The History of West Mercia Sections...

Take a walk down memory lane, feel free to read through nearly 50 years of our companies history from its humble beginnings back in the 1960's, up to the present day...


How it all began....

Back in the very early 1960s a Mr. William Bissell ('Billy Bissell' to his close friends) was hard at work for George Whitehouse Ltd in Kidderminster, turning the lathes and building mills for his then employer, he was good at his job, but the daily grind was beginning to take its toll, there had to be more to life than this, there had to be another way...


Like many of us, he had higher aspirations, he dreamt of financial security for him and his family, being his own boss, being in control of his own life, having the freedom to do what he wanted, when he wanted, all of the things that a successful business can bring, then the penny dropped, he knew he had to leave his job, he knew he had to go it alone...

Having discussed it with his family, the seed was sown, this is what he wanted to do, so he started to look for a business premises to work from part time, turning rolls whilst maintaining his current job. He decided on a rather small, humbling little place in the old railway stable opposite the Bush pub in Tipton (now the Barge & Barrel), and it was there that Dudley Roll & Tool Co. was born.


Dudley Roll & Tool Co...

The world of self-employment can be very cruel, it's a hard place for the new kid on the block, and working part time out of his small stable unit in Tipton with just the three lathes, Bill struggled to make Dudley Roll & Tool Co. pay. When he finally left Whitehouse's, (on very good terms), a good friend of his at the company, Errol Wilson, was kind enough to put work Bills way (as Bill's expertise in the field was second to none and Whitehouse's needed it), but the work was slow and Bill found it was hard to prise more of his old clients away.


He found himself questioning if he'd made the right decision, but after a bit of deliberation he decided to pull himself together, realising that he and he alone was going to have to make it happen. He started to telephone around, he became a salesman as well as a roll turner/toolmaker, a receptionist and everything else you have to be to start doing business on your own.


We all know that the West Midlands was once the industry capital of the country, and Bill realised this, he knew there was work out there, and his persistent telephone calls and visits to potential customers were starting to pay off. Slowly but surely Bill started to win his old contacts round, and some new ones, he started to get work, and then some more work, he had to take on a couple of employees on to help him cope, things were starting to look up. He was a strong and confident character, and because of this, his work was beginning to get recognised, he was building himself a reputation for quality. By the late 1960s as the workload began to increase further, he realised he needed a bigger premises, and after looking for somewhere bigger and more suitable to cope with the increasing workloads, he found a plot of land on Nicholls Road in Princes End, this was to be the new premises for Dudley Roll & Tool Co.

Over the next few years the business continued to grow, Bill was starting to realise his dream, and as his workload increased so did his list of employees, he was building up quite a workforce of new up and coming toolmakers as well as some more experienced ones.


Now we all know that having a good reputation in business is very important, and back in the early 1970s before computers, email, the internet and everything else we take for granted in today's world, word of mouth was one of the most popular ways to get work, business was conducted on recommendation and Bill was beginning to become recognised nationally and even internationally, he even had a nickname in the trade as 'The Doctor'!


Whilst on holiday in Germany in the early to mid 1970s, he came across some people installing a roller shutter door on a shop front. He got talking to them about it and they told him that shutters were becoming more and more popular as a security measure, it was then he realised that not only should Dudley Roll & Tool Co. make the mills and turn rolls, they should keep some of their own mills and produce rolls to supply the growing roller shutter industry...


Rolled Sections (Dudley) Ltd...

When he got back from his trip he set about turning his idea into a reality, and by 1975 Bill had formed Rolled Sections (Dudley) Ltd, a sister company to Dudley Roll & Tool Co. Because of Bills reputation and because of his contacts within the industry, Rolled Sections (Dudley) Ltd over the next few years started to supply heavily to the construction, security and electrical industries, as well as gaining contracts with the aircraft, car and shipbuilding industries, more and more sections were being designed and rolled.


(Click the link for an article written by Black Country Entertainer Harry Harrison for the Midland Chronicle about Bill and Dudley Roll & Tool Co. in the August 1976... Warning - This may be difficult to read if you're not fluent in the Black Country lingo! - Midland Chronicle article August 1976... )


By the late 1970s, Rolled Sections (Dudley) Ltd had expanded to a point where further extensions to the premises were required, in 1979 a purpose built tool room was built to the rear of the property, this was specifically designed to cope with the demand for new section and mills as well as the internal maintenance demands on the business.

Over the next few years, Dudley Roll & Tool Co. and Rolled Sections (Dudley) Ltd went from strength to strength, supplying locally, nationally and internationally, across Europe and as far as Saudi Arabia and South Africa, both of Bills companies were the place to go for all you tooling and cold rolled section needs.


