32 CHRISTOPHER JOHNSON & FAMILY
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.