by G. A. Dummett
Little Acorns is the history of The A.P. V. Company Limited, the unsung but highly successful manufacturer of process plant for the food and chemical industries and kingpin of an international group of some seventy companies located in more than twenty countries around the world.
APV had its origins in the inventive mind of Dr Richard Seligman, who formed the Aluminium Plant and Vessel Co. in 1910 to exploit the first patent on the specialized techniques needed to weld aluminium. First and foremost a scientist, Seligman established a powerful Research and Development Department which saw the invention of several ‘firsts’ in food processing technology and which was called upon to do vital work for the Government in both world wars. To fabrication in corrosion-resistant metals, was soon added process engineering and process plant manufacture. Later, over the post-war years, came steel founding, and then carefully planned growth brought new process plant and automation techniques for the dairy, food, brewery, fruit juice, chemical and other industries.
Tony Dummett’s history is a model of its kind. He guides us past the major landmarks in APV’s life – the development of the first plate heat exchanger, the introduction of stainless steel, the public flotation of the company after World War II, the expansion of its export marketing network, and the massive relocation operation in the 1950s. At the same time his narrative embraces development across the board – in the overall company structure, within the different departments, in the overseas subsidiaries, in staff relations and administration. The going was not always smooth, and Dummett paints a vivid picture of a company at work. Changes in fiscal and marketing policies are honestly described. So, too, are the inevitable differences in the boardroom and on the shop floor, reminding us that a company is but the sum total of its staff.
From Little Acorns offers the general reader a fascinating insight into how business actually happens. It is also a fund of valuable source material for students of technology and social and economic history. A success story of our times, it offers a paradigm of how wealth can be created and jobs called into being through the enterprise of a handful of men. On all counts, this is a book which will appeal to layman and specialist alike.
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247 pages. 31 illustrations