2017 is a proud and momentous year for Barrus as the company celebrates its 100-year anniversary.

Vision and innovation have always been at the heart of the company ever since it was founded by Ernest Barrus in the early years of the twentieth century. We invite you to take a look back through Barrus’s history to discover how the company has adapted constantly to changing times to remain at the forefront of its chosen fields after a century of trading.

CELEBRATING OUR FIRST 100 YEARS
  GEARING UP FOR THE NEXT.

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1800s

Ernest Prouty Barrus was born.

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1900s

L S Starrett in Europe.

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1917

Barrus and Cullen was founded.

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1920s

E.P.Barrus Ltd.

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1930s

The Barrus exhibition and training school.

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1940s

Barrus in the Second World War.

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1950s

Barrus powerboat racing.

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1960s

Barrus and the military.

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1970s

Barrus Team Mariner.

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1980s

Expansion at Bicester.

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1990s

1m investment in Barrus production facilities.

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2000s

Into a new Millennium.

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2010s

Wilkinson Sword and the new Garden Tools Division.

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2017

Barrus at 100.

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1800s

1878 Ernest Prouty Barrus was born.

Ernest Prouty Barrus was born in 1878 in Massachusetts, USA. The Barrus family traced their origins back to John and Anne Barrowe who sailed from Yarmouth in Norfolk to Salem, Massachusetts, in 1637. Ernest's birthplace was the town of Athol in Worcester County, Massachusetts where he started his career at the L S Starrett company, world leaders in the manufacture of precision tools.

1880 L S Starrett company was founded.

The L S Starrett Company based in Athol was Ernest Barrus's future employer. Athol became known as 'Tool Town' USA largely from the L S Starrett Company who became known as the world's greatest toolmakers. Starrett still has its HQ in Athol and employs 2000 worldwide.

1900s

Early 1900s L S Starrett in Europe.

During the early 1900s Ernest Barrus travelled extensively throughout Europe in preparation for setting up L S Starrett Co (GB) Ltd in London and marketing Starrett products throughout the continent

L S Starrett recognised Ernest's success and requested him to set up a new factory in Scotland which he did with such success that he agreed to similar requests from the Cleveland Twist Drill Company for its factory in Scotland and the Stanley Works for its factories in Yorkshire and Germany.

1908 Ernest Barrus marries Stella May Tyler.

In 1908 Ernest Barrus married Stella May Tyler who came from an old-established New England family. Known as "Bonnie", she was always remembered as a kindly lady. During the First World War the family's chauffeur-driven car would often take her to the local convalescent home for wounded serviceman, several of whom she would entertain each week to a drive in the country and afternoon tea.

Always refusing to have any business discussed at home, she was nevertheless a source of constant loyalty and support to her husband as he built up the family firm. Ernest and Stella Barrus had two children, Philip, born in 1909, and Dorothy, born in 1910.

 

1917

1917 Barrus and Cullen was founded.

Tool shortages in the UK and the start of the 1st World War prompted Ernest Barrus and a colleague, John Redmond Cullen; to establish their own company in 1917, Barrus & Cullen Ltd, to handle the UK distribution for a number of US manufactured tools including L S Starrett and Cleveland Tools.

1917 Upper Thames Street.

Premises were taken at 35-37, Upper Thames Street in London, ideally located in a busy commercial part of the city. The unique characteristic of the Thames-side premises was that they combined offices, warehouse, training school and wharves all on the one site.

Before the days of computers, there were almost twenty typists with manual typewriters and draughtsmen who, were, a key part of the Barrus team as the company constantly sought ways of improving the products and services it offered.

1920s

1924 E.P.Barrus Ltd.

Herbert Franklin Barrus, Ernest Barrus's nephew, joined the company in 1922 and Cullen's departure in 1924 led the company to change its name to E.P.Barrus Ltd.

1920s Pioneering the power tool and machinery market in the UK.

With the static growth of the hand tool market, Barrus pioneered the power tool and machinery market in the UK distributing equipment from Stanley, Walker-Turner, General Floorcraft, the Mariola Electric Company, Black Diamond and Amaco & Driver. These machines covered the whole spectrum of power tools, precision drill grinders, precision shapers, bench saws, jigsaws, jointers, vertical spindle shapers, lathes, drill presses, bolt shapers, power flex shafts, bench grinders and electric motors.

