Three years ago Mangar Health was acquired by Winncare. The organisation has plenty to celebrate at the moment, not only is it marking its 40th anniversary but it has many loyal employees who have also stood the test of time.
Over the next few months, we will be sitting down with members of staff who have clocked up the years to discover how much Mangar Health has changed over the past four decades.
First off is Mangar’s longest-serving member of staff, Tracey Duggan, the Quality Control Supervisor who is based at the facility in Presteigne.
David Garman OBE and his wife, Fran, founded Mangar Health in 1981 and it wasn’t long before Tracey began working with them when she was just 16 years old and fresh out of school.
Tracey said: “You could do work experience for six months and I chose to do it at Mangar. My sister had already worked here for 12 months, so I asked her to speak to Fran to see if there was an opportunity to do work experience for three days a week with them.
“My first job here was counting out a box of 100 – 150 suckers for the original bath lift. We bought them in from a supplier and they used to have me count out each box to ensure there was the correct amount in each one.”
The original Bath Lift was the first product created and sold by Mangar Health. Its creation was brought about when David was trying to solve the problem of helping a relative get in and out of the bath. He visualised an aid which would result in a safe and dignified bathing experience for his family member. It was his skill and determination that resulted in the world’s first powered structured bath lift.
Tracey added: “After my work experience came to an end, Fran had already explained I had a job here waiting for me when I finished school. So, on the last day, I ran round to get all my teachers to sign to say I’d handed in all my books. I had a week off and then came to work at Mangar full time. I’ve been here ever since!”
Tracey began her working life on Mangar’s production floor.
“It was Fran who trained me up to do the gluing on the original bath lift. We would glue, assemble, and test each one. We used to do 20 a day each and then you’d have to leave them so long to cure and dry. After they’d dried, we would begin to assemble them, put the bellows inside and make the hose and the hand control. We would then get a compressor and inflate them.
“Then the embarrassing part! We would test the bath lifts by jumping and bouncing on them. People would walk past and laugh at us, wondering what on earth we were doing! The final stage was then called ‘clean for despatch’, we would trim the edge off the material and scrape off all the glue and the primer. It would then be wrapped up and sent out to the customer.”
After a couple of years, Tracey then moved onto making the compressors , called the Nito and Compare.
“At the time, our core products were the Nitto and Compair Compressors, the BathLift and the Booster. We then sold the Freestyle, the Porter and the Genie. Moving onto the lifting cushion, called the Leg Support.”
Mangar Health is now a medical device company with a global reach and 60 members of staff. Tracey began working at Mangar Health when there were fewer than 10 people and a couple of colleagues’ dogs.
Mangar Health manufactures its products from its Presteigne facility in mid Wales. The site has three separate working areas. Unit 11 is home to production and the repair centre. The warehouse, assembly area, quality team and dispatch are in Units 2 – 5, with R&D, customer services, purchasing and IT being found in the administration block.
Tracey can remember when Mangar looked a little different to how it is today.
“Unit One used to be Presteigne Carriage Company. There was no Unit 5 that was just a compound and tarmac between the next two buildings. Unit 3 was an organ company which made great big organ pipes and Unit 4 was Fir Tree Videos.
“Mangar Health only had Unit 2 and the administration block didn’t even exist! It really has changed loads,” she added.
After starting out in production, Tracey then became Quality Control Supervisor, which is a role she has enjoyed for 24 years.
“After my sister did not come back from having her children and the lady who used to be in charge of the production floor, Pam, left too, I was put in charge to plan and write the weekly rota and delegate jobs. I was the cell leader,” Tracey said.
“After a few years Jane Owens, along with various other people, started. Jane was Quality Assurance Manager, and I was Supervisory Cell Leader. Fran decided she wanted Jane to concentrate on getting the ISO9001 and that we were going for that award. As I’d been with the company a while and had a lot of experience with the products, Fran asked me whether I would want to work with her to help achieve this. I then moved from production to purely inspect and investigate any failures.
“I have worked in the quality team ever since. Jane and I have worked together for more than 20 years. I think I spend more time with Jane than I do with my husband!”
Why do you think you have stayed at Mangar Health for so long?
“When I think of the reason why, there are so many people who have worked at Mangar for such a long time, I believe and feel it’s because there has always been a good level of mutual respect. You’re not just a number or another employee, they actually care about you.
“It is the family vibe and there is an appreciation as an employee for what you did and do for the company.”
Which of the Mangar products would you say is your favourite?
“It would have to be all the different compressors that are my favourite products because that’s how I started really. Wiring up all the compressors and junction boxes and testing them.”