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ACORN® Celebrates 40 Years Servicing the Industry

Acorn Industrial Services Ltd celebrates 40 years of service in July 2023, serving customers across the globe and providing innovative solutions to every industry.

Founded in 1983 by Eric Baines, ACORN quickly expanded and relocated several times to cope with demand. By 1990, Acorn Industrial Services Ltd had reached £1 million turnover - a momentous milestone. The 90s saw ACORN go through a transitional phase of modernisation. This included launching its first delivery van, offering free local deliveries to businesses, as well as investing in its first computers and transitioning onto a fully computerised stock control system.

1991 was an important year for ACORN, as its first Regional Distribution Centre opened in Birmingham. This allowed the business to serve an even wider customer base across the Midlands. In the following years, ACORN continued its journey of expansion by moving into larger units and taking on more staff.

The new millennium brought with it new challenges for the company, but business continued to thrive, being awarded membership to the European Power Transmission Distributors Association (EPTDA) in 2001 and being appointed as an authorised SKF distributor in 2003.

By ACORN's 20th anniversary in 2003, the company had 32 employees, as well as a dedicated Linear division.

In 2005, the company was bought by employees Des Spillings and Martin Povey, who continued to rapidly grow the business. ACORN reached £1 million turnover per month in 2009, achieving the Rotherham Business Award for Growth.

Following its trend of being an industry leader, ACORN launched its digital platform ACORN EXPRESS in 2012, enabling distribution customers to place orders online.

The next year, in 2013, ACORN celebrated its 30th anniversary with 74 employees, as well as being appointed as an NSK-RHP official distributor and launching its dedicated couplings division.

In 2015, ACORN was taken over by Axel Johnson International, giving the company new connections and opening up new doors for opportunity.

Fast forward to the present day and ACORN is celebrating 40 years of business. This year, RW Bearings becomes ACORN Gloucestershire, bringing the total network to 13 branches of ACORN. This shows just how far the company has come since its beginnings.

One member of staff who has been with ACORN for the majority of those years is Richard Hewitt, Marketing Manager. Recounting his experiences, he said:

"When I joined Acorn in 1990, it was a family-run business with 9 full-time staff including myself. They'd recently invested in two Amstrad computers – we're talking cutting edge in those days! And I was tasked with moving the company's accounts & stock control onto computers.

Keeping up with technology has always been essential in Acorn's story. We continue to embrace the constantly evolving digital world, helping us to connect with our customers and suppliers in new and exciting ways. Whilst my role at Acorn has also evolved over the years, I am proud of my part in Acorn's digital journey."

Looking to the future, Acorn is looking to consolidate its position as a leading distributor of bearings, power transmission and linear products, as well as expanding its products and services  to meet the needs of its customers.

Acorn's aim is always to be at the forefront of innovation and to provide the best possible service to its customers, no matter what the challenge.

Group MD Martin Povey said: “What Acorn has achieved over the past 40 years is down to the hard work of everyone in our business. I’m proud to be part of that team and look forward to seeing what else we can achieve over the coming years.”

One of ACORN's main priorities is to become more sustainable, helping to build a future in which the company, its employees and its customers can all thrive. For its 40th anniversary year, the company is planning activities to increase its sustainability, whilst celebrating its achievements. These activities include the introduction of its on-site beehive at head office, planting 40 trees, and carrying out random acts of kindness throughout 2023 and beyond.

The next 40 years look set to be just as exciting as the first for ACORN. With a strong focus on its customers, staff and sustainability, there is no limit to what the company can achieve.