By Rhys Handley, Monday 16 October 2017
FFEI celebrated its 70th anniversary last week, lauding its evolution from an engineering firm specialising in printing press control systems in 1947 to its current incarnation as a developer of imaging technology for digital print and life sciences.
Incorporated in 1947 as Crosfield Electronics by John Crosfield, the Hemel Hempstead-based firm has changed hands several times over the years.
It was renamed Fujifilm Electronic Imaging when bought by Fujifilm in 1997 and then FFEI following a management buyout in 2006. De La Rue and DFEI were previous owners between the 1970s and 1990s.
“One of our defining traits at FFEI has been the combination of different ages on our team,” said managing director Andy Cook. “We have young graduates and apprentices who are bold, innovative and take risks, as well as older, wiser staff members who have been at the company for over 30 years and can share a wealth of experience.
“I started out at the company 30 years ago this year, initially as an engineer and later did my MBA and became managing director around the time Fuji bought us up.
“We are very proud to be celebrating 70 years since our formation, and it is testament to our dedicated and highly skilled staff and company culture that has enabled FFEI to become the go-to company for those seeking sophisticated and innovative solutions.”
Following the Buncefield fire in December 2005, which devastated the Hertfordshire Oil Storage Terminal, talks began between Fujifilm and FFEI management for a buyout to take place. Talks were “very friendly”, according to Cook, and the company maintains a working relationship with Fuji as well as other international partners.
Cook said: “We are now a smaller, independent business, but we have experience working with bigger businesses like Fuji. So now we understand that world and the demands it brings but can be more agile, make decisions a lot faster and offer different kinds of technology to our customers.”
FFEI has won three Queen’s Awards for Enterprise in the category of innovation, in 2002 for its multi-beam laser imaging technology and 2011 for its Zanite drum computer-to-plate system. Its 2013 win was for a foray into the life sciences sector with its digital slide scanning system which helped move forward cancer diagnosis technology.
Going forward, Cook hopes the 90-strong business will continue winning Queen’s Awards.
“Our goal now is to keep innovating tech worthy of the awards,” said Cook.