1925 Building up the business.

E.P. Barrus Ltd continued to grow during the difficult war years much of which was attributable to the drive and innovation displayed by Ernest Barrus.

He had helped pioneer the introduction of the claw hammer and the metal plane and developed sales of other products.

1920s Barrus enters the marine market.

All power boat racing came to an end with the First World War and it did not resume until the 1920s. In the mid 1920's Mr. E. P. Barrus took up a wager with some of his English friends who did not believe that the Americans could produce a fast performance boat and engine. On one of his regular trips to the US Ernest Barrus placed orders for six Johnson-powered hydroplane hulls and three Lycoming inboard engine hydroplanes. He decided to form a Barrus powerboat team which began racing from the mid-1920s onwards, using Lycoming and the new Johnson Sea Horse engines.

After numerous power boat racing successes, combined with the company's evident expertise in distribution and marketing, led to Barrus being appointed as the sole UK distributor for Johnson & Lycoming outboard engines in the 1930s.

1930s

1930s Barrus pioneers the 'Package Boat.'

Typical of Ernest Barrus's vision and innovative streak was his development in the 1930's of the concept of what became known in the 1990s as the 'package boat'.

In the 1930s, Barrus were pioneers of the ‘package boat’ which came fully equipped at a range of prices to suit most pockets. The Barrus 16 foot fast launch was well reviewed in a 1936 article in The Motor boat.

1930s Barrus record-breaking powerboats.

In the 1930s 17' 9" Barrus Seahawk, Blue Ace, powered by a 150hp six cylinder Lycoming engine and piloted by H C Notley, set several national and international speed records, covering almost 305 nautical miles during a twelve hour run off Poole in less than perfect conditions.

In 1938 Barrus imported five Ventnor hydroplanes, driven by four litre, six cylinder, 175hp Lycoming race engines and priced at £890 each. Barrus demonstrated the Ventnors, world speed record holders in their class at more than 73 mph, at Poole where, with H C Notley at the helm once again, they broke several UK and world records for their class. The Barrus racers competed in all the famous pre-war powerboat races including the Duke of York Trophy in Poole and Torbay.

1930s Barrus enters the automotive market.

With the growth in motor vehicles, Ernest Barrus recognised the great potential in vehicle servicing and entered the automotive market in the 1930s supplying garage tools and equipment.

 

1936 The Barrus exhibition and training school.

A unique Barrus Exhibition Garage and Training School was opened on the Thames Enbankment in 1937 which featured the first remote controlled electric garage doors. There was also a showroom for tools and small equipment at 99, Queen Victoria Street in the City. 

Barrus today continues to maintain a fully equipped technicians and mechanics training school 

1937 Barrus's first mobile sales force.

Another of Barrus’s far sighted moves was to make the sales force mobile by equipping them with company cars.

1938 Barrus moves to larger premises.

As well as the Head Office, which remained in Upper Thames Street, the showroom in Queen Victoria Street and the exhibition garage in Grosvenor Road, the company moved into a new purpose-built works in Brunel Road in Acton. With the threat of war looming the building was designed to incorporate bomb blast protection and air raid shelters.

In recognition of his achievement Ernest Barrus appointed his nephew Frank Barrus to the Barrus board in 1930. During the 1930s Ernest Barrus's principal assistants other than Frank were Robert Leutwyler, a native of Switzerland and company secretary in 1931. Ernest Barrus's son Philip who had joined the company in the late 1920s, was appointed director of the company in 1933.

Confident in Frank's abilities to run the business Ernest Barrus and his wife returned to the US in 1937. Ernest Barrus died in 1944 at the age of 66. He had lived to see E. P. Barrus Ltd become a major distribution business which held a strong position in the fields of hand tools, machine tools, motor servicing equipment, marine engine and accessories.

1940s

1940s Barrus in the Second World War.

During the war years Barrus supplied precision instruments, cutting tools and machine tools to the Ministry of Supply and outboard motors for assault boats to the War Office.

Late 1940s Barrus enters manufacturing.

Post-war austerity eventually bought an end to powerboat racing for Barrus. With the dollar shortage, austerity also meant Barrus was restricted in the volume of goods it could import from the United States. 

