Alf Belton and Eric Massey established B&M Tyres on the same day as the 1966 World Cup Final. The business originally focused purely on fitting tyres for the local community and was based out of a single site in Bulwell, Nottinghamshire. At that time it employed just five people.
Business boomed with the introduction of new tyre legislation in the late 1960’s, which enabled the company to expand its operation by fitting exhausts and opening additional sites in Loughborough and Mansfield.
In 1983 the Massey family took sole control of the business and B&M Tyres & Exhausts Ltd was born. Eric acted as chairman and his son John assumed the role of Managing Director. At this point the business still focused on tyres and exhausts.
The Company Catalyst
New legislation again played a key part in the evolution of the company, this time with the introduction of a legal requirement for cars to be fitted with catalytic converters in 1993. By 1998 motorists were coming to B&M Tyres & Exhausts to ask for replacement cats, and John saw his chance to capitalise on this fast emerging new sector in the aftermarket.
Limited range, poor availability and prohibitive price points made it almost impossible for the company to source suitable and cost effective catalytic converters, and was therefore losing sales. To overcome this, John decided to purchase ten universal catalysts from the USA and a Ben Pearson manual tube bending machine – enabling B&M to make and fit custom-built cats for its customers.
Word soon spread that B&M Tyres & Exhausts was able to make and fit aftermarket alternatives to manufacturers’ catalytic converters and customers came from miles around. Those customers weren’t just motorists themselves though. Other garages wanted to buy B&M cats to fit themselves, and as the company was inundated with demand it was happy to become a local supplier. The order book soon grew, with production peaking at around 120 per month.
Building the BM Brand
In 1999 a decision was made to shift focus from fitting catalytic converters to making them, and promotional material was sent nationwide advertising a small range of direct fit and universal cats available from B&M. The basic marketing campaign certainly had the desired effect, with calls from up and down the UK keeping the phones constantly ringing.
In the face of increased demand, in 2001 B&M acquired the 86,000 sq ft Reed Mill site in Mansfield, Nottinghamshire. This enabled the company to invest in a full-scale manufacturing operation and the development of national sales. With new focus, better machinery and a dedicated workforce, the quality and quantity of B&M catalysts being produced increased exponentially.
In 2003 B&M developed its first export sales, and in 2004 the company started operating under the BM Catalysts brand. Full scale sales & marketing campaigns began shortly after, and the company soon gained ISO:9001 accreditation.
In 2009, The UK adopted existing European Legislation surrounding the Homologation of catalytic converters. This meant that BM Catalysts had to invest heavily in new technology, processes and improved materials, but also provided the perfect platform for expansion across the continent. Diesel particulate filters (DPFs) were added to the product range in the same year.
Over five years of growth in the domestic and export markets meant BM Catalysts had outgrown its first mass scale production facility by 2010. In line with a strategy of continuous investment, BM Catalysts acquired an additional 60,000 sq ft manufacturing site at Fulwood Rise, Nottinghamshire. This allowed the company to dramatically shorten its supply chain and produce almost all of its own component parts.
This period of rapid growth also saw John pass the responsibility of being Managing Director to his son Toby in 2012, whilst he moved into the position of Chairman.
The Biggest and the Best
Automechanika 2012 saw the launch of the BM Catalysts Premium Range, which was designed specifically for the European market. The products have been well received, and growing sales have helped escalate BM Catalysts from the largest independent manufacturer of catalytic converters, DPFs and front pipes in the UK, to the biggest in Europe.
Recognising its steadfast dedication to quality, BM Catalysts won the Manufacturing Excellence category at the 2012 Family Business awards. It now has a turnover in excess of £21 million, produces over 600,000 units per year and exports to around 35 countries worldwide.
Despite global success and unrelenting growth, BM Catalyst remains focused on maintaining its position as having the widest range, best availability and one of the most attractive price points in the automotive aftermarket.