In 1965, Ted Dowty embarked on an ambitious plan from the back of a railway wagon on a farm in Cheltenham repairing tractor hydraulics. The company is now a multi-million-pound success story employing around 70 people (within the larger Group) with a customer base that spans all areas of the engineering world – from control valves in Chiswick to a collaborative effort with Branch Hydraulic Systems to create ship lifting power packs in China!
But it wasn’t all plain sailing from those humble beginnings to today’s impressive infrastructure. By the early 1970’s, the company, which was known as Hydraulic Services (Cheltenham) Ltd, changed its name to Hydraulic Equipment Supermarkets (HES) and opened its second branch in Leeds.
However, something terrible happened in 1972. A great fire tore through the company’s buildings forcing them to move the machinery and stock that survived to the refuge of another business’ site on the same technology park.
Through dogged determination, by 1975, HES bounced back from the fire and continued to grow; opening its third branch in Birmingham, then its fourth in Gateshead (which then moved to Durham), moving its head office to new (and current) premises and installing Megamat carousel retrieval systems in order to increase its stock-holding capacity in the 80’s.
Despite the catastrophic damage from the fire, they bounced back immensely well in the next two decades, with many distribution agreements made including with UCC (now Parker), Danfoss, Bosch Rexroth – through their sister company Branch Hydraulic Systems (who create bespoke power packs and design, manufacture, install, commission and service hydraulic systems in various high-performance applications), as well as Hall and Hall (now Hallite Seals), Fairey Filtrations (changing to Fairey Arlon and now Parker Filtration), Hydraulic Projects (Hy-Pro), Webtec and Duplomatic!
There are very few companies that have achieved such a broad range of distributorships with so many global brands under one roof!
By the end of the 1990’s, Ted Dowty retired and sold the company as a management buyout with Stuart Diesel taking ownership.
Ted had grown the company successfully in the 30 years or so since it began, gaining so many official distributorships for global brands and increasing its product offering by such a large capacity before his retirement.
In the 20 years since Mr Dowty’s retirement, HES and its parent company (Group HES) have grown even more, increasing its reach within the industry by creating new sister companies.
HES Tractec were formed in 2000, who originally started selling Matbro spare parts and now specialise in tractor and other off-highway axle and transmission parts and are official distributors for big global brands such as Carraro, Dana Spicer, Comer Industries and Mico (a Wabco company).
And HES Lubemec were formed in 2008, selling SKF Vogel lubrications system parts originally and now offering total lubrication systems and solutions.
In 2017, Group HES were acquired by Flowtech Fluidpower PLC, opening new avenues and resources available to HES, enabling it to reach more customers and help them in new ways.
Hydraulic Equipment Supermarkets are now able to offer so much more to its customers than Ted Dowty would have dreamed possible back in that disused railway wagon in 1965!
They have become renowned within the hydraulic industry as technical experts, distributing excellence.
u + 44 1452 730774 (Gloucester – Head Office)
u +44 121 327 2664 (Birmingham)
u +44 113 270 7295 (Leeds)
u +44 191 410 6619 (Durham)