West Mercia Sections Ltd...

By 1983, Bill decided that Rolled Section (Dudley) Ltd be rebranded as West Mercia Sections Ltd and Dudley Roll & Tool Co. West Mercia Sections carried on where Rolled Sections (Dudley) left off, supplying the construction, security and electrical industries the best quality cold rolled steel section. It was around this time that Bills daughter Julie and his son-in-law Robert Tuckey ('Bob') entered the fray to continue all the hard work and endeavour that had been put into building the business from its humble beginnings in the old railway stable.


In the late 1980s, after gaining many more customers because of that endeavour, Bill (with Dudley Roll & Tool Co.) and Bob & Julie Tuckey (with West Mercia Sections), it was decided that it was time to expand further. So in 1988 an application was placed to the council which was approved and work began on a new extension. Two years later a new modern building premises was finished, doubling the floor space, it included a 10000sqft factory and a two floor 1200sqft office block.


This proved to be a very successful expansion, as the new floor space allowed for larger quantities of stock to be stored, and the installation of an overhead crane meant that loading customers could be done quickly and efficiently. Three more brand new state of the art mills were also built to service the demand for section, as well as providing safe and secure internal parking for West Mercia Sections Ltd transport fleet.

In 1996, after many years of trying, Bill finally managed to achieve one of the goals he had set himself since he started out. His friend Errol Wilson who used to work with him at Whitehouse's in the early 1960s was about to retire. Bill had tried for years to get Errol to join him as he knew how skilled Errol was in the tooling field, and for over 30 years or so they had built up a great working relationship and friendship together. Because Bill had heard that Errol was about to retire he seized his chance, he asked Errol to join him at West Mercia Sections and told him that this time he wasn't going to take no for an answer, and Errol accepted.


By this time Bill was starting to take more of a back seat within the business, for nearly 40 years he had driven the company forward through plenty of ups and nearly as many downs but because of his hard work he knew that West Mercia Sections had a fighting chance. He also knew he was leaving the company in the safe hands of Bob, Julie and Errol, who continued to drive West Mercia Sections forward under his guidance and experience, again shipping mills and section worldwide as well as servicing the local and national customers that had been gained over the years.


Sadly Bill passed away in 2005. It was the end of an era, he was a great man in every sense of the word, he was very intelligent, a great engineer and had a good business brain, he was strong, confident and not afraid of a bit of work hard. He will be sorely missed by all his family and friends, and anyone else who was privileged enough to meet him over his career...


Bills legacy lives on at West Mercia Sections Ltd, he was an example to all that with a little belief and lots of hard work you can achieve whatever goals you set yourself for your life. West Mercia Sections Ltd & Dudley Roll & Tool Co. owe him an immense amount of gratitude for the time, effort and graft he had put into the company over the years. Without Bill, his close friends and loyal employees, the ones who stuck with him over the years through the good times and the bad, the company may not exist today...

In 2008, 12 years after Errol had been head-hunted by Bill, he finally decided that it was his time to retire and reap the rewards of a long and successful career in the Tooling and Steel Section Trade. Again, Errol built a career out of honesty, he was and still is the man that our customers loved to talk to, if Errol didn't know something about this industry, it wasn't worth knowing! He passed on, as did Bill, over 50 years of knowledge and experience within the industry to the current crop of employees at West Mercia Sections Ltd.


And now we reach the present day, with West Mercia Sections Ltd still under the guidance of Bob Tuckey, who has nearly 30 years of experience in the industry. He has been part of West Mercia Sections Ltd since its beginnings in the early 1980s, and like Errol, if there is something he doesn't know about the trade, its not worth knowing! Bob who has a vast engineering background brought his son Robert Jnr into the business 12 years ago, giving him the opportunity to learn from some of the most conversant and experienced people in the Tooling and Steel Forming Industry today. Rob spent 5 years working on the shop floor before moving into the office around 7 years ago under the wing of Errol and his father. Rob was fortunate enough to spend time with his grandfather Bill whilst on the shop floor learning the secrets of successful roll turning, tooling and section rolling and again with Errol and his father in the office, learning how to manage and run the business successfully.


Who knows what the future holds for West Mercia Sections Ltd, all we do know is that the business has been built with a solid foundation, from its modest beginning in a old railway stable nearly 50 years ago to a 20000sqft modern factory and offices today. West Mercia Sections Ltd has shown it is a business with longevity, run by experienced and honest people that can be trusted to put the customer first.


Thank you for taking the time to read through our companies history, nearly half a century in the tool and roll forming trade, we hope that you enjoyed it and we look forward to maybe working with you in the very near future...


Thank you on behalf of all at West Mercia Sections Ltd.



 

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