The company was originally founded in Glasgow as J&G Hardie Limited and initially supplied the baking industry with all its core ingredients.
This photograph shows current MD, Fergus Hardie’s, Great Uncle Jim and Grandfather Graeme, the founders of the business in 1924.
In the early 1930’s, the company was appointed as Sales Agent for the Anchor Chemical Company who made rubber compounding chemicals. This started an involvement in the UK rubber industry which was to run for many years and would eventually lead the company into plastics.
The business was later taken over by the second generation – Graemes’ sons : brothers Bonar, Hamish and Donald Hardie, who all worked in the business together at one stage, from the offices at 9 Woodside Terrace at Charing Cross in Glasgow.
The Company was appointed as Agent for a London based company called Revertex, who produced synthetic rubber compounds. These compounds were widely used in the textile industry for backing carpets and the company became the largest supplier to the sector in Scotland.
Bonar concentrated on the rubber industry, whilst Donald was to lead the company into the fast growing plastics sector.
Graeme Hardie had earlier Chaired the Scottish Rubber Institute in Scotland before Bonar Hardie went on to Chair the inaugural Scottish Plastics & Rubber Institute. Donald went onto lead the organisation for several years in the late 1970’s and was later made a Fellow of the Institute of Materials in London.
In 1961 Anchor formed a Joint Venture with Marbon Chemical of the USA to establish a plant at Grangemouth to make thermoplastics – Marbon Cycolac ABS.
ABS was one of the earliest engineering plastics available and started being used in a huge number of applications such as telephones and business machines. Between 1961 and 1967, global sales for Cycolac jumped 350%, cornering half the market in ABS resins.
Hardies were closely involved with the sale of Cycolac to Hoover for their vacuum cleaners which were manufactured in Cambuslang near Glasgow and also to NCR in Dundee for their early cash register machines. Another major customer at that time was the Singer Sewing Machine company in Clydebank.
The company was also responsible for the sales of Cycolac to the Irish market with Krups (food blenders) being their largest customer.
Cycolac was then acquired by Borg Warner Chemicals, and then sold on again to General Electric (GE) Plastics in 1988. Hardies continued as the Sales Agent for both companies until 1999. (In 2007 GE Plastics was acquired by SABIC from Saudi.)
Hardies continue to offer Cycolac ABS to our customers to this day, along with a vast range of other engineering polymers.
From 1990 until around 2007, whilst continuing their raw material sales, the company became heavily involved in the sales of injection moulding machines and ancillary equipment.
As the sales agent for Mannesmann Demag Hamilton (now Sumitomo Demag) for nearly 20 years, Hardies were extremely successful and became the top selling machine brand in Scotland, Northern Ireland and the North East of England.
During this period, they were also agents for companies such as Jenco Controls, Wittmann Robotics, Mattec and Golding Machinery (Nova Frigo) and again achieved record sales in the territory.
The injection moulding sector in Scotland saw huge growth in the 1990’s, particularly with the arrival of Motorola at Easter Inch, Bathgate. The plant became one of the largest manufacturing sites for mobile phones in Europe, employing over 3000 people and many of Hardies customers were moulding for the firm.
After 2007, with the market in real decline, the company decided to exit the machine sales market and to concentrate solely on their polymer sales. This paid dividends and in 2014 following several years of steady growth, the company became the first independent distributor in the UK to win the highly coveted Plastics Industry Award for ‘Polymer Distributor of the Year’.
Fergus Hardie the current Managing Director was appointed President of the Scottish Plastics & Rubber Association in 2010 and 2011. In 2012 he became Vice Chairman of the Polymer Distributors and Compounder’s Group at the British Plastics Federation in London. In 2016, he was awarded a Fellowship of the Institute of Materials, Minerals and Mining.
With an expanding team, they moved to larger modern offices in Clydebank in 2014 and continued to grow their customer base across the whole of the UK.
After 95 years in business, they have learnt much along the way and look forward to the future with confidence!