Frank Barrus recognised the need for the company to find an alternative source of trading income in the UK and he wanted to obtain manufacturing licences from its US suppliers. A new company, E. P. Barrus (Concessionaires) Ltd, was formed in 1950 as a subsidiary of E. P Barrus which enabled the company to set up manufacturing options.

At Acton the company made portable hydraulic equipment under the Blackhawk name as well as ARO pneumatic tools, hand tools and portable power tools by Stanley, Walker-Turner and Disston.

1950s

1950s Barrus powerboat racing.

Barrus resumed importing on a significant scale in 1958. Barrus substantially increased the sales of Johnson outboards, aided by the reappearance of Johnson engines in British powerboat racing and by 1960 they had become the sole distributor of Johnson outboards.

1959 Changes in Barrus management.

In 1958, Philip Barrus assumed sole responsibility for the company following the sudden death of Frank Barrus.

Frank Barrus’s sons, Frank and Lawrence ran the Starrett and Cleveland Twist Drill factories in Scotland, while Philip Barrus’s sons, John and David, both joined E.P. Barrus Ltd and were appointed to the board in the early 1970s.

Robert Glen joined the company full-time in 1959. His first position was as European sales representative for Blackhawk which was followed by a period working in the United States with suppliers and undertaking management training. On his return to the UK he was responsible for the marine division and in the mid 1960s developed the company’s infant garden machinery business before being appointed marketing manager. He was appointed to the board on 1 January 1970 with responsibility for marketing.

 

1959 Barrus enters garden machinery market.

The Pioneer range of chainsaws introduced in the late 1950s was one of the company’s stable products for many years and Barrus’s rapid success in this area made them the ideal candidate as distributors of Lawnboy rotary motors. This led to the introduction of the garden machinery division.

Barrus developed the revolutionary “Direct collect” grass collection system to cater for the particular problems encountered by grass cutting in damp British weather conditions. This was to be the first Barrus-made lawnmower sold under the brand name Mowmaster and founded on the technical expertise being built up by the company this was the start of Barrus’s new departure into manufacturing.

1960s

1960s Barrus and the military.

By 1960 Barrus had built up a considerable reputation on behalf of Johnson in the UK, supplying Johnson outboards to the Army, Royal Navy, Royal Marines, Trinity House and the RNLI.

Half of the outboard engines required by the RNLI for its D Class lifeboats were supplied by Barrus.

The innovative inheritance of the founder continued with the company’s development under Robert Glen of the first multi-fuel outboard motors.

For over 40 years the company has been building mine hunting outboard motors and the development has kept pace with the increased technology of underwater mine and warfare.

Barrus has been building outboard engines capable of being cached underwater since the Borneo Campaign in the early 1960s. 

 

1966 Wildcat racing success.

Wildcat with Clive Curtis and Brian Brain had many racing successes with Johnson engines in the 1960s.

In 1965 Johnson engines won the MEMA Trophy and were the first outboards home in the Cowes-Torquay race and in 1966 Wildcat with Clive Curtis won the Goodwin Trophy for Class D boats in the Putney-Calais race and the Camden Bowl for coming first overall in the Royal Motor Yacht Club race at Poole.

 

1967 Barrus celebrates 50 years.

Celebrating 50 years, the company was able to say with justification that ‘change and innovation are still a way of life at E.P.Barrus Ltd’. The Shapercraft range of power tool accessories was introduced with several items being made to the company’s own design.

1970s

1971 Barrus and Yanmar.

A significant move for Barrus in 1971 was the beginning of the company’s relationship with the Yanmar Diesel Engine Company. Robert Glen was invited to Japan to assist Yanmar in redesigning their range of fishing boat engines for use in yachts.

1972 Barrus and MTD.

Barrus became MTD’s (Modern Tool & Die, based in Cleveland, Ohio) first export customer in Europe in 1972, and replaced the Lawnboy ride-on mowers, with new Lawnflite branded machines.

Mid 1970s Barrus innovations.

