Michael Steedman, Director.
Michael Steedman, who has been with the Wiltshire based company since 1989, gives a brief history of the Test Valley Packaging below.
Test Valley Packaging came into being in 1975, and came under the current family ownership in 1985. Since then there have been many changes in the markets that Test Valley has operated in. The company has enjoyed steady sales growth underpinned by its core values, and has accumulated a wealth of experience in the packaging industry along the way.
Having been in the family business since 1989 I have seen quite a few changes inside, and outside, of Test Valley Packaging, and thinking over my time in the company, one thing I reflect on is the demise of the independent village shop.
In 1975, when Ron Hedges of Salisbury, Wiltshire, a retired grocer, set up his business to supply shops with paper bags, there were tens of thousands of independent grocers, butchers, bakeries, greengrocers, post offices spread throughout rural England situated in market towns, villages and hamlets providing a service to the local people.
When my father, Ian Steedman, purchased the business in 1985, we took over a solid customer base of small and medium size independent shops.
Over the next ten years we continued to supply the independent shops, and, enjoying steady sales growth, we purchased another small packaging company in the early 1990's. However, it was becoming evident that our core customer base was in decline, with the small village shops closing, and the more successful grocers were being bought out by the national grocery chains.
By 1995 we decided we needed to look at new markets, so we made the decision to start supplying protective packaging to industrial and manufacturing companies including bubblewrap, cardboard boxes, packing tapes etc.
< Highfield Road, Salisbury
It was a steep learning curve but we persevered, and through hard work our sales quickly increased so in 1998 we relocated to a new 8,000 square feet warehouse on Churchfields Industrial Estate to give us the storage space we needed.
Over the next six years we continued to grow our industrial packaging sales and in 2004 we purchased two old factories in Watt Road, and renovated them, which gave us 20,000 square feet of warehousing.
< Watt Road, Churchfields Industrial Estate, Salisbury, Wiltshire
Since then we have purchased additional buildings on Churchfields Industrial Estate, Salisbury as the company continued to expand, and as we move forward, I often reflect on the fact that Test Valley's market has changed totally over the last 20 years, but our core values, which have been the cornerstone of our success, remain unchanged.
We are in a world that seems to be changing at a faster rate than ever before and it makes me wonder what our business will look like in 20 years’ time. Whatever happens we look forward to the challenges and opportunities that lie ahead.