A select number of the trade press were recently invited to the factory of Crocodile Precision (formally Crocodile Golf) for a behind the scenes look at the new factory and an insight into the future vision and continual investment of the company from the new owners
Ian Howard and Roger Moore extended a warm welcome before explaining the history of Crocodile Golf, the previous owners and the markets in which they operated in - which includes golf, sports and municipal users. Customers include clubs, dealers and trade, local authorities and contractors as well as potential with OEMS (Original Equipment Manufacturers).
When based at Wolverhampton, Crocodile's biggest customer was Dennis Mowers at Derby. A key part of Dennis' long term supply chain strategy was to secure the supply of quality cutting cylinders and bottom blades for the world famous mowers. A management group consisting of six members of the Dennis senior team purchased the assets and intellectual property rights from Crocodile Golf and formed Crocodile Precision Ltd.
The deal was concluded in late February 2015 where the new team began the challenge of moving the manufacturing operation from Wolverhampton to Derby in a tight two month schedule, as Ian Howard explained:
"It was a big challenge to move from Wolverhampton to Derby. The aged machinery weighing almost 80 tonnes was in need of repair and maintenance to bring it back to good working. The processes involved in producing cylinders and a blade is complex and a 'black art' to get things just right. A lot of this know-how lay with the key staff at Wolverhampton some of whom had 20 years of knowledge and expertise.
"Our team consists of four from Wolverhampton who now travel up to Derby on a daily basis. Before they joined us we explained our plans for future investment in the facility, equipment and in them as people and are very pleased that they have bought into our ethos - to manufacture the best cutting cylinders and bottom blades for the professional market with a quick delivery for end customers, dealers and the trade."
Quality, using the best materials, a proven engineering method and British manufactured were all in evidence when everyone was invited for a closer look in the factory. Both the cutting cylinders and bottom blades are being manufactured on site in Derby after an initial investment of over £200,000. The layout is clean and tidy, light and well- spaced so it's easy to monitor quality. Capacity is said to be 10,000 cylinders per year and in excess of 60,000 bottom blades.
"There will always be pressure on people to look for lower cost alternatives," explained Ian Howard. "It's essential to consider the full costs of replacing cylinders and bottom blades. You have to consider all of the labour, grinding, down-time and lost mowing time. Inferior quality components will result in more frequent changes, poorer cut and thus dramatically increased costs. With a typical municipal triple taking anything up to 8 hours for a change-over; inferior quality blades and cylinders are a false economy.
Any commercial organisation is out for maximum machine utilisation, minimum down-time and first class performance. Crocodile replacements save money by less frequent changes due to better edge retention and less wear.
"We have seen some very low quality imported blades especially on golf course machinery and on occasion some of these are not even hardened. Our product is a premium one - high grade UK rolled Boron steels as a raw material and a first class induction or through hardening process making the cylinder marginally harder than the bottom blade. Accurate forming of the cylinder spiral blades and straightening is a 'black art' all contributes to out-lasting the competitors.
Marketing will commence imminently with stands at SALTEX and BTME already booked.
Crocodile Precision is just 16 weeks under new ownership but is ready to take on the rest in the replacement blade and cylinder market by offering quality and service proudly made in Great Britain.
For more information, visit www.crocodilegolfproducts.co.uk.