Ideal Manufacturing Ltd.
What town/city are you based in?
Number of generations
Laundry & Cleaning Product Manufacture
Number of employees
WE ARE IDEAL
Meet the unique family-run laundry, textile care, hygiene and cleaning product manufacturer with high hopes and unrivalled enthusiasm.
For those who don’t already know, my dad, Mike Kalli, disrupted the traditional commercial laundry detergent industry as a handsome young chemist in the late 1970s. Taking it a step further, he made the brave (some say crazy) decision to formulate and manufacture the products himself, going head-to-head with the ‘big soapers’ of the time. He wanted to ensure consistent supply, quality and total flexibility… and knew he could do it better.
And so Ideal was founded in 1980. Since then, it’s been a long, bumpy and thoroughly rewarding road. Without any outside investment or external shareholders to satisfy, Ideal’s growth and excellent reputation for high-quality professional laundry detergents and cleaning products have been entirely organic.
What we’ve learned over the years, is that you have to keep improving. Whilst we’ve never been interested in being the biggest supplier, we do want to make Ideal better all the time, to continue our great British manufacturing story for generations to come. This drive for improvement and innovation is our mission: small innovations, everywhere we can, all the time.
Phillip Kalli, Managing Director
WISH YOU WASH HERE
Ideal has built a reputation as the independent British expert in professional laundry and cleaning chemical manufacturer through experimentation, hard work and demonstrating the efficacy of formulations in the field – working in consultation with the folks who use the products. Today they supply some of the biggest and best independent laundries in the UK, along with textile care specialists, top hotels, restaurants and a growing range of exciting white label projects.
We’re confident that when it comes to high-quality detergents, we can give anyone a run for their money.
What’s your proudest moment/biggest achievement as a family business?
There are so many achievements, and one of our biggest failings for a long time has been not stopping to enjoy them along the way. We do intend to stop and commemorate landmark successes and even small achievements more in future. That’s one of the great things about awards – and we really enjoyed winning the Best Small Business Award at Wembley in 2016. It gave us the inspiration to keep going on our journey of continuous improvement – small things, everywhere, all the time.
My dad would probably say that our greatest achievement as a company has been to stay the course when many of our fellow independent British manufacturers have long since sold up and moved on. We see this as a great strength. Another achievement has also been to enjoy working together so much. Working with my dad means the world to me – and every day is a total pleasure.
This year, the greatest achievement so far has been creating ‘The Washeteria’ on site in less than a month! Anyone who’s been to Atlas House (Ideal HQ) in the last few months will know that we’re very excited to show visitors around the factory. Perhaps our greatest innovation has been the idea to make our factory into our showroom. We wanted to get this idea of radical transparency across in everything we do.
One significant new project that emerged inside the factory as part of our ongoing renovations is the Ideal Washeteria, a new on-site test facility and demonstration area. Adjacent to this is a new training classroom too. There’s a lot of affection for our unassuming mid-century factory building, we’ve wanted to make the site into a showroom for years. It’s taken a great deal of investment, tough decisions, hard work on the ground from the production team and genuine belief all round – and we’re finally starting to see it reach it’s potential. By building the Washeteria, we wanted to show that we really believe in wet cleaning – a more eco alternative to dry cleaning. There’s a shortage of real practical skill in the industry and we also wanted to address that. We worked on a layout that was basic but functional and particularly relevant to modern everyday professional cleaning operations – where space is at a premium. When Girbau UK got involved, the idea developed further. We wanted the Washeteria to be a different kind of demo centre. Some are all about selling machines but our contribution is different. We hit on the idea of holding workshops together with Girbau, combining our expertise so that attendees not only learn about the equipment, but they also learn how to use the products, and even get to see where they are made
The Washeteria itself is a complete in-house test centre and working demo centre, inside a working manufacturing facility. It had to be installed after Christmas for an Open Day at the end of january 2017 – attended by trade press, trade associations and industry figures in collaboration with a major international machine manufacturer. Quite a coup for a small British independent manufacturer. We had to arrange to ship heavy finishing equipment from Italy, install all utilities, boiler, lighting, new ceiling, plumbing – as well as commission, test and get training on the equipment. The Washeteria itself is a triumph – and it was a real mark of the togetherness of the entire team that in the days leading up to the demo day, we had the Technical Director sweeping the floor. The MD and Operations Director down at B&Q choosing furnishings and succulents for the newly renovated bathrooms, the Quality Manager bringing in accessories from her home and the factory staff re-painting the toilets, putting up tiles and arranging and re-arranging the hand soap for guests. It was a blast. It was so successful, we’re doing another in April – and we’ve given no end of factory tours since. It has created a real pride in the building, it’s appearance – and a sense of togetherness.
MAKING IT IN BRITAIN
Walk into the robust mid 20th-century factory building, tucked away from the main road, on the outskirts of Finedon, surrounded by the bright yellow rapeseed fields of Northamptonshire, and you’ll notice some impressive changes are taking place…
As the morning sun pours in through the skylights, one of the production team is checking an order on the loading bay, whilst another program the pallet wrap machine. A gleaming electric pallet lifter rolls quietly between the neatly organised warehouse racking, ready to load a line of waiting for articulated lorries with bulk containers of laundry detergent, starch, ancillaries and specialist textile care products. Formulated, manufactured and packaged on the premises, Ideal’s products are delivered to customers all across the UK, Europe – and increasingly much further afield!
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