The range of products by Barrus at this time remained considerable. These included Lawnboy rotary mowers, MTD Lawnflite ride-on mowers, Oleo-Mac chainsaws and gas-fired barbecues in the Farm and Garden division; Yanmar and Foden marine diesel engines in the Marine Diesel division; Bushman bow saws and Disston hand saws and Sutton saw benches in the Tool division; and Van Norman brake drum lathes in the Automotive division. Under Barrus brand names, there were lawn-mowers, power tool attachments, nut splitters, posthole borers and measuring tapes and rules. The Marine division handled Johnson outboard motors and Zodiac inflatables.

1977 Barrus moves to Bicester.

The growth of the marine and garden sectors prompted the move from the Brunel Road premises in Acton to a new 2.6 acre industrial site in Bicester during 1977 which was completed in 1978. Due to its proximity to good road links Bicester is still home to Barrus today.

1977 Barrus launch Mariner outboards.

In 1977, Barrus replaced Johnson outboards with the Mariner range and the quality of the new engines coupled with the marketing and distribution expertise provided by Barrus soon saw success for the company. 

At the UK press launch the editor of Power Boat & Water Skiing wrote that 'If the launch was any indication of the success of the Mariner outboards, the rest of the importers might as well pack up shop and retire'. 

 

 

 

Late 1970s Barrus Team Mariner.

Mariner was promoted again through power boat racing and Barrus Team Mariner chalked up an impressive series of national and international achievements with an illustrious line-up of racers.

Late 1970s Barrus pioneers PIRS.

The Mariner range replaced Johnson engines throughout the Ministry of Defence. It was during the late 1970s that Barrus began working on the development of the Post Immersion Restart System (PIRS) engine for the C and D Class boats.

Barrus pioneered the innovative Post Immersion Restart System (PIRS) for the RNLI and the armed services which enabled an engine to be rapidly restarted after being submerged. FAST PIRS appeared in 2001, which makes it possible for an outboard motor which has been submerged and resurfaced to be restarted in forty seconds.

It would be true to say that there is scarcely a single professional organisation involved in the marine business in the UK which does not possess equipment supplied by E.P.Barrus Ltd.

 

1979 Barrus and celebrities.

Celebrities and Prime Ministers of the time including Margaret Thatcher and Edward Heath were attracted to Barrus exhibition stands and the company was honoured by a visit by the Princess Royal in 1976.

1979 Mariner expeditions.

The promotion of Mariner led to Barrus having links with many expeditions which still continue today.

The reliability of Mariner engines starting first time have rescued Robert Glens' long-time friend Colonel John Blashford Snell and other expedition members from some close encounters. During the 1979 Operation Drake it was a bull whale and some ten years later in Operation Raleigh, a huge female hippopotamus. 

 

1980s

1982 Philip Barrus sells his stake.

With the growth of the Marine and Farm and Garden divisions which was in marked contrast with the static performance of the Barrus Tools division, it was clear that the company was at a cross-roads. Philip Barrus agreed to sell his 50% shareholding to MTD, with whom Barrus had forged close links over the previous decade. At the same time John and David Barrus also left the business. Curtis E  Moll, the son of one of the founders of MTD took his place on the board alongside Bobby Glen, now Dorothy Wilmoth, and Robert Glen, respectively daughter and grandson of Mr. E. P. Barrus and Robert Bennett became chairman.

 

 

1983 The sale of the Hand Tool Division.

The Barrus board now took the difficult but necessary decision to sell the Hand Tool Division to an old-established British hand tool manufacturer Spiralux Handtools. This left the company able to concentrate on its core business based on petrol and diesel powered products and to depose of the tools business which had been the foundation of the company all those years before.

 

1984 Expansion at Bicester.

The sale proceeds of the Hand Tool Division to Spiralux Handtools were reinvested and enabled Barrus to purchase the freehold of the Bicester factory and to fund a phased expansion programme during the 1980s. The head office in Bicester would consist of warehousing, engine production and testing, spare parts, a dedicated technical training school and a main despatch facility and storage in a high security area of Bicester Garrison.

1985 Barrus launch Vehicle Division.

Barrus took over the UK distribution of Polaris ATVs in 1985 but research indicated that market needs were not being met by any of the existing ATVs.

Barrus, as a privately owned business was able to undertake the research and development needed to produce a vehicle which would plug that gap. Barrus designed, developed and made the Diesel Barrus All-Terrain vehicle (D-BAT), which was launched to acclaim in 1992. This was the world’s first diesel-powered ATV and the company exported D-BATs to Portugal, Australia and New Zealand.

