British manufacturer Swann-Morton Ltd was founded by Mr WR Swann, Mr JA Morton and Miss D Fairweather in August 1932 – during the Great Depression, a time in the UK when unemployment had peaked just below three million.
Since then, the company has built a solid reputation both in manufacturing and as a business that looks after its employees, in line with the unwavering principles on which it was formed.
Swann-Morton was founded on strong socialist convictions, centred on fair treatment and reward for a fair day’s work. These values remain the lifeblood of the UK-based manufacturer today, commemorated in a handwritten display at the company’s head office in Hillsborough, Sheffield.
The desire for on-going improvement, the hard work ethic of all its employees and a policy of promotion from within has helped sustain the business during times of global economic hardships and upheaval. Today Swann-Morton is renowned as a progressive company and a world-leading manufacturer of surgical blades.
Chris Taylor, Sales & Marketing Director explains: “The success of Swann-Morton can be attributed to its unique culture and the philosophies of the founders who started the company over eighty years ago. It is what continues to inspire quality and commitment from our employees. Today we continue to benefit from extraordinary low turnover of staff, with unique working conditions facilitating knowledge retention, investment in the future and promotion from within.
“Our policies of self-design and ongoing investment have sustained the company into the success story that it has become today.”
Swann-Morton was established originally to manufacture and sell razor blades. It was not until the late 1930s that the company’s emphasis was changed to surgical blades, demand for which was soaring at the time. Historically these were built with a wood or ivory handle which was replaced by metal towards the end of the 19th century in response to heat sterilization techniques.
As a business, Swann-Morton has always been progressive. The company introduced a 40-hour working week in 1939 and pension provisions in 1957. By this time, the British economy was fragile and the world was reeling from a new strain of flu that had started in China the previous winter.
Mindful of the future security of the business two trusts were established to administer the company within which the employees had a 50% share and the remaining 50% placed in a charitable foundation. This unique employee ownership arrangement has since seen Swann-Morton go from strength to strength.
By 1957, the company was manufacturing over 38 million blades.
Development and expansion
In the 1960’s demand for sterile blades increased and Swann-Morton developed, with the input and expertise of UKAE advisors, a batch sterilisation process using Cobalt 60 gamma radiation – one of the first commercial plants of its kind in the world.
At the turn of the new century – now completely self-sufficient for all its sterilisation requirements – Swann-Morton marked its progress and achievements by embarking on an extensive expansion programme.
This involved major construction works to create more production space for grinding, an extended clean room for packing and office space. The company created a commercial microbiological laboratory and purchased Jewel Blade to expand their industrial blade capability.
This was followed shortly by the building of Cobb Works across from the main site in September 2006, providing purpose-built space for the R&D and engineering departments. In 2009 Cygnet works were finalised to increase raw material storage capacity.
Ten years later Swann-Morton added to their impressive portfolio Woodland Works, a new plastics injection moulding facility for plastic handled scalpels.
Today the company manufactures in the region of 1.5 million blades a day with 370 employees, each having ownership of the business. The Swann-Morton Medsurge range is used throughout all acute hospital settings including Cardiology, Orthopaedics and Reconstructive surgery as well as non-acute settings such as Small Clinics, Surgery Centres, GP Practice and other extended community settings.
With an established extensive network of overseas distributors, Swann-Morton now exports to over 100 countries around the world. It is a name respected globally for quality, consistency, precision and reliability, and recognised for combining traditional blade making skills with the latest technology.
To find out more visit www.swann-morton.com