Top L-R: Bertram Eugene; Enoch Wedge; John Henry. Bottom L-R: Constance; Gladys; Enoch Latimer
History of Wedge
B.E. Wedge Holdings Ltd is the holding company for Wedge Group Galvanizing, Hasco Thermic Ltd and has interests in leading galvanizing businesses throughout Europe and the United States of America.
The history for the company dates back 150 years to 1869.
Where it all began
John Wedge (b. 1824) was a publican running the Albion Public House in Union Street, Willenhall. It is here, circa 1869, where he began a galvanizing operation in a backyard workshop.
John's eldest son Enoch (b. 1850) lived in Stafford Street, Willenhall and was a 'Galvanizer Master' who employed 'two men and six boys' in 1881.
In 1910, Bertram Eugene Wedge (the eldest son of Enoch), of Gower Street, Willenhall, died aged 28. It is Bertram whom B.E. Wedge is named after.
Bertram's younger brothers John Henry (then 18) and Enoch Latimer (17) carried on the galvanizing business which, in the 1930s, had two elements. John Henry ran the galvanizing operation and Enoch Latimer ran a vehicle repair garage called JH Wedge & Co.
But their relationship, by all accounts, was a difficult one and the partnership was dissolved in 1935.
A few years before, John Henry had bought Edward Howell & Co, which was then located in Birmingham, specialising in galvanizing nails. (It's now called Edward Howell Galvanizers Ltd, is based in Wednesfield and is part of Wedge Group Galvanizing).
It was deemed a good opportunity for John Henry's son Peter Wedge (b. 1915) to learn about galvanizing and, in 1932, Peter joined the business from school.
Galvanizing and the War
Peter volunteered for service following the outbreak of war in 1939.
And Captain Peter Wedge was ordered by the British Government to construct and take out to North Africa all the plant, equipment and consumables required to build a galvanizing plant. He selected a band of men from the business to go with him.
The ‘No 1 Galvanizing Section Royal Engineers’ was born and existed until August 15, 1945 - the day it was announced that hostilities in Japan had ended.
John Henry Wedge died and son Peter was subsequently released from military duty to return to the business.
Steady progress, including some important diversification, had already begun, but it was not until Peter's spell as Chairman (1945-1987) that the business interests grew nationally.
Jeremy Woolridge (b. 1944), our current Chairman and the nephew of Peter Wedge, joined the company in 1965, becoming Managing Director in 1974 and Chairman in 1987.
Led by Jeremy, the company spread its interests into both Italy (Galvan S.p.A) and Germany (Siegener Verzinkerei Holding GmbH) with investments in 1989 and 1992 respectively.
B.E. Wedge Holdings Ltd has consistently followed a successful policy of expansion, both in the UK and abroad, while maintaining a steady level of investment in its existing galvanizing plants. It also owns Hasco-Thermic Ltd - a leading UK-based international designer, manufacturer and supplier of advanced-technology galvanizing equipment.
In 1996, Jeremy's daughter Angela Curtis (b. 1975) joined sister company Hasco Thermic, becoming Managing Director in 2006.
In 2000, B.E. Wedge Holdings Ltd invested in South Atlantic Galvanizers - a group of galvanizing companies in the USA and, in 2004, it became a wholly-owned subsidiary.
Jeremy's son Chris Woolridge (b. 1980) joined the company in 2002 and became Managing Director in 2014.
In the UK, Wedge Group Galvanizing Ltd has expanded into all key regions, establishing a nationwide network of 14 strategically-sited galvanizing plants. As a result, it is the first truly national hot-dip galvanizing group.
Today, the company actively continues to explore potential opportunities for further business development in the UK, Europe and the rest of the world - keeping a watchful eye out for potential acquisitions, while maintaining a steady level of investment in hot-dip galvanizing plant and equipment.
The roots of B.E. Wedge Holdings Ltd remain very much in the Black Country. It continues to invest in its home town of Willenhall – and its other UK facilities – but today prefers to think of itself as an international business.
It remains a family-controlled company which has a strong, well-established reputation in the European steel galvanizing sector and a growing international presence.