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Even though we’ve expanded, progressed and enjoyed lots of success, throughout the years one thing has never changed: our collective passion for what we do.
The 80’s. A great time for shell suits, pop music and opening a small packaging business.
With just 17 employees, 3 extruders, 1 printer, 4 conversion machines and ambition you could bottle, David Brimelow and Barry Samuels (the original ‘Duo’) set up shop in 1988 with one, simple goal: to build a trusted business with our passion for packaging at its core.
In our first year, Duo Plastics Limited turnover was £1.7m. This meant we’d well outstripped our growth projections.
And so, in keeping with everyone else in the nineties, we did a little home renovation work. In 1998, we invested in an 8 colour process printer, to offer our rapidly expanding client base some higher quality packaging designs. And you could say we also did a ‘Changing Rooms’, to our much roomier, purpose-built site at Miles Platting, which we have called home ever since.
The internet was booming, and so were our innovations.
Anticipating the growth of people shopping online, we invested in specialist machines and proudly launched our Branded Glue Strip Mailing Bags, to compliment the fast-growing e-commerce market. But this wasn’t the end of our new improvements. To make sure we were being economical with our ink waste, and improve on colour consistency, we invested in state-of-the-art ink dispensing technology, to make sure we were keeping up with our clients’ demands. Our regenerative heat recovery (RTO) system ensured we reduced emissions from our printing process by 99%. And finally, to celebrate the new decade, we rebranded from Duo Plastics Limited to Duo UK, reflecting our eye for expansion, and to give our passion for packaging nationwide scale.
Our John Z’s Conversion Machine. Popping out ecommerce bags since Y2K.
After the turn of the century, we turned to greater achievements. This was the decade of real Duo firepower: whether it was the individual achievements of our staff (apprentice all the way through to board level), or our collective business.
We set roots up with GM City of Trees, to replenish our immediate surroundings. We started sponsoring Prestwich Cricket Club, to develop grass roots talent. And we never stopped innovating. Whether it was investing £800k in brand new printing press and conversion machines to increase productivity and output, being the first in the UK to develop bags derived from sugar cane, or setting up a green platform for clients with a sustainability slant, we wanted to keep improving our process, and helping our environment too. And in protecting our world, we also looked to become a bigger part of it. We set our sights stateside, and grew our international presence with stock warehouses in Atlanta, Georgia, Berlin, Germany, Sydney, Australia and South China.
We began sponsoring Prestwich Cricket Club in 2012. Developing talent is always important to us, both in the factory and on the field.
We bagged the award for turnover between £10-25m at the 2013 M.E.N Business of the Year awards (and yes, we scrub up well).
Looking delighted at winning the SME Manufacturer Award at Business Masters Awards.
Our incredible printer upped our productivity and output enormously: a true key member of our team.
Stars, stripes, and a stock warehouse: our new USA digs in Georgia, AL.
2020. A year many of us would love to forget, for obvious reasons. However, for us, despite the grey cloud of the pandemic, we enjoyed quite a bit more than a silver lining.
Multi-million pound funding from HSBC UK allowed us to fulfil our ambitious growth plan, including a 5 layer co-extruder which scaled up production by up to 20%, as well as allowing
increased volume of new packaging products made from recycled materials. We were ranked number 55 on the North West Business Insider Top 300 SME list: a huge
achievement after coming in at 233 in 2018.
As we were still working on site, it was essential to us to make sure our staff had a great place to relax and let off steam. Our new refurb, with a design nod to the 80’s (when Duo began), gave our hard-working team exactly that. And if that wasn’t enough for a pandemic year, we also received a Queen’s Award for Enterprise for excellence in innovation for our DuoOptipac mailing bag: created and developed by our team to provide ecommerce retailers with a more efficient solution to their packaging needs. All in, not bad for a year that most of us spent in pyjamas.
2020 threw us some curveballs. But as 2021 came around, we were ready for a company home run.
We invested £700k into new conversion equipment and improvements in the print department, to help us improve our environmental impact. On a similar green note, for World Environmental Day, we asked our team to put forward their ideas to help contribute towards our Pact for the Planet and make Duo a more sustainable business. This led to over 50 fantastic ideas, ranging from big innovative advances, to streamlining existing processes, and we’re looking forward to implementing as many as we can within our business.
To take care of our immediate surroundings, our team also joined Keep Britain Tidy, to take action on the much-loved Rochdale Canal nearby, where many of our team love to take walks. We cleared over 40 bags of litter in our local community, and their #GBSpringClean event helped encourage people to stop littering and fly tipping.
But of course, it wasn’t all work. And as the country waited with baited breath to see if football really would come home during the Euros 2020, we gave our staff a much missed matchday experience, including some football classics.
Getting our heads together for a more sustainable future.
It didn’t come home in the end, but at least we made everyone feel at home.
Keeping our local area looking brilliant is all part of giving back to our community – something we love to do.