Solar Stripe Serenity
Like us, Brockway is a British family run business. They are known for their craftsmanship. “Embedded in our workforce”, their website states, “is the expertise of generations of carpet makers; the sons and daughters of previous staff carry forward the skills and knowledge passed down through the years”.
With the invite, Darrell then drove the three to four hours west from Suffolk to Kidderminster on the outskirts of Birmingham.
On The Road with Darrell Smith
More often than not, Darrell would be sharing his visit with some other retailers or salespeople. After refreshments, there’s an introductory talk from members of the Brockway team and any new carpet samples are put on display.
Then it’s on with the safety kit and ear plugs and into the factory itself. Given the manufacturing processes, and even with earplugs, visitors are met with a wall of noise from the many machines. Carpets are made using large industrial looms which Darrell compares to the size of a large garage. Looms can produce carpet with a width of up to 5 metres. This is about the size of a Ford Transit Medium Wheelbase.
Before any manufacturing takes place the wool is sourced, in Brockway’s case, by Nick Walley, a descendant of the founders. Nick is passionate about wool, knowledgeable too. Darrell found the meeting fascinating. Nick said they source their wool from around the world for different purposes: New Zealand wool is somewhat loose in structure which is excellent for taking dye. British wool is tight which works well for more naturally toned coverings seen in Brockway’s Herdwick range.
Left: British Wool. Right: Kiwi Wool
Unfortunately, time and space does not allow us to go into the finer details of the production process. We can say, however, that across the vast length of the loom, and the seemingly complicated and overwhelming amount of moving parts, there is a dedicated group of professionals working together as a team to spot the most minor of flaws should they come up.
The many, many threads feeding the loom
Darrell was amazed when, amongst the noisy throng of machines, a member of the team heard one of the threads snap. This super-human hearing ability is even more amazing when you consider there are hundreds of threads feeding a loom. When it occurs, the machine is stopped and rethreaded. The flaw is located and is re-stitched by hand. With five sets of eyes throughout this process, not even the smallest loose thread gets past this team of eagle-eyed professionals.
Snapped, rethread & hand stitched
After this stage, latex is heat sealed on the back of the carpet. Once cooled it goes into storage ready for sale. On receiving an order, the roll is taken down, laid out and cut electronically. Another set of eyes checks its accuracy and is then rolled up, put in a van and sent out for delivery.
Once the tour of the factory ended, Darrell met members of the admin team in the office. Being in the business we are, we speak to these people a lot, often daily, so it’s a great opportunity for both sides to put names to faces.
Darrell reports “It was a great day. These visits are invaluable. What we learn here, we pass directly to the customer”. So with that, Darrell, headed back on the long drive to Suffolk confident the roundtrip was very much worth it.
For more information, please visit our Brockway Carpets page.