Robert Senior (1922 - 2009) was born in Huddersfield. He attended Huddersfield Tech and obtained qualifications in Organic Chemistry to eventually become a Member of the Royal Institute of Chemistry (MRIC). After 4 years in the RAF as a navigator during WWII he returned to industry with Organic Dyestuffs in Salford. This is where he first became acquainted with Harold Wyndham West. Harold West was a major supplier to the company, and was a man of great experience he was very much in the style of the famous Manchester Merchants. Bob and Harold decided to form a company using Bob's technical knowledge and Harold's business acumen. The company West and Senior Ltd was then registered and commenced trading at Pendleton Mills, Croft Street, Salford in 1952 with £1,000 share capital. The partnership proved to be a happy one and the Company became a manufacturer of notable organic pigments namely Pigment Green B (mainly for tinting concrete) and Lake Red C (used in the early PVC footballs). Harold West died in 1973 and left a great legacy for the Company. In the 60's West & Senior moved to Chatsworth Mills in Gorton and later in the decade moved away from dry pigment manufacture due to stiff competition, and entered the world of dispersions. In 1973 West & Senior moved once again, to its current location at Vale Mills in Radcliffe, Manchester lacus.
The factory at Radcliffe focused on liquid and paste production. The equipment for this comprised mainly of Edge Runner mills for pre-mixing and single roll and triple roll mills for milling. The team at this time included Bill Smith as Works Director with Russell Allamby as Sales Director. It was in 1971 that Stephen Senior joined the Company. In the mid 1970's the company started to produce more detailed management accounts to improve overall business control and installed our first computer. We were very much pioneers in 1977 when we started our employee profit sharing scheme, distributing 20% of our pre-tax profits on a quarterly basis. British Politics were very turbulent in the 1970's but West and Senior survived this stormy decade increasing our annual sales turnover from £198,135 to £802,339 partly due to high inflation and partly the Company's continued success.
The 1980’s saw a decade of ups and downs.Early in the decade the company introduced to the market a ground breaking competitive price list for a range of pre-coloured polyester gel coats. This did fantastically well increasing our sales of Gelcoat from 50 tonnes per annum to nearly 500 tonnes in a matter of a few years. Sadly, in 1980, Bill Smith suffered a very damaging stroke; from which he never fully recovered. In 1985 we purchased Arkwright Chemicals Ltd a company which produced coatings for leather and polyurethane dispersions, it was an another opportunity to expand our portfolio. Neil Wright, who effectively managed Arkwright Chemicals, is now our Technical & Operations Director. In the same year Stephen Senior became Managing Director adding to his post as Financial Director, and Bob Senior become life Chairman. By 1986 Stephen Senior increasingly found it difficult to perform both roles adequately and so appointed David Brown as accountant and then as Financial Director. Bob Senior retired from active duties in 1987 but still keeps a parental eye on the Company! In 1989 we began trading in Chemical Foaming Agents, this activity evolved into the substantial dry blend business of today. In the 1980's our annual sales turnover grew from £949,000 (approx 1,200 tonnes) to £4,038,000 (1,795 tonnes) and was a very successful decade.
1990 was the year that we started seeking our first quality accreditation namely BS5750 and also the year new government controls on the workplace environment were being introduced such as COSHH. During the 90's we first developed our Open Book Supply Agreement. We would supply all our costing and margin information, and our customer agreed to price fluctuations under certain conditions. This agreement was a significant move in the Company's strategy and, this type of agreement proved so successful that we have rolled it out to most of our major customers, and more than half our current sales is now supplied to customers with this type of supply agreement. In 1992 John Daniels joined the Company from Blagden Chemicals and is now our Sales and Operations Director. During the 90's the company invested heavily in it's production facilities and by the end of the decade, paste production was almost entirely based on a modern high speed disperser and triple role mill production cell (17 in all). Powder products were now produced on our three large powder blenders (a Henschel and two Fielders). Both powder and paste products were able to be packed into media dissolvable sachets on 4 automated lines and all labelling was produced by "state of the art" multi language software. The years after 1999 have seen many changes in the operation of the company, increasing Global regulation and legislation has changed industry and society for ever, the new emphasis in quality systems, environmental concerns, health and safety requirements, packaging and transport restrictions and employment law have all added to the complexity and costs involved in manufacturing. It has made the Company leaner, more focused and ultimately more successful.
Into the 21st Century over 50% of West & Senior Sales are exported to more than 30 countries globally. Forward thinking recent investments in i-Match technology a Web-based colour matching, colour correction and Quality Control service which allows clients to connect directly to the Fastint™ master colour data on our servers in Manchester UK for economic and efficient control of colour requirements.
In 2013 the Company was awarded the International Exporter of the Year (Chemicals and Pharmaceuticals) Sponsored by The Insider (NW), and it is with some satisfaction that we reported in 2014 a Sales Turnover of over £12M million as the business further developed into Export Markets. 2016 saw West and Senior being awarded the new ISO 9001:2015 and ISO 14001:2015 standards, we were one of the first companys in the UK to acheive both the new standards. 2017 saw West & Senior continue to increase turnover particularly our export sales, which now account for 55% of total sales.