Barry Bates marks 50 years in the partitioning business for Komfort with a visit to Crawley
No-one knows more about the early history of Komfort Partitioning than Barry Bates, our founder. Barry visited the team at Komfort Crawley in February 2023 to mark setting up the company in early 1973.
Whilst the company was not fully incorporated until 3rd May 1973, Barry, his family and team were hard at work in the warehouse in South Godstone from 26th February. Starting with only a few hundred pounds, he didn’t stop grafting until he sold the company, with a turnover of £21m, to Hicksons in 1989. His core product then was the Komfort 600 series, closely followed by Komfire, which are still firm favourites today.
Standing in the warehouse, where Komfort moved in 1983, Barry recounted how Komfort got its name. When asked ‘what is it this company will do?’ he wrote on a piece of scrap card ‘Comfortable Offices’ then crossed out the ‘C’ and replaced it with a ‘K’ and Komfort was Konceived.
Barry guided and grew Komfort throughout the 70s and 80s, negotiating the 3 day week and a recession. Having grown up on a Council Estate in New Addington his pure grit, nouse and determination is undeniable and when catching up with the people he worked with ‘back in the day,’ they all remembered his incredible drive and commitment, and have more than a few amusing anecdotes about his management style.
A Visit to Whittle Way
When we visited the new offices in Whittle Way (which will house the whole of Komfort South from summer 2023) a large poster showing staff images from the 1990s caught Barry’s eye. He could name practically everyone in the line up and he still talks about the industry, and people within in it, like he left the business yesterday.
It was amazing to meet Barry, his industry knowledge is astounding and also inspiring. We are all looking forward to the next phase of Komfort’s evolution and will enjoy celebrating the 1st 50 years throughout 2023.