Twenty-five years of Laser Process - the first steps


On the second of January 1990 me and my brother, Neil, and Bill Wharton sat in a 'borrowed' office in Cannock on the first day of operation for Laser Process Ltd. Our first 'proper' premises were not to be available until the beginning of February and our first machinery would not arrive until March. In the meantime we were subcontracting all of our orders. the most important thing was to keep the momentum going and to successfully service our customers.

Simon Murphy and Tony Jeffries joined at the beginning of February to help set up the factory unit for the machine arrival in March. Sheena Harris (accounts) also started at that time.

Our first two laser cutting systems were installed in March/April and the rest, as they say, is history.

It's difficult to believe that twenty-five years have gone by since that time and difficult to believe that I am twenty-five years older.

There have been some great times over the years as well as some dark times. Tony died in a motorcycle accident in 2000 and Neil died in 2008. they were, and still are, greatly missed. We have developed to be one of the leading laser cutting jobshops in the country, with an excellent reputation and have grown largely through recommendation. The contributions of Neil and Tony were an important part of the success we came to see.

Of those who started at the beginning only myself and Simon remain, although Paul Shaughnessy is still here and he started with us in June 1990.

By 1994 we had outgrown our original premises and we moved to a unit, twice the size, just around the corner. This was also the year that we purchased our first Trumpf system.

A year later we were presented with the opportunity of purchasing what would have been the the only UK built system. We decided to go with a British manufacturer because they had an excellent reputation in building machine tools - and they were British. However, they had not, previously, built a laser cutting system. Six months after the (three times extended) delivery promise was missed, and it became obvious that we were some way from getting a viable machine, we were forced to cancel the order (thank goodness we put safeguards into the contract). It is a shame that a British manufacturer was not able to come up with the goods, but we felt it important to give them a chance.

Within two weeks of cancellation a new Trumpf system was being installed and we have only ever used Trumpf since. 

In 1999 we met Bob Hawkins, a local quality consultant. Bob installed our quality system and we got accreditation later that year. Bob has been retained ever since and has successfully taken us through many accreditation procedures since.

In 2002 we were on the move again. After over two years fighting with bureaucracy to buy a piece of land ( a piece of land that public money had paid to reclaim for job creation) we managed to sign the contract and within nine months we were in our new home, and that is where we are now.

I said earlier that there have been great times and dark times and I guess that one of the greatest challenges we have faced has been the crash that happened in 2008. We were not alone, of course, it was a difficult time for most businesses and were are still not entirely clear of it. However, things are improving and, with a bit of luck we have seen the worst of it.

So, twenty years of excitement, tragedy and joy and many, many great relationships formed and we sit here ready to take on the next twenty five.

To all of our employees, past and present, to our many thousands of customers, to our suppliers and to all of the countless friends in the 'laser world' I say thank you. It's been a great ride and it wouldn't have happened without you.