Charles William Maddison The Founder of Auto Wrappers
The article below was sent to us by Jean Cann who is Charles "Bill" Maddison's daughter, it was a transcript that was given to Bill by his good friend P.W. Liddington, ( known as Liddie ) after Bill had sold Autowrappers to Tobenoil, It was done in the style of the Eamon Andrews Television show "This is your Life" we found it such an exceptional piece of information that we decided to publish it here on the website in its entirety and original form. A very big thankyou to Jean and Kenneth Cann for sharing this with us and with our readers.... Enjoy
We shall attempt to outline the story of a man who, at a very early age, had an ideal to become known throughout the world as a pioneer in the Wrapping Machine world - of your struggles to attain your object, and who, at the age of 58 was able to set the seal on his ambition by seeing a firm he had created absorbed into an Industrial Holding Company. We cannot foretell your future but the pattern of your life leads us to know that you are climbing a mountain that has no summit, and, having reached the half way stage, there is to be the beginning of a further climb upwards in a fashion we shall attempt to foretell. You were born on the 21st August, 1900, and were the eldest son of a turner, Charles Arthur Maddison and his wife Gertrude, and you were followed by two brothers and three sisters. History tells us that, from the day you were born, your toys were all mechanical, and when in your bath the business in hand was ignored while you wrapped up the soap. A file and a piece of steel, with a few nuts and bolts - these were far more important to you than toys. You were apprenticed in 1916 to Rose Brothers, Engineers at Gainsborough, when you were soon able to begin that flair for engineering that later specialized in Wrapping Machines. In your very early days with Rose Brothers, you met another apprentice - Horace Elton Martin, with whom you exchanged your boyish views and ambitions, little knowing that in the course of time your friend Horace was to become your partner in a successful business. You formed a staunch friendship that has already lasted over 40 years and, we know, will remain until the end of time. When your apprenticeship was finished, you joined friend Horace with Baker Perkins, Ltd. of Peterborough, but the urge to further improve your knowledge led you to Leeds where you joined the Forgrove Machine Co. Ltd. in 1924. Then, after only eight years in the trade, when you were 26 years of age, you decided, with Horace Martin, to start a business called The British Package Machinery Co. Ltd. (1926) and although you both put all you had into the venture, lack of capital forced you to disband the Company and seek bread and butter. You both joined John Mackintosh & Sons, Ltd. at Halifax, as maintenance engineers, Horace Martin being in the Albion Mills Toffee Factory, and you in the Queens Road Chocolate Factory. In 1932, Mackintoshes bought the business of A. J. Caley & Sons, Norwich, and you were appointed in charge of all wrapping machinery at that factory. This enabled you to further your knowledge of wrapping machines and gain the experience which you knew one day would enable you to start your own business, Horace Martin and yourself even fixed the name of this dream company which was to be AUTO WRAPPERS. Horace Martin married in 1929 and you were the best man at his wedding, and in 1935 you asked him to be best man at your wedding to Violet Gladys Wheelhouse. You were then earning the colossal sum of £4.10s per week and very wisely chose a partner whom you knew would stand by your side and encourage you until you attained your ideal, and in your twenty three years of married life, your wife has indeed proved herself the ideal companion and is now able to share with you the material things in life that you both have gone without. Your daughter, Jean, was born in Norwich on 11th May, 1938, and it naturally followed that, in due course of time, she would follow you into your business. Thus you have been blessed with a charming wife and daughter, both of whom have played a very important part in your success story. During the Great War (1939/1945) the Caley Factory in Norwich was destroyed by enemy action, and you returned to Halifax, where once again, you were under the same roof as Horace Martin. Your exchange of confidences were still centred on starting your own business, and although friend Horace advised caution, you allowed nothing to stop in your way. In 1945, Horace Martin left Halifax for family reasons to live at Southport, and his parting words were those of discouragement and caution, advising you to stick to a bread and butter job rather than form a company that might not be a success. He did not know CHARLES WILLIAM MADDISON. You continued to gain all the knowledge you could of wrapping machines with the certainty you WOULD make the grade. You then started preparing for your big venture, and spent all your spare hours drawing machines, designing and experimenting, and you returned to Norwich fired with ambition. You commenced a spare time backyard business and the result of two years trading showed sales of £983 with cash in the bank of £4. You drew no salary and the loss was £1,209. Your wife and self plunged all your savings into the venture, and in April, 1948, your cash in bank was £12, and loss was £679. This should have been sufficient for any man to "call it a day”, but not CHARLES WILLIAM MADDISON. You regarded the losses as money paid for valuable experience, and showed great grit and determination because you KNEW that the struggles were the beginning of a career that would, in the end, justify itself. Thus ends an important chapter in your life. Your assets were a wife who encouraged your ideals and helped you in every possible way, and the experience you had assimilated of wrapping machines. Before we end this chapter, we should record your interest in the Boy Scouts. When a teenager you were in charge of the Gainsborough Sea Scouts and consequently had charge of their boats. In 1956, the Gainsborough Sea Scouts bought a new boat which they named after you in view of the grand work you had done for them, and we record that you made your father take you to join the Scouts when you were underage. We will call the second chapter of your life ACHIEVEMENT, for, so far, we have only attempted to sketch over your early struggles, and now you were to dumbfound your critics for you had decided the time had arrived to bring your big guns into action. At the age of 48 you formed a private limited company called AUTOWRAPPERS (NORWICH) LIMITED, and asked your life-long friend, Horace Martin, to join you. He forgot his caution and, with your wife, became a Director of the Company, it 