PRECISION MANUFACTURING SINCE 1901
From humble beginnings, producing its first products in a dark and dusty workshop in Brooklyn, New York, and delivering to customers by bicycle or on foot, Atlantic Service Company has grown to become the global leader. We now supply bandsaws, handsaws, blades and knives to butchers and fishmongers around the world.
Servicing more than 50 countries across five continents, the United Kingdom base for Atlantic Service Company is now at its modern, innovative facility in Newport, South Wales. Recent investment in top-of-the-range production lines means the current incumbents of the name continue to provide a world-class service and a quality of product to be proud of.
All of today's exceptional quality and service was made possible because of one man's vision and ideas from a very different era. Here's our story...
The recent investment in our production facilities and continued commitment to continually improving all that we do demonstrates our dedication to providing both our customer and our workforce with the service, products and facilities they can be proud of.
We employ over 60 people and are looking to expand further as we grow, ensuring Atlantic Service Company remains at the forefront of our industry.
- Huw James, Managing Director
The era of industrial invention and revolution may have begun and gathered speed in the early 19th century, but advancing technologies and ideas, shared increasingly globally, meant that businesses in the early 20th century could still re-shape their industry with engineering innovation.
And so it was with American Daniel W. Martin when, in 1901, he and an associate formed the US National Saw Filers Association in Brooklyn, New York. Until that point butchers’ saw blades were single-piece, permanently riveted devices, meaning the butchers themselves would need to spend valuable time filing blades to ensure sharpness.
Martin introduced a revolutionary saw blade filing machine which changed the practice forever. But it was impractical to imagine this machine being made and fitted into each butcher’s shop, so there needed to be a way in which the blades could come back to be sharpened.
Hence, the logical alternative step to having a machine in every butcher’s shop was to reduce the need for on-site filing altogether. A separate hand-frame with easily removable and replaceable blades would ensure a sharpness and quality that was more sustainable and effective, therefore improving quality and eliminating waste of both meat and waiting time.
The newly designed frame accommodated the now replaceable blade on one end using a hook, and connected to the other end using an ‘eye’. And, thus, the Hook-Eye was born, a name which still resonates across the world as the true mark for quality, longevity and innovation.
Martin’s relentless focus on the customer’s needs – a value Atlantic Service Company still puts at its core today – made him realise that butchers wouldn’t want to pay for and hold lots of stock of the replaceable blades, tying up valuable cash and requiring stock management to ensure they didn’t run out. He decided instead to lease the blades and associated equipment in and around Brooklyn and subsequently the wider New York area. The idea was an instant hit and became the standard model.
Following the Great War, during which business had continued to grow, the company realised it had to reorganise and recapitalise to maintain its ability to effectively service its customer base, which had now expanded right the way down the East Coast, and renamed itself Atlantic Service Co. Inc.
This signalled both its continued focus on the customer and reflected the name of the ocean that defined its operations right down the Eastern seaboard, from the naval and fishing bases in Maine, New England to the southern state of Florida.
Created, as it was, with a product innovation designed to help its customers, Atlantic Service Company has a proud history of being the first to market with a number of innovative and, in some cases, revolutionary product designs. This has allowed the company to continually diversify and expand, responding to the needs of its customers around the world. Furthermore, its design and engineering teams remain central to the company’s strategy and core values.
Special Waved Hand Saw Blade: A faster, quieter, smoother cutting blade proved even more efficient than the original Hook-Eye, which was still the industry’s premier cutting tool at the time.
The Hook-Eye Eversharp Master Knife, patented and manufactured to complement the hard Hook-Eye process plate.
The Hook-Eye Eversharp Chopper Plate – cutting costs and enhancing performance across the industry.
1925 also saw the first expansion of Atlantic Service Company outside of the United States, with the establishment of a limited company bearing the same name in Toronto, to service the Canadian markets.
The Hook-Eye Cutlery Grinder was almost a throwback to the original idea of a machine to automate the sharpening of blades without requiring the butcher to individually file their own blades. The difference in this revolutionary product was its size and practicality, being of small enough dimensions, weight and price to allow butchers to see it as a natural add-on accessory for their operations.
Following the Second World War, much had changed across the economic landscape and the cutting trade was no different. With its vastly improved speed, the power saw had become the dominant device and method for cutting meat. However, it also required far more care and attention than the traditional blades.
Repair and maintenance schedules meant that the service requirements had doubled and investment was required to enable the reconditioning of these power saws in sufficient volume to keep up with demand.
