Marine Engineering Looe - 60 Years of Family Business Success
1951: Churchill won the election as Prime Minister, King George V1 was still on the throne and Marine Engineering Looe was born. Notching up 60 years of excellent service to the marine industry, the locally owned business will be celebrating four generations of ownership by the Newton family. In recognition of this they will be hosting an open day at their Plymouth branch on Saturday 2nd April from 11am-3pm.
Ken and Jackie Newton, together with their son, Robert, relocated to Looe from London in late 1940. Ken started work in a garage repairing cars and was frequently asked to work on local fishing boat engines. In 1951, seeing a gap in the market, he bought a Looe based marine engineering business who were dealers for Bolinder, later to become Volvo Penta.
The third generation of the business, Robert Newton, joined as an apprentice in 1961 aged 16. The late 1960s saw significant developments for the business. Whilst Marine Engineering Looe’s ties with the local fishing fleet grew stronger, it also commenced its long and still running association with Marine Projects (Plymouth) Limited (now Princess Yachts). This relationship started when Robert was called in to rectify problems with the propellers on the Volvo Penta engines on the Project 31, one of their early models.
As Marine Engineering Looe’s reputation grew for servicing and maintaining Volvo Penta engines and generators, Volvo appointed Marine Engineering Looe as a main dealer overseeing other authorised Service Workshops.
The business moved forward by opening an additional branch in Plymouth based at Queen Anne’s Battery Marina. Now with branches at Looe and Plymouth, a further branch was opened first in Torquay and then relocated to more suitable premises at Galmpton Creek in Brixham (where it remains today).
In 2009, Volvo Penta had embarked upon a re-organisation in its dealerships and had given the business the opportunity to become one of only 12 Centres and 3 Commercial Dealers in the UK. With this new status came a great deal of change, the major part of this was the need for larger premises in Plymouth with the business moving to the current premises at Queen Anne’s Battery Marina. In 2010, in the middle of the current recession, they took the bold decision to open another branch, this time in Falmouth based at Ponsharden Industrial Estate.
Marine Engineering Looe is almost unrecognisable from the way it was in 1951; their engineers now also work in Europe. The vast majority of this work is at the request of Volvo Penta, who value their skills and knowledge. However, two things have remained constant; it is still a family owned business and its commitment to providing a quality service.
2011 sees Robert and his wife Deborah still running the business with the team they have built up over the years, a team who embody the ethos that started 60 years ago. Their son Jamie, the fourth generation of the Newton family to join the business, is now the General Manager, thus ensuring that the Newton name will continue to be associated with Marine Engineering Looe for many years to come.
First Published April 2011 By The Dart