More than half a century ago Nevill Long took delivery of its first shipment from America of mineral tiles from the Armstrong Cork Company (now Armstrong Ceiling Solutions). They were transported on barges from docks on the Thames to the interior systems specialist’s warehouse in Southall (as shown in the photographs).
The 1960s were memorable for both companies. The panel side of the Nevill Long business, originally one of the largest softwood importers in the UK, had been purchased, on the retirement of the Nevill Long family, by the manager of the fibre boards division, Hedley J Meek. By 1962 he had divested some of the smaller subsidiaries to concentrate on Nevill Long & Co (Boards) in Southall and imported his first ceiling tile from Armstrong in America. Just four years later Armstrong opened its first manufacturing unit in Europe, in the UK.
Nevill Long managing director Dave Bonner particularly remembers Armstrong’s launch of the MicroLook concept to the UK in 1984. “Everyone thought the tiles would fall out,” he said. “It was visually stunning at the time and transformed the appearance of a lay-in grid ceiling. It has also stood the test of time.”
He added: “Over this period, Nevill Long has been under four different owners and all have presented challenges and opportunities. Throughout these changes (and Armstrong had some as well) the partnership has remained strong and demonstrated mutual respect. Both companies have also been able to adapt to change.”
Armstrong sales director Graham Taylor: “It is a perfect time to be celebrating the past because the future for our partnership looks stronger today than it has done for several years.”
In the early part of the millennium Nevill Long was sold to Wolseley Plc in 2006 who integrated it as a division of Encon Insulation Ltd which had been acquired by Wolseley a year earlier. Armstrong Metal Ceilings, a leading metal ceiling manufacturer in Europe, had already been acquired by Armstrong in 2000, enhancing the manufacturer’s offering to include custom solutions in metal, and then in 2003 Armstrong pioneered its recycling programme in the UK.
Most recently, Nevill Long returned to its independent roots following a management buy-out of the Encon Group led by CEO Stuart Moore in 2011.