The D-BAT 6x6 was used in the James Bond film 'Golden Eye'.

1988 10 years with Mariner.

The marine business went from strength to strength. In 1983 and 1984 Barrus was once more awarded Mariner's outstanding performance award for the highest increase in annual sales among European distributors.

In January 1988 ten successful years with Mariner were celebrated with a ball organised by Pep Glen at the Savoy Hotel in London.

1985 Barrus launch Industrial Division.

The Industrial Engine division was started in 1985 with the arrival of the Yanmar L:Series engines followed by the Yanmar TN engines. These engines produced remarkable growth due in great measure to the applications engineering skill of the sales team, supported by the Barrus production lines and test facilities. The division grew further with the introduction of John Deere and Kohler industrial engines and the division has built up an impressive list of original equipment manufacturers including Belle, Selwood Pumps, J.C.B., Harringtons, Stephill, Bateman, Thwaites, Multidrive, Flowplant/Hilta. 

1989 Barrus and the new Farm and Garden Division.

By 1989 the Farm & Garden division accounted for half of Barrus’s business. Barrus had added other product ranges including Harry lawnmowers and Tondu brushcutters and hedgetrimmers.

Barrus’s expansion in this field led Australian lawnmower manufacturer, Victa to close down their UK distribution and appoint Barrus to do the job instead. Barrus was appointed the UK distributor for Victa, in 1991, and a new Turf division was created to promote professional mowing machinery made by Bunton, Mitsubishi and Cub Cadet, a brand owned by MTD.

1990s

1990 Barrus achieves highest quality standard.

The company achieved the highest quality standard in the commercial world, ISO 9001. Today it is ISO 9001-2008, this standard is audited every six months by Bureau Veritas the worlds leading certification body, to make sure that the company are maintaining their quality standards. This dedication to quality ensures that the customers benefit from the highest level of service and technical support.

1990 Management changes.

During the 1990s changes took placed which would shape the leadership of the company for the next generation. In 1990 Robert Muir joined Barrus as finance director and company secretary. A qualified certified accountant, he had been extensively involved in the garden machinery sector as managing director of Ransomes Consumer Ltd, Westwood Engineering Ltd and G D Mountfield Ltd. He had been responsible for setting up European manufacturing facilities and implementation of Japanese manufacturing methodologies.

In 1992 Robert Glen took over from Robert Bennett as managing director. When Robert Bennett stepped down as chairman at the end of 1994, he was succeeded at the beginning of 1995 by Andrew Feilden as non-executive chairman. After a short service commission with the Coldstream Guards, Andrew Feilden had qualified as a chartered surveyor before taking up a career in merchant banking and property management. He established his own company in 1976 and at the time of his appointment as chairman was also the managing director of the London & Devonshire Trust.

Also in 1995 Robert Glen’s daughter Tara became a non-executive director, continuing the family involvement in the business.  An engineering science graduate from Oxford, she was a qualified chartered accountant and was working for S G Hambros, then the UK investment banking arm of Société Generale. She had also sailed the Atlantic and held a yacht master’s navigation qualification. She would join Barrus full-time in 2001.

1997 A commitment to training.

Effective training has always been a vital part of Barrus’s business philosophy for both employees and engineers and technicians from dealers and specialist partners. Since 1997, Barrus has been offering work experience placements and apprenticeships to young engineering students from Oxfordshire based colleges and universities.

1998 1m investment in Barrus production facilities.

In 1998 Barrus's production and engine-testing facilities were reorganised. Two overhead production lines were created and a new dynamometer facility, housing five dynamometers up to 1600hp, was established.

One million pounds was invested in creating one of the world's largest custom engine building facilities which the Barrus company newsletter was described as 'a one stop shop for superior applications engineering, production and final testing'. This included a Safety of Life at Sea (SOLAS) manufacturing and testing facility approved by the American Bureau of Shipping.

1998 Barrus launch the Shire range of engines.

Barrus used its own manufacturing expertise to launch the Shire range of engines for canal boats in 1998. These quickly established an enviable reputation for reliability, with a range of engines suitable for narrow boats, wide beam boats and Dutch Barges.

