HALL & WATTS – UNDERGOING TRANSFORMATION
By Julian Nettlefold, Editor, BATTLESPACE
BATTLESPACE meets Hall & Watts at DSA Malaysia
23 Apr 08. The first time I met John Hoskins, Chairman of Hall & Watts, was when he was responsible for the Royal Artillery Sales team in 1980. He showed considerable entrepreneurship even in those days and encouraged small suppliers like SMC Engineering to demonstrate their products to visiting overseas delegations. He and the team maintained their cool when one delegation drove a Sandringham 6×6 with the Team’s Light Gun up a hill at Larkhill only to ignore his instructions and turn on a slope, sending John’s gun rolling down the slope with the obvious added costs to its sighting system! They compounded the error by demanding a photo with the overturned gun!
John was an obvious choice for Alan Evans, the founder of the Hall & Watts Defence business to grow and develop the business.
The origins of Hall & Watts lie in the founding family’s theodolite business for building sites at Islington over 120 years ago. During the First World War Hall & Watts developed a business servicing military sighting systems for a variety of weapon systems, a business that continues to this day.
Hall & Watts Defence Optics Limited (HWDO) is a long established company specialising in the production of opto-mechanical instruments and is well known in the UK and abroad. HWDO is proud of its position in the optics industry and continues to provide high quality products, technical and training support as it has done for many decades. Innovative, simple, yet cost effective designs of products have been identified as major factors in their success together with a thorough understanding of the market through specially selected personnel in engineering, sales and product support areas within the company.
HWDO operates a service and repair facility at St Albans for customers who have the special needs of National traceable standards, particularly those governed by ISO 9001:2000 regulations.
All non-magnetic materials used for equipment build or components are inspected using a Magnetoscope, an instrument capable of measuring the magnetic permeability of non-magnetic material to 1.001 uT.
A calibration service is available for all manner of optical equipment including digitized instruments. This service is carried out by their Quality Assurance department in accordance with the requirements of ISO 9001:2000. An equipment preparation service is also available for instruments requiring calibration.
In the early 1980s Hall & Watts began its overseas expansion and now conducts sales, marketing, training and repairs for the Defence and Special Products of optics companies such as Vectronix and Elcan.
Hall & Watts still operates in Australia, Botswana, Dubai and New Zealand. The main growth has been provided by Artillery and Mortar systems through the purchase of Zengrange in 1984 and MAS in the 1990s.
“When you first knew us, we were a trading company with a small optical production unit based in St Albans. The purchase of Zengrange which was based in Leeds provided manufacturing facilities for a range of artillery and mortar fire control systems. The acquisition of Marine Air Systems (MAS) New Zealand Ltd in 1998 changed the face of Hall & Watts completely. We now have a considerable manufacturing business in New Zealand (now MAS Zengrange Ltd), where we employ 22 people developing complex artillery software systems and associated products. Hall & Watts now employs 47 people in total with a Group Turnover in the region of £10 million.” Hoskins told the Editor.
“We understand that you recently won a considerable order in Thailand for artillery fire control systems?” The Editor asked.
“Yes,” said Hoskins, “We were selected by BAE Systems to provide a Regiment’s worth of our LACS equipment to support their 105mm Light Gun sale.”
Chris Hunter of Hall & Watts demonstrated the syste