Timber treatment companies supplying to the garden products sector gathered recently for the GLEE trade fair. Among them was Protek Products, which had a new product to launch, Clear Tough Coat.

The family-run company has been enjoying a busy period of late. New markets include selling its products from garden centres last year and selling to the Baltic countries (the firm has a Latvian agent). It also found time to merge with Tecca Ltd.

Ben Thornborough, Protek’s marketing director, said GLEE proved very successful. ‘We have had to take on extra staff to handle the samples and information packs that have been requested and our diaries for follow up visits are now full for weeks ahead.’

He said many of the orders taken were for its CCA and CCB industrial preservative treatment products under the Tecca brand, which he sees as ‘the start of a new chapter.’

Environmentally friendly

Protek started in 1986 by providing an environmentally friendly alternative to creosote for fence panel manufacturers. It then expanded into varnishes, industrial preservative treatments and now retail lines.

Mr Thornborough said: ‘We have grown steadily year-on-year but in the last couple of years sales have really taken off and from the usual 10-15% per year we are aiming for 35% growth in the coming year.’

With Protek taking over Tecca, a leading brand in the CCA market, CCA industrial treatment will be a significant growth area.

Tecca products were already being manufactured at Protek’s Somerset site and the takeover will effectively bring the production, sales and marketing together in one company.

Protek says it has tripled the strength of the Tecca brand since the takeover. A substantial part of this is due to opening an agency in Latvia to sell throughout the Baltic states. The market there is very strong and continuing to grow, with more timber processing and finished products being shipped across Europe.

Traditional market

Protek’s traditional market focuses on treatments for sheds, fencing, summerhouses, out-door furniture, conservatories and pallets, where it supplies some of the UK’s largest manufacturers. Now, with the move into the retail market the company expects that a substantial contribution to its growth will come from this sector.

One of Protek’s big selling points in its retail range is its ‘one-stop-shop’ approach to protecting and colouring wood. This is the Wood Protector brand which encapsulates a waterproof, fungicidal, lightfast and environmental treatment available in 15 colours.

Designed for treating softwood in the garden, Wood Protector also coats masonry, metal, terracotta and, in some circumstances, metal. This all-in-one treatment is a different approach from some competitors who opt for different treatments for specific applications.

Wood Protector was launched at GLEE 2000. This year’s show saw the launch of Clear Tough Coat, a sealer containing a durable wax which can be applied on top of Wood Protector and is ideal for decking.

Protek has dedicated itself to water-based formulations for all its products.

Mr Thornborough said: ‘We have always strived to come up with a safer solution and it’s always been water-based. The technology has improved so much over the year to enable better, hard-wearing coatings and modern biodegradable fungicides means we offer our customers ‘safe protection’.”

Mr Thornborough said all treatments in the range have Health and Safety Executive approval and Protek will concentrate on European legislation to ensure it continues to comply with all the latest regulations.

Protek has plenty of scope for expansion. Five years ago it acquired a one-acre site in Shepton Mallett, Somerset, and investment in modern machinery ensures that increased production can be accommodated without jeopardising standards.

And where does Protek fit in the market, with so many competitors?

Mr Thornborough said: ‘We are a company manufacturing a small range of products ideally suited to our market place. We sell to garden centres, DIY stores and timber merchants. One of the independents stocking Protek is the Garden Centre Cheshire Group. We are picking up a new retailer every day.’

Working closely with the trade for many years has meant delivery can be arranged in convenient quantities, by bulk carrier if necessary, and generally in concentrated format to save transport costs. Most orders reach their destination within three days.

Mr Thornborough said: ‘The best way to keep customers is to provide them with quality and service. At Protek we have been doing that for 16 years and we will continue to do so. We are really happy with our complete range of products and they will take us securely into the future.’