From dinghy fittings to global market leadership.
When Len Lewery started making Tufnol dinghy fittings back in 1946, not even his inventive mind could have foreseen how his small business would develop to become one of the leading marine equipment manufacturers in the world.
The name Lewmar dates from 1950 when Lewery joined forces with Leslie Marsh, a local plant hire operator to develop and manufacture dinghy fittings. The company set up in part of Marsh's plant-hire shop in Emsworth. It was here Lewery invented the revolutionary Novex blocks in the early 1950's, a Tufnol fitting which took the load out of sheets by automatically locking the block's sheaves.
Aircraft technology enters winch technology.
In 1959 Marsh sold out his share of the company to Henry Shepherd, whose firm made helicopter gearboxes for Westland. It was his finances and specialist knowledge of the latest lightweight aircraft materials technology that proved invaluable in winch gearbox design, which allowed the company to move up-market into the big-boat league at the start of the great sailing boom experienced during the late 50's.
Then, in 1967, John Burton, a keen yachtsman, acquired Lewmar and embarked on a 20-year career, turning the company into a world leader in modern yacht equipment.
Burton's determination to dominate the winch market led him to focus on three factors. First, he brought in John Huggett from one of the best machine tool designers in the country. Secondly, having secured a foothold in the mass boat building market, he attacked the high technology world of America's Cup racing which was coincidentally coming to the boil. Finally, he retooled the shop floor by introducing robotic machining techniques.
Building a worldwide network.
Taking the Lewmar product to market was another challenge facing Lewmar. Rapid expansion overseas saw company sales offices established in the US (1971), Sweden (1972) France (1980) and Holland (1986). Since then further offices have been opened in Australia, Italy, Spain and Finland. Lewmar's vast network of agents and distributors spans more than 50 countries, equipping the company to provide rapid on site service to customers the world over.
Lewmar became a plc in the 1980's and floated on the London Stock Exchange. The company expanded through the acquisition of Navtec and Brookes & Gatehouse.
It was taken over by Benjamin Priest plc in 1987, which was subsequently taken over by IMI Inc, a subsidiary of the Italian Feruzzi Corporation.
In 1996 the Lewmar Group was acquired by Vector Industries Ltd. They divested of Brookes & Gatehouse and retained the mechanical engineering group of Lewmar and Navtec.
Clyde Marine plc, owner of Simpson Lawrence Distribution and Engineering, purchased the Lewmar Group from Vector in a private sale.
Clyde Marine divested itself of Simpson Lawrence Distribution. Simpson Lawrence Engineering became Lewmar Scotland (Anchoring & Windlass Division). This division has now moved to Lewmar headquarters in Havant.
The acquisition of Whitlock, the world's leading steering systems company, in March 2000 was a further step towards the creation of a One Stop Shop for performance-critical boat equipment. Complementing the range of deck hardware, hatches, portlights, winches, windlasses, anchors and hydraulics, Lewmar now supplies leading boat builders with a complete package of products from a single source, with consistent levels of service and support around the globe.
The company's continued success is inextricably linked to innovation in product design and manufacturing excellence.
The technologies developed by Lewmar for today's Volvo, Vendee and America's Cup challenges will be integrated into the mainstream products of tomorrow. Recent investments in sophisticated, state-of-the-art manufacturing equipment over the last few years has been undertaken to enable the company to offer consistently the highest levels of quality in the industry.
Equally important is the continued investment in Lewmar's global support network. The network is designed to support builders, distributors and dealers in supplying, servicing and repairing the full range of Lewmar products giving them informed and comprehensive advice quickly, wherever it may be needed.
A company focused on control.
Today, Lewmar's product range has grown significantly. Yet each product we engineer and market - from steering and anchoring systems to winches, hatches, hardware, and bow thrusters - is focused on empowering boaters with a greater sense of control over their craft. When performance and control are critical, always look to Lewmar.