The Story of David Bellis MBE. Part 5. Industry figure, honorary fellow, but most of all, our David

Our previous four blogs have seen us follow Davis Bellis from a young boy, to an airman, an entrepreneur and finally a retired gentleman. In this, the final blog, we bring you right up to the current day.

With many years of experience in the industry, David recognised a gap in the market for banknote validators and in 1992, upon his retirement from Coin Controls, thirsty for a new challenge, David founded Innovative Technology Ltd.

A small facility in Royton was the operating base for ITL, whose main aim was to produce low cost multi-currency banknote validators. The NV1 was born, known as the ‘Smiley’ due to the note entry looking as though it is smiling.

It was not long until the demand for the NV1 banknote validators outgrew the facility on Park Street in Royton and David and his team decided they needed to expand, building a bespoke facility on Derker Street in Oldham, where we remain to this day.

A remarkable number of employees from the earlier days at Innovative Technology still remain today, including Tim Beswick who remains at the company today as our longest serving member of staff, and our Managing Director Aidan Towey, who was promoted from Finance Director, and is quickly approaching his twentieth year at the company. This loyalty is testament to David as both a person and a chairman, having gained so much respect during his lucrative career. Now David, who spends the summer at his house in Spain, knows that the company is left in good hands while he is away, however he likes to remain involved; often inviting the directors to his holiday home there for updates.

1998 saw David honoured as a Member of the Order of the British Empire (MBE), for his significant achievements and outstanding services to businesses in the community. This is one of many occasions in which David has met with a member of the Royal Family, having previously and since won Queen’s Awards. Although a major achievement, David will forever remain down to earth, “I can’t understand what I could have done to deserve this, but it’s very nice to get a pat on the back and it certainly spurs you on”.

In 2003, Oldham College announced a prestigious accolade and opened a new building named after David (The Bellis Building); this building was a tribute to a previous student who “has gone on to become one of the borough’s most successful businessmen”.

Having celebrated twenty years of innovation in 2012, ITL were this year recognised by two nationwide awards; the Queen’s Award for Enterprise: International Trade (our third of its kind) and for the first time we were recognised by the Sunday Times BDO Profit Track 100, being named 13th on their list of Britain’s fastest growing privately owned companies in 2013, a much coveted prize.

ICE 2013 saw David celebrate a big milestone, his 75th birthday. Industry colleagues from over the decades were invited to the stand to celebrate with cake and champagne, along with colleagues from ITL.

Over 22 years, David has grown his initial ideas, from a small village on the outskirts of Manchester, into Innovative Technology; a market leading brand with office locations around the world. As a group, ITL currently has offices in nine worldwide locations and trading partners in many more, ensuring our product range is easily accessible no matter the customer’s geographical location or native language. As an innovative organisation, ITL is ever expanding and over the last twelve months alone has expanded significantly; having completed a new state of the art 36,000ft² office facility at our head office in Oldham and opening offices in Australia, Italy, and America.

David’s passion for innovation has stretched over many years and it is no surprise that he has been so successful over such a long period. Despite his age, the drive still remains, without an obligation to come to work he chooses to do so even on the bleakest of days and is still the hub of many ideas that are turned into products.

David is highly regarded and is a great ambassador here at ITL and amongst the technology world. He is also regarded as an inspirational role model and earlier this year University Campus Oldham praised David and awarded him an honorary fellowship for his ‘Services to Vocational Education’.

Alun Francis, Principal and Chief Executive of Oldham College said: “The Oldham College Honorary Fellowship is being presented to someone who, in many respects, epitomises the opportunities which this town has, and with it the College, in adapting to the challenges of a new economy and the skills which it demands. For us, in this College, this is what makes David’s story remarkable”

As for us at ITL, it is simple, David is an exceedingly talented man and it is a delight to listen to his many stories of the past and work under his incredible jurisdiction. For David, it is even simpler, “Wherever I go in the world, I see my products. I can turn on Coronation Street and see my products. Whether I’m in Disneyland or a little bar in the wilds of Spain, I can see something I designed. It gives me a little kick every time’.

David

 

If you have missed any of the blogs in this series, you can find them all at https://itlblog.wordpress.com/category/david-bellis/

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The Story of David Bellis MBE. Part 4. The Mint Advisor

Previously we have spoken about David Bellis’ education and early career, prior to the conception of what eventually became Coin Controls.

In 1969, a new 50p coin was released to the nation with no form of external consultation. It seemed that the design on the face of the coin was the most important aspect to the Royal Mint and the public, and as an engineer of coin validators, that thought was very alien to David. Due to this, David’s concern grew and he decided to form a committee for meetings with the Royal Mint.

As a key stakeholder in the coin industry, David’s ever expanding knowledge of coins earned him the accolade of chairman of the Association’s Committee on coinage, reporting to BACTA and consulting closely with the Royal Mint. Although David’s contributions to the new coinage were plentiful, he noted that he is most fond of his contribution to the change in the alloy of the 20p, so that the 5 pence piece could not be pressed into 20p shapes. David’s recommendation ensured that the change in alloy eradicated the use of fraudulent 5 pence pieces being passed as four times their worth, a great achievement for the man from Oldham.

Due to the formation of the Association’s Committee and the successful alloy change, it was agreed by the Royal Mint that they would provide David and the other Committee members with at least two years notice before any new coins were to be put into circulation, allowing for an ease of use and aid in the prevention of fraud, not only great for the economy, but great for David’s coin validators too.

