40 Years of HTC’s Story
In 2018 the HTC Group celebrates its 40th anniversary. During HTC’s 40 year lifetime, we’ve had many highs, including winning our first government tenders or signing up clients like Holland and Barrett, but we’ve also had lows, the early demise of three family members, which was a great loss to the family and the business. See below the timeline of all the most important milestones, which allowed our company to become one of the leading suppliers of health supplements in the UK.
HTC Group Timeline
The financial year 2017/2018 was closed with a record figures and the highest turnover in HTC’s history. This astonishing outcome would not be possible without the dedication and determination of the team and Bez’s outstanding managerial skills. The success of the company since Bez took on the role of MD has made certain that HTC will continue to provide goods and services for another 40 years and more. The second half of 2018 started on a very positive note with signing of a new 5 year contract with our major supplier Sirio Pharma and yet another successful tender for The Prison Services In-Cell TV Contract. Our aim is still as it was 40 years ago, to serve our customers with excellent products and first class service. Here’s to another 40 years!
HTC decided to expand into the consumer market with the launch of the new Sports Nutrition brand, Clean Performance Nutrition. The new brand aims to deliver a completely new concept to women looking for products that will support their healthy lifestyles and help them get the best out of their fitness efforts. Clean Performance Nutrition focuses on self-care, happiness and helping women accomplish their goals toward leading a healthy lifestyle.
The business has steadily grown and has geared up for the new projects and the initiatives to drive further success. To tackle the increasing workload and to make sure that our service is at the same impeccable level, HTC Group was happy to create two new permanent positions within the business – in marketing and sales departments.
At the beginning of the year, Bez Drury decided to revert back to the role of a Financial Director, and the new Managing Director, Peter Groves, was appointed to help continue and steer HTC’s direction of growth, as the first non-family member to head HTC. In addition to this, in the early Spring of 2018, Cressida Cable was appointed as the new Head of Sales. We are excited to have them both joining our team and we are confident that with them on board the business will continue to go from strength to strength through its next phase of development.
After being at the forefront of human nutrition for over a decade, we have decided to venture into a new market segment and launch a brand new range of pet supplements. Sales of pet supplements have enjoyed strong growth in recent years, and the new range, which fulfils the demands of even the fussiest dogs, as well as their owners, has gathered lots of interest from our customer base.
This year was a huge milestone for HTC, as the business recorded its highest ever turnover, demonstrating that the company once again achieved its strategic goal of growing steadily and sustainably, notwithstanding economic cycles. This success was subsequently confirmed, as we were named Best Health Food Supplement Wholesaler in the prestigious 2016 Acquisition International Business Excellence Awards. We were prized with more awards from the same body in the next two consecutive years.
HTC’s hard work and persistence paid off as one of our valued customers, Holland & Barrett, awarded us one of their Top Suppliers awards after recognising our efforts to excel in customer relationship management. Further to that, our then MD, Bez Drury, became a finalist in the Business Person of the Year category of the FSB Hertfordshire Business Awards.
In October we pushed our limits during “Push it for Peace”, a muddy adventure obstacle course organised by Peace Hospice Care. ‘Trish’s HTC Health’ team raced through a challenging cross country route in memory of the former HTC Managing Director, Trish Demirag. Peace Hospice Care is our local charity, and is very close to the hearts of HTC’s team. They provided tremendous support to Trish and her family during her illness and we always try to contribute to their various initiatives to make sure others can benefit from the amazing work they do.
HTC launched a brand new website to showcase our growing product portfolio and inform potential customers of all the available services. Our efforts to bring HTC’s identity online were recognised by the Hertfordshire Business Awards where, to the delight of the whole team, we were named finalists in the Online Business of the Year category.
9 years after signing the original contract with our main supplier, Sirio Pharma, and following a successful partnership over these years, both parties decided to prolong the agreement, allowing HTC Group to offer exclusive distribution of the products manufactured by this renowned supplier in the UK and other selected European markets.
