IT STARTED life in a tiny shop on Drayton High Street.
But now, 25 years later, it has grown to become one of Europe’s largest manufacturers and suppliers of conservatory blinds, window blinds and shutters.
Thomas Sanderson has marked a quarter of a century in business and is looking ahead to another 25 years of growth.
The firm was founded by husband and wife Bob and Norma Thomas in 1991 and grew quickly.
The company moved to the Parkwood Centre in Waterlooville in 1992 and in 1996 Bob took the decision to buy a huge consignment of fabric from an Australian company that had gone bust.
Current managing director, Nigel Campkin, said: ‘We had so much of it you couldn’t turn in any direction without seeing the fabric.
‘We had it stacked up under people’s desks, behind doors, even above the ceiling tiles.’
The decision inspired the first ever autumn sale, something that played a major part in the company’s growth over the next 10 years.
In 1998, Thomas Sanderson moved to its current home in Waterlooville, where it has produced on average more than 170,000 blinds per year.
Bob and Norma sold the business through a management buyout in 2001, almost 10 years to the day from starting it.
Two years later in 2003 it was purchased by Hunter Douglas, the largest window coverings business in the world.
However, the firm has retained its family business feel and continues to have several generations of families working together.
Mr Campkin said: ‘Bob and Norma were passionate about what they did and believed firmly in incentive and reward whilst having what they called “serious fun”.
‘We’ve fought hard to maintain that culture and I believe it’s played a big part in Thomas Sanderson’s growth over the decades. The desire for growth is in the DNA of the company.’
Over the years the company has diversified and brought in a range of new products, including wooden shutters, automated control systems and even a conservatory valet service. In recent years it has acquired additional space in Coventry and Warwick to meet the demands of the UK market.