Jetstream Project with BAE Systems
Ogle Models & Prototypes' reputation is not only about expertise when it comes to quality models and prototypes – it is a reputation also built on experience that comes from longevity in an ever-evolving sector.
2014 will mark Ogle’s 60th year of operations as a leading UK supplier of models and prototypes to some of the world’s leading brands and the company will be celebrating this diamond anniversary with clients and suppliers alike.
Since the company was founded in 1954 by David Ogle, it has continued to evolve and has developed both its technical capabilities as well as its highly skilled work force to ensure clients get the very best model solution – on time, every time. But even as the tools and the technology have changed, one thing remains steadfast and is a guiding principle for this Great British company – quality. A high quality product supplied via a high quality service, always centred around the client and what they need is Ogle’s dedicated remit, whether this is a one-off model, a product development partner or low volume production capabilities.
The company’s 60-year heritage is, indeed, one to be proud of and each decade has seen the company go from strength to strength, building relationships with clients based on an expanding service offering. David Ogle founded the original business based on his talents as a designer and his obsession with cars, which influenced his partnerships and his work greatly in producing design concepts for the automotive industry. He was also a pilot who flew a Supermarine Seafire in North Africa during World War 2. He rose to the rank of Lt Commander and was awarded the DCS and MBE. Notable brands from Ogle in the early days included the Ogle Mini and the Reliant Scimitar Coupe. Indeed, the Ogle Mini, a GRP bodied two-seater vehicle based on the BMC Mini floor pan and running gear, was designed and went into small-scale production, with a total of 80 being built at the site.
Sadly, David died in a car accident on his way to Brands Hatch in 1962. Tom Karen, who had studied both aircraft engineering at Loughborough and Industrial Design and had joined the Ford design studio in 1955, took over as Design Director at this time.
The company had moved in to its current premises in Letchworth, UK in 1960. And following the sad events of 1962, the following year engaged with a number of new clients from a range of industry sectors, including Electrolux, Paxton and Reliant. In the same year, the then Electricity Council commissioned Ogle to carry out a study for an electrically powered taxi- somewhat ahead of the curve. Other iconic brands that benefitted from Ogle’s services through the 1960’s and 70’s included the Bush Radio, Raleigh Chopper, Bond Bug, the T45 truck cab for Leyland Vehicles (British Design Award) and fire engine maker HCB-Angus, later Dennis.
Ogle continued to invest in the facility and its workforce through these years, growing in practical terms and stature. One of the standout projects in the company’s history came in 1976 when Ogle co-operated in the production of the film Star Wars. The producers, who were “impressed with Ogle’s superb craftsmanship”, subsequently approached the firm with a request for making a replica of a Y fighter and Luke Skywalker’s Landspeeder. Further growth and an increasing workforce saw dramatic expansion of the facility in the 1980’s with a new clear span shop measuring 33m x 12m x 12m for full-scale models. The first large project was a double- decker bus, more recently it has accommodated a full-size helicopter.
The design arm of the company was sold in 2000, however, when Ogle took the decision to focus its business wholly on model making and prototyping. Today, the company’s roots in the automotive sector are still in evidence, working with global brands that include Mercedes, Bentley Motors, Jaguar Land Rover and Nissan.
Ogle’s business model still continues to evolve with a great deal of investment in the facility in the last few years, as well as advanced model making and prototyping equipment and, as always, the team’s skill base. This has seen the company extend its scope whereby clients from diverse industry sectors now benefit from the expert services of Ogle. In its 60th year, OEMs from the aerospace, architecture, medical and defence sectors all look to Ogle’s modelling and prototyping expertise.
Today, and boasting 25,000 sq ft of space (currently undergoing stage 3 of a major refit and upgrade to gain greater efficiency and a better work environment) and a range of state-of-the-art equipment that allows the company to be process neutral, Ogle continue to supply the highest quality models and prototypes to an impressive client list. Technologically advanced machinery, including the very latest in industrial 3D printing capabilities together with extensive rapid CNC machining and vacuum casting capabilities are central to operations, but what sets Ogle apart is attention to detail. It does not matter how well made a model or prototype is, if it is not finished properly it is unlikely to have the desired effect. Ogle understands that a model’s finish can make the difference between success and failure of any project and takes this part of the process very seriously. With a dedicated finishing and painting facility in-house, Ogle employs a highly skilled team that is fully committed to finishing every model to the highest standards, every time.
Len Martin is currently at the helm of Ogle Models and Prototypes, following a management buy-out by the Directors in 2002. His remit, like his predecessors, is wholly focused on a heritage of quality, he says: “Ogle is all about honesty, integrity, service and client relationships. We’ve been in this business for 60 years now, and customer relationships are central to everything we do. We’re not just buy-in and sell it out quickly. We want to find out what the customer wants and find the very best way to make it. I think this is the key to our longevity. We will always keep striving to make better models and prototypes.”
Looking after Sales and Marketing is Director David Bennion: “At Ogle we understand the need to combine the skills for design with prototyping and model making and we have a wide range of highly trained people, many who have had apprenticeships here. We are really proud of them and it means that we can offer our clients the highest quality service based on our no- nonsense, dependable reputation. We have developed some very strong relationships over the years and the proof is that even through the hard years of 2008 and 2009 we kept to our standards and are now enjoying the benefits of a more positive economy.”
While Steve Willmott, Technical Director adds: “Over the years, we, that is each and every one of us at Ogle have accumulated a huge amount of knowledge of how to make things the right way. Despite the very high tech world Ogle embraces, technology isn’t always the best solution. Even though we offer many high tech solutions, sometimes the best route to achieving our client’s goal is to revert to handmade methods. We can still achieve this by applying the vast array of creative skills our dedicated team give to every project.”