2000s

2000 Into a new Millennium.

E. P. Barrus Ltd consisted of seven diversified divisions. Two covered the marine leisure and marine diesel businesses. Further divisions covered MTD garden machinery, vehicles, industrial engines and commercial products. The Special Products Division continued to meet the requirements of the armed services and specialist organisations such as the RNLI.

Barrus prospered during the first few years of the new century. The UK economy was expanding, unemployment was low and inflation dipped, this was a period of economic stability.

2002 Mercury and MerCruiser.

By 2002 Barrus was established as the leading supplier of outboard and inboard engines in the UK. At the London International Boat Show, for instance, half the boats on display were equipped with Barrus-supplied outboard engines. The company’s reputation in this field was consolidated by agreements to handle Mariner’s other brands, Mercury and MerCruiser, in the UK and Eire. The Mercury FourStroke Verado, the most sophisticated propulsion system on the water, was voted Best Outboard engine in 2004.

2003 25 years with Mariner.

A happy event celebrated early on in the decade was the company's completion of 25 years as Mariner's UK distributor. 

Early in 2003 a celebratory Mariner 25 year ball was held during the first week of London International Boat Show, organised once more by Pep Glen.

2004 Barrus Special Products Division.

The  bedrock of the Special Products Division was the UK Ministry of Defence, which continued to look to Barrus to meet the special demands of the armed services. In 2004 the Ministry and Barrus signed a Partnering Principles Document intended to achieve cost savings and improved performance, with the benefits shared by the participants. In the same year the company won not only a long-term contract to supply, overhaul and repair outboard motors for the Ministry but also the company’s first contract to supply all the Ministry’s outboard motors. Barrus also designed, developed and delivered the world’s first production multi-fuel 50hp outboard engines. These were able to run on four fuels, F76 (military diesel), F44 (low flash point helicopter kerosene), F34 (low flash point land kerosene) and F67 (standard gasoline). In 2005 Barrus also supplied Yanmar engines for the next generation of UK naval sea-boats.

 

 

2005 Yanmar introduces new compact engine ranges.

In terms of engine technology the marine engine industry, which had been lagging behind the automotive field, now began to catch up. In 2005, for instance, Yanmar launched a range of electronic diesel engines. The first, the 6LY3A-ETP, was the most compact diesel of its type, with constant power regulation, improved economy and reduced idling noise, fuel odour and smoke. The BY series followed in 2006, turbo-charged and inter-cooled, lighter, more compact and cleaner.

2007 From Kohler to Kawasaki.

In 2007 Barrus became the exclusive UK distributor for Kawasaki stationary petrol engines, which replaced the Kohler range. By now the Industrial Division had also become Yanmar’s leading distributor worldwide.

2007 Barrus and UK professional rescue organisations.

Barrus maintained fruitful relationships with many UK professional organisations, for instance, when the country suffers badly from flooding, most boats used by the emergency services are equipped with Barrus custom-built Mariner outboard engines. In 2007, when the container vessel MSC Napoli broke up off the south coast, it was the Mariner-powered lifeboat Pride of Sidmouth that assisted in the salvage operation.

Barrus are proud to supply Mariner outboards for military and civilian expeditions, such as the 2004 expedition organised by the Royal Navy and Royal Marines following in the steps of the Arctic explorer Sir John Ross or the one led by Colonel Blashford-Snell in the same year along Bolivia’s Rio Grande.

 

2007 A record year.

Thanks to a booming economy, Barrus achieved a record year in 2007, consolidating its position as the UK’s leading supplier of inboard and outboard motors, with an outstanding relationship with Mercury Marine and Yanmar, and as the seller of the widest range of garden machinery in the country. By the end of the year, however, there were signs that the boom time was over.

2008 Dealing with the Recession.

The first sign of the impending recession came at the end of 2007. Barrus had to adapt to the slowdown and the challenges it faced across all its divisions and steer the company through tough times. Working closely with customers than ever before became paramount as many were struggling as their sales declined. The Barrus team used their understanding of customers' businesses to offer advice and find solutions. It also helped that Barrus entered this period in a strong financial position following a record year in 2007. 

2009 Barrus took over UK distribution of the WOLF-Garten brand.

WOLF-Garten, a highly respected business, was taken over by MTD, which transferred the UK distribution of the brand to Barrus. WOLF-Garten garden tools with their unique click-system already had a 20 per cent share of the UK hand-tools market.

