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INTERVIEW: John Squire - BikeBiz

INTERVIEW: John Squire

Squire is a business that has been run by eight generations of the Squire family. Mark Sutton interviews current boss John Squire on what it's like to run a company that has been keeping property safe and secure for 227 years...
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WITH such a wealth of family experience behind him it's hardly surprising that John Squire is confident in his business. Henry Squire and Sons has been stressing would-be thieves for a startling 227 years.

Cycle security, according to Squire, will be developed to eliminate the stereotyped inconvenience of lugging around a hefty chain. The lock of the future will be a blend of technology and precision engineering.

Squire says: "The cycle security industry has seen a strong growth, particularly in urban areas, London for example. The rural cyclist however, has the tendency to go with the lightweight cable locks that are convenient to carry and easy to secure a large part of the cycle with. Chances are if your bike is going to be stolen it will be within an urban area where crime rates are higher, so the urban cyclist tends to go with both heavy duty and cable locks to secure their bikes."

Squire may be a quintessential British firm but in 2006 it partnered with Germany’s Trelock to strengthen its presence in the cycle market. The partnership allowed Squire to jointly develop and market cycle locks and ultimately utilise the knowledge of the German company. And it’s an expansion away from just locks. Becoming the UK distributor for Trelock also meant Squire took on cycle computers, accessories and a range of cycle lights.

Looking forward Squire says the company has plans to develop and test a range of innovative new key locks which, in response to consumer feedback, have thrown up the idea of serving multiple purposes. For example, a made to order, custom-built lock and key could potentially open the owner’s garage and shed as well as multiple locks belonging to the owner.

Among other ideas Squire is toying with, comes electronic locks capable of being unlocked by multiple people, yet programmable so there is a certain time window in which the lock can be used.

The company has been building customised locks for years and supplying directly to the consumer, as well as working with Bob Elliot & Co., which exclusively distributes the Squire brand into the bike trade.

“As long as the huge promotion of cycling continues so will the growth,” reveals Squire. “Something I have found with the cycling industry is that thieves can easily be deterred if the bike is secured in more than one place, especially if secured with a brand-name lock. Our range of locks pass at all levels of the Sold Secure Standards, including the gold award, which means a lock will last a minimum of five minutes of strenuous attack by a professionally armed thief."

The locks produced by Squire endure a range of strengthening processes followed by rigorous testing before the design hits the market.

"We can design an impregnable lock with ease, the thing is it would likely be too heavy to market. We put our metals through hardening processes and strengthen vulnerable areas heavily. We ensure that, whether it be a D-lock or a chain, that each lock is a formidable opponent for a thief."

Of course, no lock is ever guaranteed to hold out against a detemined thief with tough bolt croppers, but locks buy time and this needs to be stressed to consumers.

"Assuming IBDs are clued up to the kind of bike the consumer rides, they can offer advice that will further prevent crime. Bikes should always be fastened to a firmly grounded object. Just because your bike is fastened it will not prevent thieves from cutting the railing apart."

Squire recommends all IBDs should be selling multiple locks to customers: "All cycles should be locked up with more than one lock. There's a huge market for stolen bicycles; it's literally no cost, instant profit. Personally, I believe that even in the home people need to take more care in locking valuables away.

Cycles are normally kept in sheds which are easily penetrated and what's more, thieves no longer bother picking a lock; they have become far too good at breaking doors down in seconds to get what they want."

After 227 years on the same site, Squire this year moved to the Hilton Cross industrial area in Featherstone, Wolverhampton. William Squire began making locks on the present site in the mid 18th century and by the time his son, Thomas, joined him his locks were well known enough for the company to be incorporated in 1780. The company thrived in the Industrial Revolution supplying locks – and other goods – for use in the Napoleonic Wars.

By the end of the 19th century the company, which had used all its available land to build new factory space, bought an adjacent three-acre field on which it built a new factory to supply the increasing demand for its products. Its main products were door locks, padlocks and furniture locks.

The First World War saw the company manufacturing munitions. In the Second World War the company made precision gauges, machine gun links and torpedo parts, as well as some padlocks.

After the war, the company expanded its padlock range and added bicycle and motorcycle locks and accessories, as well as hardware products. Approximately a fifth of Squires sales are related to the cycle security industry.

Squire currently manufactures its locks in China as part of a joint venture.

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