Recent years have seen many changes in this local manufacturing firm, but the future looks good for Roland Plastics Ltd (RPL) and its sister company Electronic Terminations Ltd (ETL).

Roland Plastics, purchased in 1985 by the Emerson family, started life as part of the well known Girdlestone concern in Melton. Electronic Terminations added Girdlestone Electronic to its portfolio in 1972. Barrie Emerson, the original owner of both, gradually transformed the businesses to become well known for their dedication to quality and outstanding customer service.

In recent years Roland Plastics changed hands to become part of an US group of companies enabling to Barrie to semi retire and pursue his other activities and hobbies. ETL continues to be a local firm.

Towards the end of 2013 it became apparent that RPL needed to be re-energised, and Barrie encouraged his son Ben and Ben’s business partner at ETL, Jonathan Paul, to bring ownership back to Suffolk by re-purchasing the company from the Americans.

Now Ben Emerson and Jonathan Paul are the Directors at the helm of Roland Plastics Ltd and Electronic Terminations Ltd, and have both been in manufacturing throughout their respective careers.

RPL specialise in plastic injected mouldings producing precision plastic articles for many different industries in all shapes, sizes and colours. Being very flexible, the company can produce just a few items to hundreds of thousands, providing that a tool has been commissioned or provided by the client. ETL’s expertise lies in the assembly of cables, wiring loom and termination solutions, with significant volumes produced for the military and engineering companies.

Ben Emerson explains: We are dedicated to providing a top quality service to be proud of. Jonathan and I lead an enthusiastic and dedicated team of experts with many years combined industry experience, a wealth of knowledge and a problem-solving attitude. This attribute ensures Roland Plastics and Electronic Terminations can be relied upon to deliver the very best service for our clients.

Since then life at ETL and RPL has changed significantly Jonathan states, adding: Both companies are now co located at the Wickham Market plant, machinery has been updated, old customers re visited and the whole site has been given a lick of paint with new offices being built.

Finally Ben and Jonathan appointed a new sales and marketing director, Ursula Austin, who has been the prime driver for changing the branding, website and external facing image of the company. Ursula says: My prime passion is also excellent customer service coupled with a vision to develop sales for both organisations. We know we have a long way to go to get to the successes of the noughties, but determination and innovation will prove that manufacturing in East Anglia can and will survive.

The company comprises of 30 employees, the original team of dedicated and long-serving employees are experts in their own field. Collectively there is a genuine commitment to not only stay on top of industry developments but to lead the way with new processes and surpass industry standards with our own, for both service and delivery. To ensure that RPL and ETL stay on top of their game for the future development of the businesses there is now a desire to attract new blood from within the local community, particularly to work with the tool makers and tool setters.

Supplying national organisations such as the MoD, Highways, and a diverse variety of industries offer a tremendous potential for growth for both organisations. In addition to the UK market the firms also export to the US, Mexico, Malaysia, Czech Republic, Cyprus, Faroe Islands and many EU countries.

RPL and ETL provide another example of how rural manufacturers can survive in Suffolk, supporting the local economy and offering local employment opportunities.

Potted History:

1972  Barrie Emerson purchases Girdlestone Electronics and incorporates the organisation into Electronic Terminations.
1985 Barrie Emerson takes over Girdlestone Mouldings
1990 Girdlestone Mouldings changes its name to Roland Plastics
2005 Barrie semi retires, selling Roland Plastics to MVOC
2013 Ben Emerson and Jonathan Paul re-purchase Roland Plastics from MVOC
2014 A new beginning