In response to market demands, we decided to launch a brand new range of products from the sports nutrition category. The line quickly picked up interest of many of our customers and was further expanded 3 years later by adding a selection of powders to the original portfolio of highly effective capsules and tablets.
While rooted in a rich sense of history, this year, we revitalised our logo with a modern and approachable look to reflect HTC’s openness and dynamism. The re-branding of the company created an energised image for HTC, resonating with the new direction in which we are headed.
This year marks a sad anniversary in the family’s calendar as it was the year when Trish Demirag sadly passed away on 30th May, after having lost the battle to Leukemia. Bez Drury, Trish’s sister, who worked at HTC since 1985 in various departments, including being a PA to Gerry for five years, took over the duties of a Managing Director. Like Trish, Bez funneled her strong entrepreneurial drive and passion into the business, which took HTC to an even higher level of success.
HTC Group started using Mini Clipper for all our warehousing and distribution requirements. Moving to this family-run business located in Leighton Buzzard enabled us to offer our customers a premier next day delivery service and take advantage of their fulfillment expertise. Mini Clipper boasts an excellent industry reputation for high end service and we are glad to have them as our primary logistical partner.
HTC’s founder, Gerry Olohan, decided to step down from his Managing Director role and entrusted the position to his daughter, Trish Demirag, who had already been working for the business for many years. been with the business for years before. Like her father, Trish’s charm and aptitude helped to negotiate new opportunities for HTC. With the business continuing to flourish, the team expanded with the addition of a Marketing and Logistics team who brought their own ideas and concepts to the business.
Our partnership with our main supplier ,Sirio Pharma, strengthened. In 2010 Sirio opened a new state-of-the-art factory that enabled us to service even more customers. Sirio currently has the biggest rolling dryer for softgel production in the world and their annual capacity reaches 8 million capsules.
2009 marks the year that HTC first imported new gummy vitamins for a major brand, Seven Seas, helping them launch a new range of tasty gummy health supplements aimed at kids as a part of their recently acquired Haliborange brand. The new additions to the beloved UK’s kids nutrition brand turned out to be a massive hit with the customer base. Supplements in this delicious format continues to gain popularity over recent years and subsequently remains a top seller for many of our bigger customers.
After establishing a successful range of health supplements, HTC Health’s management board decided to diversify into a new market of empty capsules and start supplying the contract manufacturers in the industry with top quality capsules necessary for supplements production. To this day, empty capsules constitute a significant part of our portfolio and we offer them in both gelatine and vegetarian version (HPMC or Pullulan).
HTC Health started supplying to Holland & Barrett – the biggest retail health food chain in the UK, who remains one of our most valued customers to this day. HTC Health supplies top quality supplements for Holland & Barrett’s own label. Over the years, we have won many tenders with this customer, supplying them with a diverse range of sports nutrition, herbal products and nutritional gummies in addition to health supplements. moving on to supply them in addition to health supplements, with sports nutrition and herbal products and recently also gummy vitamins.
With HTC established and thriving in its home market of AV and electronics, the Directors decided to take advantage of their trusted network of sourcing contacts and the vast pool of skills from their team, and expand into the health supplements market, making it a primary field of business. We have since grown to become one of the UK’s largest distributors of bulk diet supplements, vitamins and minerals, with this new division operating under the brand name of HTC Health.
The directors of HTC Group managed to secure an exclusive distribution deal from one of the world’s leading softgel suppliers – Sirio Pharma, for the UK and selected other European markets. This exclusive partnership with this renowned supplier enabled us to offer our customers consistent top quality products and unbeatable prices and saw both parties share resources, jointly develop their businesses and strengthen their industry reach.
To enable customers to take advantage of the convenience provided by the latest technology, HTC decided to launch our first webshop for sales of electronic products. The first website was available under the domain Digisaurus.co.uk and it allowed registered users to purchase goods online.
HTC Group decided to move the head office to its current premises in Watford. The Headquarter of the company to this day remains in this grade listed charming building, located close to Watford Junction Station. With HTC already being heavily involved in local fundraising projects, Gerry Olohan further contributed to the community’s unique identity by taking on the role of a Director of the Hertfordshire Chamber of Commerce and filled this post for the following 9 years.