As quicker modes of travel and transport became more prevalent, the late 1950s and 1960s saw further expansion. A Chicago team was now offering services to the Midwest, whilst an additional plant was opened in New Jersey specifically to service the increasingly dominant supermarket trade, who were using more stainless-steel products and plastic accessories, utensils and equipment.
CROSSING THE ATLANTIC
The first overseas move came about with a service to the Caribbean islands established via Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands, before the big move across the Atlantic to the lucrative European markets was decided upon.
The first European plant was situated just outside London, created to service the United Kingdom as well as continental Europe.
From this UK base – now in South Wales – Atlantic Service Company serves customers on five continents, with Asia and South America added to its heartlands of North America and Europe.
Throughout the 20th century growth and ever-changing demands mean today’s Atlantic Service Company looks a very different organisation to the one founded at the end of the Victorian era. However, its unwavering commitment to customer service, meeting customer demands and a premium, high-quality product remain unblemished.
The core range remains intact and today’s products are simply modernised, improved versions of the ones created many decades ago, with a concentration on bandsaw and handsaw blades and frames, cutlery grinding machines, plates, mincers and knives. Additional products are then made available from other manufacturers, carefully selected to ensure quality is to the fore, to offer customers a one-stop shop for all their requirements and to ensure their continued satisfaction.
This dedication to core principles ensures Atlantic Service Company remains at the forefront of the industry it has continually shaped and led for over 100 years.
Since 1980 the British home of Atlantic Service Company has been deep in the heartlands of the Welsh valleys, close to both the picturesque Brecon Beacons and the coal mines and slagheaps of the old South Wales mining villages.
We believe this gives us a great advantage in our recruitment. The tough, hardworking mining attitude is prevalent and evident in our workforce, as is the fantastic sense of community spirit. Moreover, the modern Welsh economy’s reliance on the steel industry provides a great selection of engineers and skilled manufacturers who help us to continuously improve our operational processes, directly benefitting you, our customer.
Wales is a proud, traditional country with tremendous heritage and history, and we are delighted to be building our own little part in that.
Initially built for £1.5 million and covering 25,000 square feet, our plant demonstrates Atlantic Service Company’s commitment to the area and our success has justified all of the time and cash invested.
INVESTMENT & GLOBAL EXPANSION
The well-established company philosophy to be driving at the forefront of the industry was at the heart of the decision to open the new manufacturing unit in South Wales.
Originally the plant was set up primarily as a rental business operating within the UK, servicing the many thousands of local butchers, wholesalers and supermarkets with blades for everyday use. In a throwback to the New York heyday, saws and blades were brought in for cleaning and re-sharpening, having been cut originally on a punch press, one coil at a time.
Then, in 1993, a major investment in a new Normac grinding machine yet again offered Atlantic Service Company the chance to take on new challenges. This equipment allowed us to grind and produce multiple coils at once. The product became a faster-moving, more consumable type of product and within nine months the majority of production within the factory was focused in this area, offering customers enhanced efficiency and availability.
Further investment followed, with the purchase of Alo setting machines and the complimentary heat-treatment equipment. Atlantic Service Company’s transition from old technology to the new continued throughout the 1990s.
Critically, the site we were working out of was purchased from the Welsh Government and this allowed the company to further revolutionise its home. At this time there were 45 sharpening machines for handsaws and 22 further pieces of kit for bandsaw blades. But the focus of the business was changing with the ability to mass produce coil, and having established ourselves as the clear market leader within the UK market, a new focus was needed.
THE NEW MILLENNIUM & NEW FRONTIERS
Atlantic Service Company (UK)’s first export manager was appointed in 2001.
Initially targeting growth across central Europe, we soon moved into Eastern Europe, then into Africa, Far East Asia and are now major players in China, where the superior quality of our products is paramount. Extra space was created for additional bulk storage and to hold stock of key items for customers.
The exposure brought about by being regular IFFA (the leading international trade fair for the meat industry) exhibitors throughout the last two decades has led to new contracts being picked up in Central America and in Asia. Continued investment in core research projects, supported by the Welsh Government, across Africa and Asia helps to promote and grow Atlantic Service Company in those regions.
The last few years has seen further evolution. In 2017, to cope with additional demand coming in from China and the Far East in particular, a further $1.5m was invested in a brand-new production line, using the latest state-of-the-art technology. There was a full upgrade across the factory shop-floor and facilities were refurbished to bring the team closer together.
Now operating with 60 people and still looking to expand further to improve productivity and service, Atlantic Service Company is proving to be everything you would want from a company you can trust – both well-established and progressive, whilst continually striving to provide value for its customers.