McAlpine & Co’s story began on the 18th of March 1907. Egerton & Co were a London based company who manufactured lead traps and pipes at the Thistle Works, in Govan. James Barbour McAlpine had been Works Manager for the company, and when they went into liquidation in 1907 James decided to purchase the assets. He took out a Clydesdale Bank loan for £250, and borrowed some money from family members.
Installs products aboard cruise ship of Queen Elizabeth I
Throughout the First World War the company managed to keep up the level of orders, helped by work at some of the Govan and Clydeside shipyards. After the war normality once again returned and trading increased to pre-war figures. Based next to the main Glasgow shipyards, between the wars the company installed its products into The Queen Mary and Queen Elizabeth 1 cruise ships.
Company buys a small unit in Kelvin Avenue, Hillington Industrial Estate
In 1946 James Barbour’s son, also James, decided that the time was right to move, and bought a small unit in Kelvin Avenue, Hillington Industrial Estate, The building, still the Head Office today, precipitated an increase in business as the post war rebuilding programmes began. McAlpine are now one of only two manufacturers left on the estate – a reflection of the way the manufacturing industry in the UK has declined over the past twenty years.
First plastic extrusion machine purchased
McAlpine made a really bold decision to go into the manufacturing of plastic plumbing products, buying its first plastic extrusion machine in 1957. McAlpine were at the forefront of using this technology, although being ahead of the curve can have its difficulties. It was a six figure Marley order that came in by letter and, gave McAlpine the confidence that they had taken the right decision to move into the plastic plumbing market.
Wylie Redman, precision tool making company bought
Initially much of McAlpine’s business in the 1960’s was coming from Local authorities. To facilitate the growth, Wylie Redman, a precision tool making company, was bought in 1962, followed the next year by the acquisition of the Johnstone factory.
Purchase of Lindvale Plastics in Coatbridge
In 1969 the purchase of Lindvale Plastics in Coatbridge was made. Lindvale made road traffic cones (the Lintrabol), as well as portable toilets (the LindiLoo), straight traffic posts that fitted into cat’s eyes fittings (the Lintrapost), and a conically shaped dust bin for converting garden and vegetable waste into compost (the ROTOL). A quick search on Google shows that the ROTOL is still on sale today!
Up to 3,000 components were being produced across the three factories
The pace of change ramped up even more in the 1980’s. In 1980, 2-3,000 components were being produced across the three factories. Foreign language catalogues were being created in line with McAlpine’s expansion overseas. From the first the first ever export customer in Argentina in 1932, sales closely followed in Dubai, Montevideo, Hong Kong and Singapore. Now the company exports to 90 countries worldwide.
Mountain Plumbing, USA purchased
Expansion also occurred overseas in a joint venture with Mountain Plumbing Products in New Jersey. The company was then fully acquired, a move that precipitated a change of location to Dallas, Texas. Mountain Plumbing has Product Representatives that serve the USA, Canada, Mexico, South America, and The Caribbean.
Over 18,000 components being produced with over 750 staff
Quality remains at the heart of the company’s success. This along with innovation and product design has given McAlpine the reputation for being a market leader. We now produce over 5000 skus, utilising 150 injection moulding machines. McAlpine’s staff too, have been very much part of the journey. In the 40 years Hillington, our original site, has gone from 85 staff employed to 230 today, and across the company we now have around 750 staff.
Purchase Worldwide Licence for Redback Kneepads
Our reputation in terms of innovation and product design has seen a move into different categories and sectors. In 2022 McAlpine embarked on a new venture purchasing the worldwide licence for Redbacks Kneepads. In line with the commitment to quality, and our straightforward way of working, McAlpine will continue to innovate and create products that provide solutions to the trade.