'being agreed you were to be Managing Director. The Company started with a capital of £10,000 which was divided into £1 Ordinary Shares, and you raised a total of £8,500 in cash and machinery. With a staff of six to help you, the Company was incorporated on the 12th February, 1948. A bombed building, a tin hut or two, and very little money, but all the enthusiasm in the world, the Wrapping Machines from your own company began to take shape. For the first year, sales were £5,500 and you ' showed a loss of £1,312, but slowly but surely your machines became known, YOU became known, and your company became known. Each year showed an increase in sales and the business expanded. Losses were a thing of the past and profits began to appear. You decided that all profits should be ploughed back into the business and your personal drawings were kept to a minimum. You formed another company - A. W. ELECTRO PLATERS (NORWICH) LTD. in January, 1952, to ensure the best possible plating for your machines and this company rapidly attracted outside customers. As the profits rose, you were able to buy more machinery to produce more machines, and also to build a first class factory. As a result, the business expanded until you were selling machines to all the leading firms in England and to build a big export market. You carefully chose your Executive staff and, under your leadership, each man had his job to do. Although success was beginning to appear, things were not too easy, and as the weekly pay roll got larger, it was not simple to meet the cheque. Trade accounts were inclined to lag but you firmly insisted that the Company should pay its way without too much help from your bankers although the facilities were available. Thus, a very strong company was built up and when your sales reached the £200,000 per annum mark, you carefully analysed the position and realised the time had arrived to seek the co-operation of wider interests to enable the company to expand still further. You, therefore, agreed with your co-directors that, should a favourable offer be received for the two businesses you had created, this should be accepted. Various offers were received and explored, but you refused to let the financial bait rule over the snags. Your henchmen were sent back into the world where bowlers were worn and orchids in the buttonhole were part of the stock in trade. Soft hands and slick speech were the order of the day but only one thing mattered - THE RIGHT OFFER FROM THE RIGHT FIRM. Eventually you were put in touch with a young and virile Industrial Holding Company called Tobenoil Ltd, and negotiations hotted up. They already had a competitive firm in their fold - Ayres and Grimshaw, Ltd. of Barnstaple, and you decided that, if the right offer could be obtained, this was the Company with whom you would join forces. You decided the minimum figure at which you would sell was £100,000. The fairy waved her wand which was loaded with “AutoWrappers Special", Tobenoil were duly impregnated, negotiations became keener and keener, and it was agreed to sell the business for over £125,000. After the necessary agreements had been drawn up, the great day was 11th September, 1958, when the marriage with Tobenoil was duly solemnized. You formed a Shareholders Committee to divide the spoils, and after allowing a very generous figure to the shareholders, you insisted that the staff should benefit from the sale. You therefore allocated £15,000 for this purpose, and a carefully drawn up scheme was prepared whereby all who had helped you over the years received a present and cash and Preference Shares. Length of service was taken as the "yardstick" and you thus had the satisfaction of knowing that everyone shared your good fortune. From the amount you personally received, you donated £1,000 to the Norwich Boys Scouts Association and £1,000 to the Gainsborough Boy Scouts Association. A private Dinner Party was held at the Petersfield County Club, followed by a cocktail party at your house, at which presentations were made to the retiring Directors, and the Shareholders made similar presentations to your wife and yourself. A Dinner Dance followed, which was held at the Grosvenor Rooms on the 14th November, 1958, attended by all your staff and their friends, old and new Directors, and privileged guests. This should be the end of your life story, as we have brought events up to the end of a remarkable achievement. In ten short years, you had brought the value of the business up to £125,000 from an original capital of £8,500. You had every right to sit back and let Tobenoil, Ltd. carry on with the good work you had fostered. At the Dinner Dance, with your wife at your side, you sat at the head of the table, with Horace Martin in attendance, surrounded by your guests numbering 228. The writer of your life story sat back and observed the scene. The new Directors were all men well known in London financial circles, and Directors of several companies. Your Bank Manager and your Accountant, both of whom had helped you because they believed in you, were also present. All those present paid homage, but the writer had but one thought - CHARLES WILLIAM MADDISON - you are the best of the bunch, and they will all learn that you, with your foresight and acumen, will eventually lead them. The writer was not wrong - for it was not long before the Directors of Tobenoil recognised your sterling qualities, and on the 5th December, 1958, you were invited to join their Board. Thus, within three months of the ending of the second chapter of your life story, you commenced a third chapter, which, we feel, events will prove the most important of all. Big business is in front of you for the lusty baby you created, now grown to maturity, had gone out into the world, and you must follow. Tobenoil, Ltd. is young, as AutoWrappers was young, and your policy in building up one Company will slowly but surely be adopted to bring other companies into the Holding Company you have joined. It is forecast that, within a few years, you will be head of Tobenoil. Instead of a few shareholders to serve, you now have thousands, but they will prosper under your guidance. You were born to be a master of men, and you cannot escape your fate. You know your friends will follow your lead, and while you make new friends, you will not forget the old ones. As we said earlier, you are climbing a mountain that has no summit. CHARLES WILLIAM MADDISON - THIS IS YOUR LIFE. P. W. Liddington
Charles William Maddison - THIS IS YOUR LIFE
Photo Ref: AW0001 Charles "Bill" Maddison
Charles "Bill" Maddison 1900 - 1980
A photograph of Charles "Bill" Maddison and his wife, Violet Maddison, and on the right is  Charles best friend and business partner, Horace Martin.
Photo Ref: AW0622 Courtesy of Jean and Kenneth Cann