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Certikin Celebrates 50 Years In The Fast Lane



n this, the first of a two part review of Certikin’s past, present and future, SPN takes a look at its origins and the people that have shaped its destiny. 1963 was the year that Martin Luther King, Jr. gave his famous ‘I Have a Dream’ speech and in the UK, a certain gentlemen by the name of Brian Stannah (of Stannah stair lift fame) also had a dream. A dream which he put in motion by setting up a company called Certikin in the unassuming surroundings of a basement in East Grinstead. Even in his wildest dreams it is doubtful that he would have conceived that such humble beginnings would be the birthstone of the UK’s largest wet leisure business. Brian was to later hand over the managerial reins to well-known statesman of the industry - Bob Kent. Today, Certikin employs over 100 people at its Witney and Leeds operations and its thriving export division services over 50 countries throughout the world. Certikin is one of the two top suppliers of swimming pool equipment in Europe and is a major manufacturer of a wide range of pool products, including underwater lights, heaters, liners, enclosures, skimmers, water circulation pumps and maintenance equipment. Indeed, the name Certikin is well known in its own right and is recognised for its premium quality. Certikin’s partners include some of the best- known companies and brands in the industry, including Maytronics, EMEC, Malvern Boilers, Calorex, Coverstar, Lonza, and Starline, all of which they have built up long-lasting and mutually beneficial relationships with.

THE SIXTIES – TWO TRAILBLAZERS Certikin’s early history is a story of two halves, interwoven as it is with the PG Group, with which it was to later merge.

In the early years, Certikin forged ahead supplying products such as chlorinators and diving boards to the UK swimming pool trade and was the first in the UK to design and produce ‘white goods’. Meanwhile, Peter Geekie (who is now widely acknowledged as one of the industry’s pioneers), was arranging for a pool to be built in a country garden that he was landscaping. Having watched its construction and seeing a gap in the market, he came to the conclusion that pool building was where his future lay.

1966 was memorable not just for England winning the World Cup but also for the establishment of Peter Geekie Pools by Peter and his business partner Tony Ellis at a garden

44 June 2013 SPN

Certikin Managing Director and Chairman). The summer of 1976 (one of the hottest in living memory) saw Certikin’s business literally double in size. Meanwhile Peter Geekie Pools stepped away from pool building and began to focus entirely on supplying wholesale to the pool industry.

1978 saw the advent of heat pump technology and Peter’s son, Steve Geekie headed up a new company, Pool Gear Ltd. With Essex-based manufacturer, Calorex Ltd, it became the first company in the world to commercially market heat pumps for swimming pools. This was followed some two years later with the introduction of dehumidifiers.


centre in Oxford. At this time it was the only Swimming Pool Centre with above-ground pools on display in the UK.

THE SEVENTIES – BUSINESS SOARS In the early seventies, Peter Geekie Pools started selling and installing Vycon liner in-ground pools. Business grew apace and reflecting the way the market was moving, the above-ground pool display gave way to four in-ground pools. The company started to move into the wholesale market as other swimming pool companies were formed and they purchased their required equipment from Peter.

At the same time, Certikin was making its mark on the industry by producing innovative products such as the Certikin PU9 underwater light – the first UK produced underwater light designed specifically for use in swimming pools.

Most notably there was a management buyout at Certikin Ltd by Bob Kent and his Finance Director, Patrick Thorpe (a future

The PG Group was on a roll, and in 1983 a new company, PG Spa & Sauna, selling portable and in-ground spas was formed. Further expansion came with Fluvo counter- current units and water features. The winds of change in 1988 brought about Certikin’s acquisition by the chemical distributor, Ellis & Everard. The following year, they purchased Certikin’s largest customer and UK distributor, the PG Group (Peter Geekie Pools Ltd, Pool Gear Ltd and PG Spa & Sauna Ltd). The decade drew to a close with the business moving to new premises in Witney, Oxfordshire in December 1989.

THE NINETIES – THE BIRTH OF CERTIKIN AS WE KNOW IT TODAY In 1990 Neil Murray (today’s current Managing Director) joined the company and quickly moved to the position of Financial Director. 1993 saw the closure of Certikin’s premises in Partridge Green, Sussex and its merger with the PG Group of Leisure Companies in Witney. In 1995 Hawtin PLC, a Cardiff based company with wide ranging leisure and property interests, purchased E & E Pools & Leisure Ltd and Certikin International Ltd was born, with Patrick Thorpe at the helm. Further expansion came when Certikin purchased the assets of chemical distributor PrimeMix Ltd, and Certikin’s water treatment division, later known as CertiChem was established, selling brands such as Fi-Clor and Baquacil.

As in the early days, innovation and a desire to be the first to bring new products to market,

The current Witney premises were opened in 1990 by the Rt Hon John Patten MP, pictured here with Peter Geekie

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