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Over 24 years of quality manufacturing


As STS approaches a quarter of a century of trading, we’re reflecting on how and where it all began and how we’ve managed to establish ourselves as the best in the business, not just in the UK - but globally.

The STS Story begins in the world of offshore oil and gas. Our founder Colin Jones, who was at that time a North Sea Engineer, saw that the industry was ahead of the curve when it came to health and safety. In fact, as early as 1995 the industry was beginning to observe how injury due to avoidable accidents was impacting productivity.

For Colin, this awareness was way ahead of anything he’d observed on the mainland and he considers himself fortunate to have been in the middle of such a shift. This meant that he was able to experience the rules and regulations first-hand as they were being implemented and witness the impact they were making.

It became clear to Colin that, before too long these changes would be adopted across many more industries. He decided to start STS, a business that would manufacture equipment that facilitated the safe lifting and handling of heavy items. And drums were a key focus. On the rigs, he had seen drums as heavy as 250kg lifted and moved using equipment that was not truly fit for purpose so he knew there was huge potential for improvement.

He began working on a product and, when this was complete, he took it on the road to demonstrate to customers and to trade shows to gauge interest. This initial product was the Universal Drum Trolley and it was very well received. So much so that people started asking what else STS could do to solve other handling challenges.

The Universal Drum Trolley was so successful in fact that in 2000 Colin was named an inventor of the year by the BBC programme Tomorrow's World. A testament to the impact the first STS product made in the UK workplace.

From the very beginning when developing new products, Colin placed the customer and their needs at the centre of the design and manufacturing process; it’s a policy STS still adopts today and one that has been key to their success. For Colin, too many of the products available were dated designs that were poorly manufactured and not fit for purpose. Many were destined to end up obsolete somewhere in the corners of the factories.

Instead of following the status quo, STS began working alongside customers to understand their processes and requirements. The goal was not only to make something of premium quality that would last but that would take into consideration factors such as different applications or barrel sizes, etc.

STS also ensured that products were subject to the relevant design risk assessments. This means that equipment hazards or risks are minimised before manufacture. Having this knowledge and peace of mind makes it easier for customers to write their own creditable risk assessments.

Thanks to this holistic approach to design, along with Colin and wife Kathi’s commitment to trade shows and getting out on the road with their products, STS grew. Customers loved the fact that they were able to try lifting heavy barrels themselves at exhibitions. Many exhibitors demonstrated their products with empty barrels, but STS wanted people to experience their groundbreaking products first hand so they were always full to the brim with liquid. The equipment made lifting barrels look easy and outshone other exhibitors.

As they established themselves in the UK, customers brought in factory managers from their sister locations. This once-small set-up from Cornwall was showing international manufacturing brands that there was a better, more efficient way to carry out day-to-day operations. Before long, STS was shipping overseas as far as the US and Asia.

And with that growth has come a broad range of specification possibilities. Over 10,000 units shipped worldwide, all with the same commitment to developing quality products manufactured with the customer’s need in mind. We can’t wait to see what the next 25 years will bring.

If you’re interested in investing in barrel lifting equipment that will last for decades. Why not get in touch with our team? We’re always here to help ensure you’re investing in barrel lifting equipment that will deliver the best possible value.

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