 

As David’s personal career was going from strength to strength, the same could not be said for Coin Controls’, as one of their main industries experienced a major downturn. As the share price plummeted from £1 to 37p overnight, David began regretting his decision to float the company on the London Stock Exchange, as most of the shareholders at Coin Controls were locals and friends of David’s. Determined, he continued to focus on the development of his products while the city sent a new chairman, Bill Houston. David noted that Bill did a remarkable job helping turn around Coin Controls’ fortune, something that warranted David’s greatest respect.

Not long after this turn of fortune, Coin Controls was subject to a number of takeover bids and in 1991, in his early 50s, David decided to retire.

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Or did he?

The story of David Bellis MBE. Part 3. PAD Automation —> Coin Controls

In our two earlier pieces we have spoken about David Bellis’ early days and the conception of P.A.D Automation, David had moved into making not only payouts but coin hoppers and coin testers for the expanding amusement business.

David’s business was going from strength to strength, and in 1968 he met his future partners Norman Holden and Stuart Kitson, before a local businessman, ‘Jimmy’ bought 25% of their company for £2000.  David mentioned that in honesty, he and his two partners Stuart and Norman didn’t need the money but they enjoyed the comfort that the extra capital ensured; £2000 being worth much more in the 1960s than it is today.

The company called Coin Controls was formed and the design for the payouts still remained at the forefront of coin handling technology. Numerous products were designed by David and his team; the standard hopper that was licenced to the Japanese who made over one million units for the Japanese market, closely followed by the universal hopper and compact hoppers. David has always been a few steps ahead of the industry; one idea David had was for the person in the bar to be able to empty the machines instead of having collectors going from machine to machine. However, when he took it to Barcrest, John Marshal said “if there were no machines installed in the country, we could use such a system. One component of the system, the Universal hopper was sold separately and became the industry standard at that time.

While this was happening however, other areas of his business were thriving, the boom of the gaming industry and orders of 2000 hoppers a day from manufacturers in Spain were accumulating. Business was great for David as his company changed from being fairly casual to a more professional structure with appropriate business systems and more people with degrees joining his team.  

The company received many accolades including two Queen’s Awards for Exports.

In 1983, David and the other board members decided to float Coin Controls on the London Stock Exchange. It was something that they had considered for a while, but it was a giant leap for the boys from Royton and was done as a slight insurance policy in case one of the directors died. By this time, the original £2000 that the local business man, Jimmy Horrocks had invested had been turned into a figure closer to the £2 million mark, upon his death the shares were sold for roughly that amount.

Coin Controls Directors

Next week, we reflect upon the next chapter of Coin Controls

The story of David Bellis MBE. Part 2. ‘Coin Payout’ – where it all began

The first edition of our David Bellis MBE blog has told of his colourful education and the story of his increasing interest in the world of engineering.

Having safely returned home from National Service and with experience in both mechanical and electrical engineering, David moved back to Northern England, Yorkshire to be more precise, where he began work for Gap Units, based in Batley. Gap Units produced a component to install into boilers in order to make them more efficient, as well as furthering his knowledge and skill in precision engineering, this period in David’s life also saw him produce his first coin payout machines quite by chance.

In his leaky garage, David kept a milling machine that he used to make components for Gap Units. One of David’s friends at the time saw the work that he was doing in his garage and referred him to his boss, who wanted Italian 50 Lira coin payouts converted to the British penny. David perceived these payout units to be of a poor design so decided to update the units and then design a payout of his own. Shortly afterwards, the customer David made the payout units for went out of business, so he took the executive decision to show this unit at the UK Gaming Exhibition Blackpool in 1964. David manned half a stand (half a trestle table) with another company operating the other half, 50 years ago this year.

Collecting an order of 14 units, his machines impact at the exhibition greatly outweighed the actual order number, as businessman Donald Deakin invited David to exhibit on his stand at the London Exhibition. In the coming months, more and more orders where placed and David decided that he would have to give up his job with Gap Units in order to make payouts full time.

P.A.D Automation, the name of David’s new company originally operated out of his garage, and when a representative of the biggest machine manufacturer at the time, Maurice Collins of Ace Coin came to see him, he saw the garage. Collins wound down the window of his car and told David that he could not make parts for him from such a place, although David noted, that he was glad they didn’t enter the garage as it was a rainy day and the roof was leaking. David later supplied all of the payouts for Ace Coin from a new property based in Royton.

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Check back next week for David’s next chapter…

The story of David Bellis MBE. Part 1

David Bellis produced his first coin handling solution in 1964 and now, fifty years on he is still going strong as Chairman of Innovative Technology making cash handling solutions. We at ITL thought it a fitting tribute to look back on what has been and we hope will continue to be an amazing career for the local boy from Royton, Oldham.

David’s story is too vast to tell in a single post, so over the next month we will share his story so far in a number of blogs.

David began his early life in Royton, firstly at St Paul’s Mission School as an infant and a junior and then to secondary school at Royton Central (now known as Royton and Compton School) where he left at the tender age of 15, after failing his 11 plus exams.

Out of school, David continued his education in the form of an apprenticeship, building textile machinery for S. Dodd and Sons. With industry in Oldham at the time being dominated by textiles, opportunities were plentiful and he took full advantage before spending two years in Scotland where he was seconded by his company to J & P Coats and Clarks of Paisley.

During his time in Scotland, still showing a thirst for furthering his personal knowledge, David attended Paisley Technical College where he successfully completed textile qualifications and his national certificate.

At the time in England, National Service remained compulsory and having finished his apprenticeship, it was time for David to complete his duty for Queen and Country. With a few years of mechanical design under his belt he went on to add electronics to his already impressive resume, being posted to No.1 radio school on national service before being stationed in Germany, where the vast majority of his work was based in signals on transmitters. During this time, David began to study Physics, he completed an O Level without attending one class, using his book alone.

 

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David proudly holding his first creation, more details in the next blog.