Applied Power, a large American business engaged in a wide range of hydraulic related activities began to expand into Europe in the 1960s. One of the many subsidiary companies through which this expansion was effected was Tektro-Webster, which was inaugurated in 1964 and intended to produce a range of pumps and valves in the UK, mainly to supply other wings of the Applied Power operation in Europe.
Within a few years low profit margins and a change of strategy on the part of Applied Power meant that a decision was taken to dispose of the Tektro-Webster business. Roy Cuthbert, who had been managing both Tektro-Webster and its sister company Dynex, and who could see the potential in the business, bought it from Applied Power, changing the name from Tektro-Webster to T.Webster. It was May 1970.
Aware of the pressing need to establish his own manufacturing base, Roy quickly relocated to St. Ives, in Cambridgeshire, and bought up J.R.Roberts, the first of a series of small machine shops with which he hoped to increase his manufacturing capabilities, so as to rely less upon costly American imports.
1970 also saw the expansion of the company from hydraulic components into instrumentation for hydraulic systems. The former could provide a reliable income, while the latter offered a great deal more scope for innovation and development. Within five years a third of business was on the Instrumentation side. Now it is more like three-quarters.
In 1977, work was begun on a purpose built factory in Somersham, about five miles from the office in St.Ives. Instrumentation lived on the top floor, hydraulic components on the ground.
In 1978, when the owners of the Webster brand decided to expand into Europe, T. Webster was required to choose a new name which did not include the tradename Webster, or a part thereof. T.Webster became Webtec Products Ltd.
In the next decade, two smaller machine shops were acquired: D.B.Sidey Ltd. in 1977 and Portisken in 1980. Both were a good fit with Webtec in terms of their machining capabilities; however administration and accounting were made complicated by continuing them as independent businesses. In 1986, all subsidiary companies were amalgamated into one entity called Webtec Engineering.
During the late eighties and early nineties, Webtec focused on its international expansion, opening an office in Milwaukee, WI in the United States in 1985 trading as Webster Instruments, and another in France in 1991 trading as Webtec. A German language desk based in St. Ives was also established, using the name Webster Messtechnik.
In 1993 the Somersham factory was closed and all manufacturing moved back to St. Ives. In 1998 Webtec moved across the road to its current home on Nuffield Road. Consolidating manufacturing, development and administrative activity under one roof was significantly more efficient.
Webtec established a representative office in Shanghai in 2005, to further the development of the East Asian market.
Roy Cuthbert retired in 2006. Upon this event his two sons, Stephen and Martin, who had been on the Board of Directors since 2003, became respectively the Chairman and the Managing Director.
Between 2006 and 2008, Webtec invested heavily in an updated ERP system, additional CNC milling and turning capacity and robotic pallet handling system.
Between 2008 and 2011, due to two Directors retiring Webtec appointed a new Engineering Director and Financial Director and the company focused heavily on new product and process improvements enabling the company to grow strongly, post the 2008/9 recession.
In April 2013, Roy Cuthbert died at the age of 84. On the 5th November 2013 the company completed its world-wide rebranding as ‘Webtec’ and launched a new domain name called www.webtec.com, ending the reference to ‘Webster’ that had existed since 1964.
The old Webtec logo
The new Webtec logo