Long-established electronics manufacturer Electronic Technicians Ltd (ETL) has been acquired in a management buyout with a difference. The Ferndown-based company, which was established in 1984, has been sold by founders Ken Crook and Pip Arnold – to their sons.

Managing Director Stuart Crook and Sales Director James Arnold are now at the helm of the multi-million-pound turnover company which boasts national and international customers.

The company styles itself as ‘a total solution contract electronic manufacturer’ and operates from its own modern 12,000 sq ft facility on Ferndown Industrial Estate.

Stuart Crook said: “It is very much business as usual here as both James and I have been with the company for many years and know it inside out.

“We see this very much as a positive change, a natural progression keeping the business in the family and securing its future for years ahead.

“We are looking for steady growth as we expand and modernise the business moving forward, offering an even more professional approach.”

Ken and Pip will be still involved with the business as advisors, their experience ready to be called upon when required.

ETL, which has a dedicated staff of 50 – some who have been with the company for 30 years – works across the aerospace, automotive, defence, energy, marine and medical sectors.

It manufactures the likes of flight recorders, navigational equipment, vehicle climate control systems, contamination monitoring equipment, rescue service equipment, sonar devices and DNA analysis products. Clients include multi-national companies around the world.

James Arnold said: “We are very much focused on customer satisfaction. We intend to continue to invest heavily in equipment, business tools, services and people, particularly with regard to apprenticeships.

“We offer a uniquely flexible approach to manufacture, based entirely on quality products and service, and we treat all customers, large or small, in exactly the same way throughout the process.”

The third member of the management team is Operations Director Phil Scantlebury.

ETL has an in-house IPC training programme, enabling colleagues to stay ahead of best practice standards. The company also holds Quality Certifications across the industry, particularly those required by the aerospace sector.

ETL was founded by Ken Crook and Pip Arnold in 1984 on the Trinity Industrial Estate in Wimborne, buying its current premises on Ferndown Industrial Estate in 1996 and subsequently acquiring the neighbouring factory in 2007.

Ken said: “It is great that the boys are carrying on the business because they know it so well and it keeps ETL as a family business.

“This progression deal secures the company’s future – it’s 36 years now so let’s hope for another 36.”

Pip added: “Technology has moved on an awful lot since Ken and I founded the business, but we keep up with it.

“The boys are stepping up to the plate and it is right for us to step back and for them to take over.”

South West accountancy firm PKF Francis Clark advised on the buyout with Poole office Managing Partner James Robinson, who has worked with ETL since 1995, helping to structure the takeover deal.

He said: “We facilitated the changes as a smooth process over a period of time, rather than loading too much financial burden on the company and its directors through a straightforward buyout.

“We have also advised on future business strategy, tax efficiency on the constant investment in new equipment, income protection and protection for directors and their families.

“Ours is very much a strong business-to-business relationship rather than one of just traditional accountancy. We have vast experience in the field of family businesses and I hope this is very much helping ETL.”

Law firm Frettens, of Christchurch and Ringwood, advised on the legal aspects of the buyout.

Managing Partner Matt Fretten said: “Our corporate team advised on the buyout in terms of achieving a successful succession and facilitating the retirement of Ken and Pip from the business.

“We were dealing with the reorganisation of the company and the ongoing relationship between Stuart and James, who are responsible for the company’s next chapter. How a business evolves through the generations is vital to its well-being.

“We have worked with ETL for some time and were delighted to have assisted them on what is a very important stage in the company’s history – helping them tackle the sometimes thorny issue of succession head-on and very successfully.”

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