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Engineering the future
5:02pm Thursday 17th November 2011 in Innovation
EP Barrus may not be widely known but many of the brands it represents are major international names and leaders in their markets.
Today the business is diverse and challenging as Barrus markets and distributes its products across a wide range of sectors including marine, garden machinery and tools, scooters and motorcycles and industrial engines.
Mariner and Mercury outboard engines, Quicksilver boats, John Deere and Yanmar marine and industrial diesel engines, WOLF-Garten and Wilkinson Sword garden tools and machinery are just a few of the recognisable brands.
Headquartered in Bicester, Barrus is a family company co-owned with Machine Tool & Die Inc (MTD) based in Cleveland, Ohio, one of the largest producers of outdoor powered equipment in the world and a major supplier to the company’s lawn and garden and tools divisions.
Looking back at Barrus’ history demonstrates how the company has adapted constantly to changing markets.
Starting out as a European distributor for hand and power tools, Barrus became an essential lifeline for Britain during the Second World War with the supply of hand tools, military tools and marine engines to the UK War Department and the Ministry of Defence (MoD).
Over the years Barrus has been responsible for many innovative products and solutions including many firsts to hit the UK market.
The list ranges from the first ride-on lawnmowers and gas-fired garden barbecues to the D-BAT, a diesel powered all-terrain vehicle, popular with the military and used in the James Bond Film Golden Eye, the FAST PIRS, an engine that can be rapidly restarted after being submerged, pioneered by Barrus for the RNLI and the armed forces and a multi-fuel outboard engine developed for the UK MoD and capable of running on four different NATO fuels.
Moving from London to Bicester in the late 1970s, Barrus chose the new location for its ideal geographical position. The Launton Road premises are the company’s head office with a storage and main despatch facility within Bicester Garrison.
Throughout its history, Barrus has constantly sought to introduce new, innovative products with potential to the British market.
Today, the company has long-standing partnerships with major international firms representing more than 25 leading brands selling through nine dedicated sales divisions.
Products are now distributed through more than 4,000 authorised Barrus dealers and this is where our slogan ‘Barrus – the power behind the brands’ starts to have meaning in terms of the service and support systems we provide for our dealers.
Our ambition has always been to provide the highest levels of support, from sales and technical back-up, reliability of delivery and effective spare parts supply through to the training of our dealer engineers and technicians.
With technology improvements being introduced more frequently and the level of electronics involved in engine management increasing rapidly, Barrus training courses are essential to ensure the highest levels of support for end users.
But the scope of the Barrus business extends beyond the supply of products through its authorised dealer networks.
A large proportion of business is with original equipment manufacturers, the MoD and other military and emergency services organisations supplying specialist marine and industrial engines.
Our expertise in specialist applications engineering support and custom-engine building has enabled us to offer a flexible approach to the specific requirements of these customers.
Significant investment in research and development with the creation of one of the world’s largest, and most modern custom-engine building facility means that we can build single units and in turn handle volume production runs.
As a company dependant on maintaining a high level of engineering skills, Barrus recognises the importance of encouraging youngsters to take up a career in engineering.
Over the years, the company has offered work experience placements to young engineering students from Oxfordshire colleges, universities and schools and is delighted many are now long-standing Barrus employees.
So what does the future hold for Barrus?
We will always be looking to maintain our core business but equally we are considering new markets and opportunities to sustain our growth.
The recent Southampton Boat Show was the venue for the launch of a number of new products including the Quicksilver range of rigid boats, AB inflatable boats and the new Yanmar V8 marine diesel engine, already in demand by some of the most prestigious UK boat builders.
Meanwhile, garden machinery and tools continue to go from strength to strength and the new 2012 ranges will provide the consumer with the widest range of products available from lawn care, soil and cultivation, tree and shrub care to general garden maintenance.
There are new, exciting products and developments coming along across all sales divisions so while the prospects are that it will be a difficult year for all businesses, Barrus is clearly up to the challenge. * This page is co-ordinated by Oxford Innovation, www.oxin.co.uk