The KAPOK 88 Story
If building your own home isn't enough, and raising two young children, my dad and mum (Brian and Linda Annable) had the vision and courage to take a risk and start a family business.
"Although a corporate accountant and experienced in small business requirements, I always wanted to work for myself. In the 80's we took a bank loan and bought the assets of a company that imported, cleaned and bagged KAPOK natural fibre. During this time we were asked by a large Elevator company if we could manufacture a protective drape” - Brian Annable
There the KAPOK 88 story began; my dad had the business vision and my mum the sewing ability. Kapok (1988) Ltd was born in February 1988.
“The trepidation of putting holes for the eyelets in the drapes for the 1st time - all done by hand, we both remember it so well; standing there with our first drape thinking we have to get this right" - Brian Annable
My parents (having sold the KAPOK fibre filling side moved out of the very large factory that housed all the machinery) took the leap and started from home in the garage with a cutting table and sewing machine.
"At the start we used to go to the library, sit and go through each one of the yellow pages listing all the elevator companies across the UK. There were hundreds of them. We sent leaflets to all. We even took a trip to London, walking the streets and leafleting any building with 2 floors or more. At the beginning it was hard, we worked very long hours, juggling work with school runs and family life" - Linda Annable
Along with elevator drapes, orders started coming in for interior wall protection, one of the first being Cabot Hall; a large banqueting and performance hall at Canary Wharf. We’ve also protected a staircase in the state apartments; seat covers on a private jet as well as a couple of top secret locations!
“It also has only been possible due to the team of staff we've had working with us during the 30 years. We've built strong relationships and our business has grown through word of mouth and personal customer recommendations. I think what also sets us apart is we offer a fitting service and Richard, now Managing Director, has taken this side of the business to a new level, along with exporting to Europe and beyond" - Brian Annable
It was in 2006 I started our exporting adventure. I had the same vision as my parents but on a global scale. I heard about an elevator exhibition in Germany, and learned it was the place to be to reach the global market. 2007, my General Manager and I drove the 800 miles to Germany to exhibit our drapes for the first time, and 12 months later we acquired our first Distributor.
The last ten years for us have been about sales growth in Europe and the Middle East visiting potential customers and promoting our products. Our new home at Newton House has been exciting and gives us further scope to continue our growth into new sectors and countries…..watch this space!