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Prior to 1972, after receiving redundancy from Brecknell Dolman & Rogers, Ron invested £1,100 in a second-hand Bedford lorry. Using his new transport, he undertook deliveries throughout England as an owner operator hauling a wide range of goods.
It was in 1972 that Ron and Dave Lock became business partners in an endeavour to supplement their income received from lorry driving. They started their involvement with used pallets. Ron would drive the lorry to collect pallets while Dave would repair and sell them to a diverse customer base. They didn’t think it would last but it actually became successful, much to their surprise. They then purchased the site that they had been renting in Hambrook, Bristol that was formerly a petrol station and car repair garage.
The site at Hambrook enabled the business to grow. Older son Martin joined Hambrook Pallets and together, Ron and Martin purchased Ubley Sawmill in 1981 from Charltons who relocated to Frome in Somerset. The acquisition of Ubley Sawmill provided a constant supply of timber for the manufacture of new and reconditioned pallets.
It was at this time that Ron’s youngest son, Kevin, completed his Apprenticeship and joined the family business, managing Ubley Sawmill.
The company’s operations at Hambrook grew to the point where more space was required. The quantity of pallets outgrew the former car repair garage site where Hambrook had started its business. After Kevin’s brother, Martin, completed his Commercial Vehicles Apprenticeship in 1977, he joined his father Ron and started working for Hambrook Pallets. Martin made a big impact in growing the business at Hambrook and Newton Abbot, while he was successfully managing both sites.
In 1984 Hambrook Pallets purchased a new 3 acre site at Heathfield near Newton Abbot in Devon to service customers in Devon and Cornwall.
In 1987 the business moved from Filton Road, Hambrook to a 3 acre new build site in Avonmouth, Bristol. At this point, the company was repairing and selling approximately 20,000 pallets every week at Avonmouth in an expanding network of customers.
A fundamental point prior to Somerlap’s birth was when Kevin became Managing Director of Ubley Sawmills Ltd. After completing his Apprenticeship as a Diesel Mechanic in 1982, Kevin was responsible for the business at Ubley Sawmill.
In 1991 Kevin purchased a 5 acre sawmill at Mark near Highbridge in Somerset. The condition of the Mark site was in need of considerable investment. The early stages at Mark were tough years financially, particularly with the recession of the early 1990’s. Times were very testing for the company.
Difficulties were overcome by managing a balanced commitment of investment in machinery and site development. Kevin took measured risks that paid off. Working conditions were much improved. Pallets, fencing, sheds and garden furniture have grown from strength to strength since that time. Steve Fraser and Ray Pritchard, both Directors, played an important role in the success and development of Somerlap during its 35 years of history.
In 2000 Kevin changed the name of the business from Ubley Sawmill Ltd to Somerlap Forest Products Ltd in order to create a more descriptive business identity. In 2005 the site at Ubley Sawmill was divided into small units for letting.
Somerlap are now in the top 12 pallet companies in the U.K. and continue to expand and develop thanks to a dedicated and loyal workforce.