had once used as sub contractors.  More and more, our former customers were going direct to Italy.  Then, one day we quietly removed the “Manufacturing Machinery” section from our website.  The end of an era.

That said, it’s not the last time we will be speaking to factory managers or production engineers at Loake Bros. or Church & Co. or Cheney’s.  There are over a hundred years worth of old machines out there, and a sizeable number of them have a name plate on them emblazoned with the big Standard “S”.  So, for many years to come we, and the men and women who follow us at Standard will be fending off machine and parts enquiries on equipment which is entirely mysterious to us

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© Standard Engineering Ltd 2012