The origins of SMI can be traced back to the days when founder Brian Seymour worked in the films and chemicals division of The Goodyear Tyre and Rubber company in Wolverhampton. He recalls: “In those distant days we sold rubber hydrochloride films, before I became personally involved in the manufacture and sales of polyvinyl chloride films, commonly known as PVC packaging film.
“This was timed as the new-look shopping age in supermarkets was born, from George Masons to Fine Fare, Waitrose to Victor Value. I even remember calling upon ASDA, who were then known as Associated Dairies.”
Brian’s grandfather was a pioneering businessman who started the AA (Automobile Association), invented the parrot beak automatic gate closing device, and even tried to bore the first tunnel for trains under the English channel, years before it eventually came to pass.
Brian has a similarly entrepreneurial spirit and, seeing the future growth of supermarkets for sale of packaging film, wrapping trays and many other products - some not yet invented - he asked Goodyear if he could leave and start his own business selling PVC, the very film he had helped to produce. The company agreed, and this was the start of Seymour Packaging Ltd, a forerunner of the SMI we see today, which took off like an express train and never stopped.
Brian says: “I produced packaging equipment, invented Meat Net equipment and the first UK produced Meat Net, registered four patents and 11 product designs. The company grew successfully very quickly and attracted attention, especially from Lin Pac plastics for whom we were selling a very large number of EPS food trays. I did not want to sell SPL, but in the end Lin Pac made me an offer I could not refuse and I retired (for about 3.5 seconds) having retained Seymour Systems Ltd. In Seymour Systems, I designed and sold to the supermarket industry I then knew quite well. It struck me that just-in-time deliveries would be needed in this new marketing world, and I questioned how a supermarket could double its turnover at certain times of the year and also comply with the growing number of food handling laws. The only way to protect many food types was to chill or freeze them.”
The solution? Tempro, which took between 7 to 10 years to test, refine and improve to make it into the most efficient insulator of its type in the world. It ripped up the rule book, broke the mould, and became a game-changer – both for the industry, and for the business.