In 1927, the founder of Aston-based Hills Numberplates, Kenneth Garle, rented a garage for £60 a year, turned it into a workshop and was soon working at the bench alongside his staff of three, producing a new type of number plate in quantities. More news of its history here.
The company now trades as a manufacturer of number plate components, ready made registration plates and the latest number plate manufacturing systems.
When the recession hit in 2008, Hills – like many – were in difficulties. Managing director Richard Taffinder said: “We were completely insolvent but I got some investors on board and also some significant support from two or three suppliers who extended credit terms. We made a few redundancies and went down from 80 to 56. The loss was cut to £150,000 but now we are back to 76 people and the turnover is £13 million . . . We paid off everything that we owed over four years. and made £1m profit last year”.
As fewer new cars were sold, domestic demand had plummeted and Hills needed specialised machinery to attract more export business from some European countries, South East Asia and the Far East. With assistance from Lombard (asset finance), Hills now offers manufacturing systems and a full range of licence plate materials including aluminium, ABS plastics, acrylic construction, the latest digital print systems and vehicle licence plates of the highest standards.
It supplied the James Bond Aston Martin car in the last 007 blockbuster Skyfall . . .