Essex Life - - Richest 50 -

Industry, £83m

Based at Southend Air­port, Cas­tle­don makes avi­a­tion seats. In 2014 its prof­its hit a record £10m on sales also at a record £66.4m. The busi­ness was started by Al­lan John­son who worked at Southend Air­port where he no­ticed pi­lots were tak­ing time off due to back and leg prob­lems caused by un­com­fort­able sit­ting po­si­tions on long flights. He was in­spired to de­sign a seat with ad­justable lum­bar and leg sup­port, and es­tab­lished IPE (In­dus­trial Pre­ci­sion Equip­ment) to man­u­fac­ture the seats for pi­lots, co-pi­lots, nav­i­ga­tors and en­gi­neers in 1961. The com­pany’s big break was in per­suad­ing Lufthansa, the Ger­man air­line, to spec­ify Ipeco seats in the mid-1970s, af­ter which or­ders from Boe­ing be­gan to roll in. To­day the busi­ness is run by Al­lan’s son, Christo­pher. With over £55m net as­sets, it is an £80m op­er­a­tion. We add £3m to the John­son fam­ily for other as­sets.

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