Family firm’s analytical work provides solutions so that drinkers of leading brand do have the real thing

Pictured above: Ian Hopkinson, Director Derwent Analytics

Every time people in the UK swallow a drink made by the world’s largest beverage company they may be surprised to know that a small firm in Ilkeston, Derbyshire has played a part.

And soon people across the globe may have the same re-assurance that Derwent Analytics has helped make sure that they are drinking the real thing.

For the company based at Manners industrial estate, which has only nine people working for it, has bottled up a deal with Coca Cola to add to its list of corporate giant customers.

Derwent Analytics is mostly involved in analysing for impurities in liquid processes, checking clean water streams at manufacturing plants and monitoring pollution to ensure product consistency and quality.

It does this by making bespoke solutions, mainly from mined minerals, which cause a chemical reaction.

The solutions are used to condition kidney dialysis machines and check oil refinery performance, food and brewing, water and power utilities, and chemical plants around the world.

The company also helps airports nationwide to analyse effluent run-off from the apron and make sure that there are no contaminants such as anti-freeze or fuel going into local water courses.

But its biggest deal is a long way from its first project in 2001 when it provided solutions for analysing equipment to monitor pollution from a Glasgow plant that makes sausage skins for manufacturers worldwide.

Derwent Analytics has supplied Coca Cola through a third party, but director Ian Hopkinson, a chemist, persisted with calls to offer a service directly.

Eventually, he was asked to go to Coca Cola’s plant at Wakefield, its biggest in Europe, to discuss a particular issue.

“I realised that we could improve the quality of the solutions that they were using for the testing of the final product,” said Ian. 

“We made a trial sample which was so successful in resolving the problem they had got that they are now using the products at their four plants nationwide, of which we are very proud.

“There’s talk about our product being used by the company in their plants worldwide.

“So from next year it’s likely that every time somebody has a fizzy drink made by Coca Cola it will be made with know-how from Derwent Analytics.

“It’s an exciting prospect,” said Ian. Apart from the kudos it could be a massive boost to the annual £500,000 turnover.

“Nationwide, this is likely to bring in up to £60,000 a year. But if it goes worldwide and we are sole suppliers this could be worth £3.5m a year.”

Derwent Analytics has also had a breakthrough with another major company, BP Chemicals, who were having a problem making their own calibration standards.

Derwent Analytics came up with a solution which is now under evaluation. This could be worth more than £40,000 annually if used by a number of plants.

The company delivers its liquids to 170 sites across the UK by its own transport or courier. 

When he started from home Ian was juggling his new company with a full-time job, averaging 91.5 hours a week. Bev worked full-time for the company and part-time elsewhere.

They moved to Quarry Hill Industrial Park but rapidly outgrew the premises, transferring to the present site.

Bev is production planner, finance director, processes orders, generates delivery notes, prepares containers for filling, invoices customers and chases payment as well.

Ian is quick to acknowledge her contribution. “It could not be done without Bev,” he said. “I would need to employ up to three people to do what she does.” To add to the family feel Bev’s mum Maureen also works there.

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