2010s

2010 Wilkinson Sword and the new Garden Tools Division.

In 2010 Wilkinson Sword, part of the Energizer Group, ended its existing UK distribution agreement. This was an unmissable chance for Barrus to take up an established  brand name, and, as a result, Barrus was awarded an exclusive garden tools royalty agreement for the brand.

To manage both the WOLF-Garten and Wilkinson Sword brands, a new Garden Tools Division was set up. The existing network of commission agents selling WOLF-Garten also took on Wilkinson Sword. The venture was a great success and today accounts for more than a third of the overall sales of the expanded Lawn and Garden Division. Success with Wilkinson Sword prompted Energizer to invite Barrus to take up the distribution of the Energizer battery brand for independent retailers in the garden and marine sectors in the UK.

2011 Barrus rationalises brands in Garden Division.

The recession saw sales of garden tractors in the UK fall. Barrus rationalised the brands, concentrating from 2011 on MTD’s major brand, Cub Cadet, whilst retaining the Lawnflite name for certain popular products.  

2011 New management structure.

When Robert Glen took over the role of chairman in 2011, and Robert Muir became managing director, the opportunity was taken to create an executive structure more suited to a growing and multi-faceted business. For the first time a senior management team was established.  Keryn Clarke became director of operations and Tim Hart moved from general manager of the marine divisions to become sales and marketing director. This also helped to foster a more open, transparent and collaborative approach, not only among senior executives but across the workforce. Sharing information more openly and more widely helped to create a greater sense of a unified business.

2011 New boat ranges boost sales in the Marine Leisure Division.

The Marine Leisure Division suffered between 2008 and 2011 as volume sales of outboard motors fell by 60 per cent. The impact was made worse by adverse exchange rates which drove up product costs by nearly a third.

In a drive to boost sales, the division introduced new boat ranges giving dealers the opportunity to offer competitive boat and Mariner/Mercury outboard engine packages. SunSport, an affordable range of inflatables were launched at Southampton Boat Show. Quicksilver boats were added in 2012, an award-winning range of leisure and fishing boats. AB boats followed, an innovative, prestigious range of tenders and sportsboats.

The Division’s main market remains the new boat owner and those seeking to repower their boats.

2012 Vehicle Division closes.

For the Vehicle Division, the recession came on top of various other difficulties. The Division’s prospects were already deteriorating. Cheaper imports not only undercut Barrus’s market but they came without any after-sales service. This went against the Barrus ethos of customer support and made the Barrus range more expensive. In 2012 it was decided to close the Division.

2013 Barrus Launches New Powered Products Division.

While Barrus was strong in the diesel engine market, it had no presence in the much bigger petrol engine sector. Robert Glen had always been ambitious for the company to find a way into a market dominated in the UK by Honda. This began in 2013 when Barrus took on the UK distribution for the small petrol engines, generators and pumps made by Loncin, identified by the company’s agent in China as the country’s best quality supplier. Despite the established competition, these high quality engines were regarded as having great potential.

2013 Rescue engine development by Special Products Division.

Following the development of PIRS and the improved FAST PIRS™ the Special Products Division introduced the ‘Inversion Protected’ (IP) four-stroke engine. Rather than working on the principle of evacuating an engine of water after immersion, like the original PIRS, this worked by stopping the ingress of water through a patented valve arrangement, resulting in an improvement in start time from 40 seconds for the original PIRS version to 10 seconds for the IP version. The first professional user was Sea Training International Ltd, which offered fast craft training, advice and support to a wide sector of commercial, military and rescue organisations worldwide.

2014 Coming out of the Recession.

Barrus came out of the recession in fine shape. Sales in 2014 were up by nearly a third over 2013. This increased pressure on the company’s existing locations in and around Bicester and the search was already starting for a single affordable site for consolidation and expansion.

 

2014 Bicester expansion.

Barrus opened its new building and implemented upgrades to the company’s production and servicing facilities in 2014 as part of a £2.5 million expansion programme.

