Ernest Smith, a fitted furniture manufacturer in Gosport, Hampshire, has expanded its business to make and sell pocket plugs.
The manufacturing and distribution of pocket plugs – angled dowels used in furniture making – was started by Ernest Smith out of necessity, as its main supplier shut down and it wanted to make sure the company was still using high-quality and locally-sourced plugs.
Helen Smith, who runs Ernest Smith and wife of owner Kevin Smith, said: “We wanted to continue to use jigs in the construction and fitting of our furniture. This made us see the need for a UK supplier of Pocket Plugs and identified the opportunity to make our own.
“By making our own, we were able to ensure a high-quality finish of the product and manufacture larger quantities in order to sell online to other businesses in the joinery and caravan conversion industries.”
Ernest Smith went to a company who had stopped manufacturing Pocket Plugs a few years ago and bought the mould from them. The plugs are then produced exclusively for them by another manufacturing company next door to the Ernest Smith’s HQ in Gosport, which, said Smith, saves on packaging and delivery and is better for the environment.
The plugs come in nine colours and are sold in batches from 50 to 5,000. There are also options for custom plugs, Egger Board-matching plus as well as a bespoke colour service using RAL colours.
Smith said: “What has been really amazing is the diversity of businesses that we are now supplying. We now sell to educational furniture, caravanning and conversion companies needing the plugs.”
Commenting on the future of both Ernest Smith and the pocket plug arm of the business, Smith said: “We are now focusing on our unique selling point – modern ideas combined with traditional values and talking about the 25 years of history of the business and promoting the knowledge, skills and experience of all our staff.
“For the business to move forward, we have had to really look at the service we have been providing prior to the pandemic and how our customers can get the best experience from buying in their local community to support small businesses, as this is what they are telling us they want. We need to be inventive in how we present our showroom, so they get an experience that combines functionality, while incorporating storage and finding additional space for home offices.”