David Ross surveys an alphabetical list of bookmaker clients for whom his company has provided goods of one form or another. He rattles off two dozen names and hasn’t got beyond those starting with ‘Bet’. That’s not surprising, given that the list extends well into three figures.
It’s a list that includes Coral, Betfred, Paddy Power, David Pluck, Stan James, Bruce Betting, Corbetts, Chisholms, plus a host of smaller independents, along with some in Ireland such as Bar One and Bambury Bookmakers.
Established in 1990, this year sees David Ross Fabrications Ltd celebrate their quarter-century, 25 years in business – and for 23 of those they’ve been providing metalwork to the betting industry.
They’ve built a reputation for producing a wide range of high-quality products, everything from wall boards to light boxes, waste bins to pen and betting slip dispensers, paper racks to poster frames, leaner tables to shelf brackets – in short, pretty much everything that comes in fabricated steel.
In addition to their extensive catalogue of existing products, they can also design, develop and manufacture products to bespoke specifications.
Situated on Peckleton Lane Business Park, midway between Leicester and Hinckley, David Ross Fabrications Ltd was launched on November 5, 1990 after its eponymous founder had been made redundant from his job as a sales rep for a metal fabrication company.
In partnership with his wife Jean, David bought out a small business which provided goods to Burley Appliances who made wrought iron grilles for electric fires. They retained three of its employees and began making point of sale materials in powder coated fabricated steel.
Two years later they landed their first job within the betting industry, making ‘open’ and ‘closed’ signs for Coral displaying their opening hours.
Their big break came through Darren Brown of Browns of Southport, who was then fitting Bet365 shops and started using David’s metalwork in his shop designs. He indicated that there was nobody out there who supplied metalwork for betting shops and emphasised the need to advertise. He was instrumental in persuading David and Jean to place adverts with BOS and to attend the Betting Show, which was then being staged at Birmingham’s Motorcycle Museum.
From those original three employees they have now expanded to a workforce of 23 people. Having started in a small factory on another part of the Peckleton site, they now have a fully-equipped sheet metal, fabrication and welding facility housed in a modern unit of some 8,000 square feet, with an on-site workshop where the powder coating is added to the fabricated steel. There’s a separate storage and packing unit on the site, and in September they installed a state-of-the-art laser cutting machine.
Today the betting shop industry accounts for around 50 per cent of what they do. They manufacture shop display equipment, point of sale and exhibition equipment. They have a wide range of accessories including clothing racks, shelves, handrails, poster frames, free standing and illuminated displays.
Previous customers have included WH Smith, Morrisons and Vodafone. Nowadays they do work for a range of clients including Next and Casio via local design houses around Leicestershire.
Working through design houses they’ve just completed the latest in a series of refits for Liverpool Football Club’s shop, providing all the metalwork. In addition they supply fittings to Currys and Dixons and there’s the prospect of a couple more major name shops on the horizon.
“A lot of the smaller independent bookmakers now like the waste bins with their name on,” responds David when asked to name the most noticeable recent betting shop innovation.
“We supply coupon holders, any variation on slip holders, poster panels for the windows, privacy screens between machines. We make any brackets to suit all types of screens, LED or plasma, and we can tailor to individual requirements – quantities, colours, whatever. If it’s in metal we can make it.”
David spent ten years working for his father learning the sheet metalwork trade.
“The company was called DKL, based in Leicester,” he recalls. When my dad retired I went repping for a couple of years but having seen my dad have his own business, it was always the case that I wanted to have my own business as well.”
And there’s every chance of a further generation taking over the reins at some point in the future for David and Jean’s son, Olly, 24, joined the company in June last year and is learning the business from out on the shop floor. He may also lead David Ross Fabrications into an area in which they acknowledge they’ve not so far exploited.
Says Jean: “He’s thinking laterally and hopefully he’ll bring some modern social media-type input into the business.”
That would surely be a positive move geared to ensure the continued success of the business as it begins its second quarter-century.