The new building created an additional 8,000 square feet of storage for WOLF-Garten and Wilkinson Sword products. The main warehouse was equipped with automated high bay storage and handling systems (Kardex Shuttles), carrying more than 22,000 product lines with a combined capacity of 17 tonnes. At the same time the entrance to the offices, renamed Glen Way, and the company’s car park were redeveloped to accommodate a growing workforce as well as the visitors attending the company’s training programmes. The new facility was formally opened in April 2014 by Robert Glen’s grand-daughters Gabriella Hart and Olivia Newall in the presence of the High Sheriff of Oxfordshire, Tony Stratton, and the local MP, Sir Tony Baldry.

2014 A Record Year for Industrial Division.

The Division concentrated on sectors that were either still growing or were holding their own during the downturn, such as agriculture, telecoms and oil and gas projects. The Division also benefited from the exceptional demand for engines arising from the aftermath of the major oil spillage in the Gulf of Mexico.

A distribution agreement with Toyota Industries Corporation, part of the Toyota Group, led to the addition of Toyota industrial gas engines. The engines met a growing demand for gas engines from original equipment manufacturers and expanded the division’s portfolio enabling them to offer a wider range of power solutions. Applications for these engines include power generation, material handling, utility and access equipment, all markets already targeted and serviced by the Industrial Division.

This Division, being the first part of the company to enter the recession, was also the first to leave it. All the hard work invested in the Division paid off with a record year in 2014.

2014 Continuing success for Special Products.

With a non-consumer customer base, the Special Products Division proved more resilient in the downturn. Its traditional business with the UK Ministry of Defence and the Royal National Lifeboat Institution (RNLI) was augmented by North Sea and fire and rescue market expansion.

The Division grew through other avenues of business. Developing modified inboard diesel engines, originally for the Ministry of Defence, in association with UK manufacturing partners such as BAE and Babcock, led to orders for outboard motors and other engines from several overseas governments, including the Netherlands, Norway, Oman, Singapore, Sweden, Taiwan, South Korea and the USA.

The Division was successful in securing business for John Deere’s renowned marine diesel engines for a wide range of applications including harbour patrol launches for the Port of London Authority, army workboats and naval landing craft.

 

2015 Admiral Boats are launched in the UK.

Barrus became the UK Distributor for Admiral Boats. Robust and durable, these affordable boats are ideal for both amateur and professional anglers. They are sold through existing Barrus marine dealers offering the complete boat and engine package.

2016 Yanmar engines power triumphant Blastoff Racing team.

Barrus and Yanmar helped the Blastoff Racing team achieve a successful racing year. The team achieved second place overall in the world’s toughest powerboat race and a 88.47mph world record in the 46th Annual Coniston Powerboat Records Week. The Fountain powerboat has twin Yanmar 6LY2A-STP 440hp turbo diesel engines.

2016 Cub Cadet Power Shop Dealers.

The Cub Cadet Power Shop concept, designed and developed by MTD, was introduced into the Cub Cadet UK dealer network. This modern, innovative display system creates a strong Cub Cadet presence in the showroom and promotes a consistent brand image throughout Europe.

2016 SUNUS Ocean Racing set new records with Mercury.

Mercury was proud to become a partner of the SUNUS Ocean Racing team and to supply supercharged Mercury Racing Verado 400R engines, the most powerful race outboards, for the SW32 race boat. The SW32 is currently the world’s fastest Class C Marathon Offshore Racing boat and a national speed record holder.

2017

2017 Barrus at 100.

‘Barrus’, said Tara Glen, ‘ has an ethos of continuous reinvention.’ This has been no more obvious than during the last decade. The company has changed shape, taken opportunities and grown up in response to challenges on many different fronts. Yet Barrus is still the same professional business adding value to the products it sells while investing in support and backup for its dealers. It retains a strong engineering focus which is rare in the industry. It is a business full of able people with a passion for their own part of the company. It is flexible, able to respond quickly, good at developing close links with customers and suppliers. It has enjoyed stable and consistent leadership. It continues to have a family ethos with a friendly atmosphere and many long-serving employees. And, after the early difficulties of the deep worldwide recession, it is once again an exciting and fast-moving business.

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Marketing Services Department,
E.P. Barrus Ltd, 
Glen Way,
Launton Road
Bicester, Oxfordshire
OX26 4UR        

Tel: 01869 363636
Fax: 08714 298109
Email: customerservices@barrus.co.uk        

VAT Number: GB226662558

Company Registration Number: 148476

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