Eddie and Debbie Gittoes started Arctic Circle in 1985 with the aim of supplying refrigeration plant for the retail food industry.
Debbie explains: “Eddie was working for a local compressor manufacturer when he came home one night in 1985 with a book – ‘Accounts Made Simple’ and asked me if I would like to learn it! Eddie was increasingly frustrated that his employer appeared to be missing out on opportunities that he felt were necessary for business success. Following several discussions, we decided that we could do better and so started off by writing a five-year business plan.
“Seed funding was raised from friends and family and with the grand total of £20K, plus the family home as collateral for a bank loan, the business started operating from rented premises at Rotherwas Industrial Estate.”
At the start Arctic Circle mainly manufactured compressors in a rented unit on the Rotherwas Industrial Estate in Hereford before moving to where they are today, on Coldnose Road, in 1995. The stores building was added a year later and their Natural Refrigerant Technology Centre (NRTC) which is an in-house test facility, was opened in 2011.
Over the years the product range has been added to and developed. The latest addition to the Arctic Circle product range is the Arctic Circle Aurora – a two-stage externally compounded transcritical C02 system with bypass which is a standalone low temperature natural refrigeration solution optimised for efficiency with a dynamic resilience control. The Aurora incorporates a patent pending novel control strategy which ensures the two compressor stages work seamlessly together to guarantee that the compressors are always available to run. The result is an uncompromised performance and high resilience, the optimized operation protects the compressor by recognising low superheat conditions and acts accordingly.
Eddie and Debbie Gittoes following the move to Coldnose Road in 1995
Sadly, Eddie died in 2013 after a long-term illness. Eddie was a true innovator and leader of the industry. After seven years as Managing Director, Debbie handed the reins over to her son Mike in April of this year.
Over the past 25 years Arctic Circle has employed more than 40 apprentices, including engineering and business administration. They are passionate about investing in young people and ensuring that they have transferable skills into other industries while giving them the experience to ensure that they can flourish at Arctic Circle. That commitment continues and 2020 has seen them take on five engineering apprentices to ensure that they have the skills ready for their future growth.
Debbie said: “Such a lot has happened over the past 35 years; friendships have been forged and loved ones lost. So many people have contributed to the success of Arctic Circle and we thank them all. We are what we are because of you. Trying to pick out a particular highlight is difficult; there have been many. However, the moment I am most proud of is when my son Michael took over as Managing Director in April this year. Mike has the skill, energy, and commitment to ensure that Arctic Circle is successful for the next 35 years. I wish everyone an interesting journey!”
Mike said: “I am tremendously proud of the achievements Arctic Circle has made over the last 35 years, from our pioneering apprentices to our numerous awards and innovations. Our people remain at the heart of our success and I look forward to fostering and developing the future industry leaders over the next 35 years of our history.”
The last 35 years has seen Arctic Circle lead the way in terms of innovation and product development. With over 45 awards in the cabinet the years have been
filled with proud moments for this family-run business.
2020 could be one of the most interesting years so far for Arctic Circle. With the appointment of Mike as MD back in April, the development of the Arctic Circle Aurora and this momentous celebration.
Although the celebrations may have been affected by the ongoing pandemic, Arctic Circle was still determined to mark the occasion. The factory has been filled with balloons, cake, and party gifts. Several staff are now working remotely, and it was ensured that they were also part of the celebration. Where would any business be without the commitment from their employees after all!
They would like to thank everyone who has been a part of their journey as without you, this would not have been possible. Here’s to the next 35 years!