What makes Bri­tish tool-maker King Dick one of the world’s best?

Proof that a sim­ple phi­los­o­phy matched to world-class qual­ity is a recipe for suc­cess

Motorcycle News (UK) - - CONTENTS -

They don’t come any more Bri­tish than King Dick Tools, or to give the firm its full and less com­monly used name, Abing­don King Dick Tools. The last re­main­ing UK man­u­fac­turer of span­ners and sock­ets, they’re Bri­tish right down to the com­pany logo: a bull­dog adopted in trib­ute to the owner’s show-win­ning hound from the turn of the 20th cen­tury. King Dick goes even fur­ther back than that, hav­ing first been es­tab­lished in 1856 un­der the name of Abing­don En­gi­neer­ing. That’s quite some her­itage. Queen Vic­to­ria was a mere 19 years into her reign and the first mo­tor­cy­cles were still nearly four decades away.

The firm has a global rep­u­ta­tion for pro­fes­sional tools. Ev­ery sin­gle one is built to the tight­est of tol­er­ances at King Dick’s works in Coleshill, Birm­ing­ham. At ev­ery step of the process, prod­ucts are checked be­fore pass­ing on to the next stage.

An old-school poster re­minds em­ploy­ees that ‘The Cus­tomer Is The Next In­spec­tor’. The pro­cesses in ques­tion fea­ture such ro­bust en­gi­neer­ing words as bor­ing, grind­ing, broach­ing, pol­ish­ing, mark­ing, hard­en­ing and plat­ing. It’s a se­ri­ously in­ten­sive, hand­built craft.

A con­tin­u­ing pro­gramme sees R&D done both in-house and in real-world sit­u­a­tions. “We put prod­uct out to known King Dick users and ask for feed­back. Even if a user breaks a tool through abuse we want to know,” says MD Griff Roberts. That re­search ex­tends to race teams such as Anvil Hire TAG Rac­ing with James El­li­son and Build­base Suzuki with Bradley Ray in BSB. Then there’s the TT and roads with Michael Dun­lop, although not with his Tyco hat on.

Roberts has been with the firm

for 26 years, with 21 of those as MD hav­ing started as sales man­ager. He was a club and na­tional racer but dur­ing 1992 de­cided to opt for a more con­ven­tional ca­reer. Af­ter five years he led a man­age­ment buy­out. He still rides and owns a ZX-10R, Tuono V4 and a Bon­neville 865SE.

The firm turn over in ex­cess of a mil­lion pounds a year and em­ploy 17 peo­ple. It’s a tough mar­ket but Griff has a sim­ple phi­los­o­phy: “We only make premium prod­ucts that we be­lieve are a match for any­thing on the mar­ket. We don’t have the over­heads of our own sales net­work so can com­pete on price. We aim at pro­fes­sion­als and the more as­tute home users who want qual­ity tools.”

Old-school posters per­fectly sum up the ethos at spe­cial­ist tool­maker King Dick

Griff Roberts has been at the helm for the last 21 years

The scale of some of the ma­chin­ery is as­ton­ish­ing

Qual­ity is checked at ev­ery step of the process

Pro­duc­tion is a real hands-on af­fair

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