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Megger celebrates 50 years of making electrical testing kit in its Dover factory

Despite only being managing director since February, Graham Heritage already has high aspirations for electrical testing kit manufacturer Megger.

The man who joined the Dover factory during a short-lived period when it was Thorn EMI, as a sponsored trainee in 1983 –– wants to “double in size every five years”.

He would also like to give staff more opportunities to enjoy their work, clearly shown by an open day held last month to mark the 50th anniversary of the company’s factory in Dover, attended by 350 people.

“We need to do more of that, we have become very work focused and a bit of play is good, we need to celebrate our success. The main goal is to grow the business.

"To do that we need the whole team behind us, if we have everyone behind one goal, who knows what we can achieve.”

Almost instantaneously Mr. Heritage was sent to do a degree in electronic systems engineering over a four year period when he joined the company. He returned in 1987 and did a year of industrial placements.

He soon became a development engineer and after a few years was given the opportunity to run the product development team, making portable appliance testers.

Not many years later, he was promoted to project manager in the late 1980s and became an engineering manager in the early 1990s.

After years running many different sections within the business he became technical director in 2007. He did this job for nine years before taking over from retiring managing director Stephen Drennan in February.

Megger’s six-acre headquarters next to the A20 in Dover, was known as AVO (short for amps, volts and ohms, which its multimeters tested) until Megger brought most of its businesses under the same brand in 2002.

Megger was established in the late 1800s and AVO in the 1920s but they did not join forces until Thorn Electrical Industries, who bought AVO in 1967, acquired Megger in 1971.

The Dover factory was opened by Lord Mountbatten. Managers are said to have chosen the Dover for two reasons: the abundance of potential employees and its managing director believed if they built a factory with a view of France it would encourage the company to export.

Back then it had only 45 members of staff and by the mid-1980s, this had grown to about 800.

The factory expanded in 1982 with another building opened by the Duke of Kent.
Today it exports two thirds of its products, and employs 265 people in Dover – staff numbers have reduced as manufacturing efficiency has grown.

Mr. Heritage said: “It is a tough world but the electricity market will grow despite the recession. There will always be a need for electrical testing.”

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