Following earlier cooperation with a Chinese associate,Linboa Zhang, HTC decided to set up a full time office in China. To manage the increasing import volumes from Far East, we employed two local experts, who to this day oversee our logistical process and manage relations with our network of suppliers. Having two experienced team members near Beijing, the industrial heartland of China, gives us a unique capacity to manage sourcing projects from start to finish.
HTC Group managed to secure their first Government tender for In-Cell televisions (worth 3 million pounds). This was one of the most important achievements and certainly helped to increase revenue, and subsequently was also awarded Scottish Prison Service contract. We were successful in retaining these contracts for a number of years. In the same year HTC introduced branded consumer electronic products into Tesco stores. Supplying Tesco with £1.5 million of product over a period of 3 months, was probably the best “one-off” deal HTC has ever achieved.
As the company continued to grow, office space tightened. The team began discussing what the next step was for HTC and decided to move from their modest Wembley offices to Croxley Green industrial park. This was a much larger premises which had office space with a conjoining warehouse facility.
Following a period of intense growth and expansion, HTC Group set up our first website for consumer and professional AV products that were being sold to trade and commercial users in the UK.
This year was a significant milestone for HTC, as the company evolved from solely distributing AV products to distributing health supplements for the first time. The first health supplements that were sourced following a customer request, were Bee Propolis and Royal Jelly. HTC were supplying 260 tonnes a year, while whole of China was producing around 400 tonnes at the time. Little did they know this would later open a door of opportunities to supply a whole new range of quality health supplements to the UK market.
Navigating through many obstacles, Gerry Olohan has witnessed many ups and downs while setting up his Far East operation – many promising deals that were never completed, but also many interesting projects, where HTC managed to succeed. In this photo, he’s meeting with Professor Zhou Weichen, a powerful Minister in the Chinese government and the chairman of China Unicom, the second largest telecommunication company in China. Gerry managed to obtain from them a contract for 20,000 mobile phones. Being the entrepreneur that he is, he immediately moved on to other deals like putting in place the first GSM infrastructure throughout China. Unfortunately, this project didn’t end with a success, as that would have been a major breakthrough for HTC.
Another difficult year for the company and Olohan family. It is then, that Gerry’s wife, Patricia, passed away, having lost the battle to Leukaemia. Patricia, who was the company’s Account Manager and played an important role in the early success of HTC, also took care of their 6 children. Without her help, HTC would have not thrived the way it eventually did.
HTC Group first decided to seek competitive advantage in products imported from the Far East. The initial range of product was very broad and included anything from furniture, wooden pegs and titanium rods to chemicals and hair formula. In order to oversee the international operation, HTC hired a Chinese associate – Linbao Zhang, to run the company’s division in China.
This year marks a sad chapter in HTC’s history as it’s the year Gerry’s son, Stephen, died. He had shown a great talent in the short time he worked for HTC and his sudden death was a great shock to everyone.
HTC Group Limited (formerly Hadley Trading Company) was founded by Gerry Olohan, and started trading from a premises in Wembley. HTC began selling AV products to the trade. From the birth of HTC, Gerry had a vision of what he wanted: a company offering a reliable service, with a skilled team that could deliver competitively priced products. Initially, the company started off with 3 employees – Gerry, his wife Patricia and his brother Joe.
It wasn’t long before they needed more hands on board and decided to look for them among their loved ones. Eventually, over the years, the company has employed 11 members of the family, including Gerry and Pat’s sons, Tony, John, Stephen, followed by their daughters Patricia, Berenice and Ruth, as well as 2 daughters-in-law and a son-in-law. This small team were soon to make a name for themselves within the AV industry, as they all worked hard and were part of the early success of HTC.
These years were the backbone of the present HTC, the energy and hard work each family member put into the business is why HTC is here today. It was the Electronic business that provided the finance for HTC to look at other ways of increasing business, even if this led to diversification. The company had accounts with all the major manufacturers of Consumer Electronics and was selling products to many European countries as well as Africa, USA & Japan.