Supply side: Mills CNC - 50 not out

1 min read

Machine tool and automation supplier Mills CNC has a rich history and this month, the Leamington Spa-based company celebrates its 50th anniversary

CNC, the exclusive distributor of DN Solutions’ and Zayer machine tools in the UK and Ireland, and a leading supplier of advanced automation system solutions to component manufacturers, is celebrating its 50th anniversary this month (January 2024).

The company which, by the end of this year is expected to achieve, or even exceed, sales turnover of £80m for the first time in its history, retains many of the same corporate values and business attributes it had when it was first incorporated back in January 1974 although, in many other respects, Mills CNC is a significantly different entity to what it was 50 years ago.

CEO Tony Dale explains: “Our 50th anniversary is a significant milestone for the company, and the story of Mills CNC over the period, is one of growth and success built on innovation, technical excellence and exemplary customer service.”

THE EARLY DAYS: 1974-1992

Mills CNC was established in 1974 by entrepreneur Peter Mills – and where the name originates. The company he created was called Mills Marketing Services and was located on an industrial estate in Norwich. Peter was a flamboyant character and, if not a visionary, was certainly a man ahead of his time.

Toolmaker trained and with an extensive background in machine tool sales gained, in part, from his time at Beaver Engineering, also based in Norwich, Peter Mills could see, when many could not, the huge potential of importing high quality and reliable CNC machine tools from Japan, South Korea and Taiwan etc., and selling them to UK and Irish manufacturers.

He put these assumptions to the test in 1974 when he made a deal with Japanese lathe and milling machine tool manufacturer, Howa, by taking ‘ownership’ of two machines (Howa NC-7 lathes) on a ‘sale or return’ basis.

Given six months to make the new business venture work, Peter sold both machines within the time allotted, with one of them going to valve manufacturer, Shaw Son & Greenhalgh, based in Huddersfield, West Yorkshire.

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