Thesis was established more than 25 years ago by my father and three of his friends and colleagues - all senior managers who chose to collaborate on a new venture. The four of them had always got on well and, after taking voluntary redundancy from IBM, discussed the possibility of setting up a business which could offer employment for them and their families. And added to that they wanted to ensure emphasis on a core value – that of looking after people.
With the concept of a true family business in mind they put their collective skills and knowledge into finding the gem of an idea on which to base the business. It really was a meeting of minds across a variety of kitchen tables! Ultimately the team wanted to create a product which drew on their collective skills in science, mechanics, finance and business, and which would provide a legacy for their families in years to come. Perhaps something of a tall order, but fate intervened when one of the team broke his leg and then struggled to find ways of bathing whilst keeping his plaster dry.
The quartet put their technical expertise together to design a product which would solve the problem of keeping a plaster cast dry. A waterproof neoprene and PVC protector was created – in a variety of shapes and sizes to cover different limbs – and called the LimbO. The name was thought up by one of the founders and his wife, and their son designed the very first logo! After introducing LimbO to the Orthopaedic Practitioners at Southampton General Hospital, the product gained recognition, helped by Southampton’s feedback – both from a patient and clinician view. After making contact with the British Casting Course – the only nationally recognised certificate for plaster technicians – the LimbO began to gain recognition nationwide.
Today we are a well-respected British manufacturer, with a factory and offices in Bosham, near Chichester and almost 50 staff. And we’ve remained a family business. I’ve worked at Thesis for more than 14 years, taking over as MD in 2013. Shaun Nightingale, our Technical Director, is the son of one of the other founders and has been working in the company from the outset, including manufacturing the early LimbO’s by hand! Our staff team includes members of the original families, as well as several employees related to one another. In total more than a third of us have some connection to another.
This means that we truly hold a strong sense of family and community – and take time and care to look after one another. We pay the Real Living Wage, provide unlimited fresh fruit for all staff and also support a number of schemes including cycle to work, apprenticeships and paid breaks - something pretty unusual in the manufacturing sector. Social events are regularly held and we’ve recently celebrated with wider families as part of our 25th anniversary celebrations.
We continue to be strongly committed to that original value of looking after people. Today we feel we achieve it by helping people improve their quality of life – through our day to day operations, the way in which our products help people regain their independence and dignity and how we employ, guide and support our staff.