Wm Clark and Son (Parkgate) Ltd has provided engineering and forestry services for almost 100 years and are one of the UK’s leading suppliers and manufacturers of forestry equipment. From humble beginnings as the local blacksmith and farrier in 1924, the family business has always been at the forefront of engineering design and innovation and currently, together with its sister company Powerhand, operates from a 50,000 sq ft factory on a five-acre site with over forty employees.
Still under the ownership of the Clark family, our company is now in its fourth generation and the future has never looked better.
The Early Days
Founded in 1924 by William Clark, the business started with the purchase of the assets of a small blacksmith’s workshop and field at Parkgate, Dumfriesshire for the sum of just under one hundred pounds. The site of the original blacksmith’s workshop where our company began lies within the much larger site our Clark Engineering workshops still occupy today. Shoeing of local working horses including forestry horses that assisted in hauling timber in the nearby Ae Forest, linked Clark to the forest industry from the very early days.
The General Strike in 1926 almost brought William Clark’s fledgling business to its knees. The miners’ strike lasted from May until the end of November which meant that both coal and steel were unavailable for a long period – the basic raw materials of the blacksmith’s smithy. Around the same time Parkgate Post Office and Telephone Exchange became vacant and William’s wife, Sarah, became Postmistress and was able to ensure that the smithy was able to continue.
William and Sarah’s son, Murray, left school at the age of 14 and joined the family business in 1940. Murray began to design and manufacture a range of forest cultivation ploughs.
The Plough Years
By the mid-1960s, Clark offered a full range of forestry ploughs. Over 2000 ploughs were sold and exported worldwide and much of the UK’s established forests were initially cultivated with Clark ploughs. Wm Clark and Son also developed deep working ploughs for specialist applications such as salt ridging in Iraq, oil exploration in Australia, irrigation in Africa and sub-sea cable trenching around the UK coastline.
In the early 1980s, the decline in bare ground tree planting in the UK, along with changes in cultivation techniques resulted in the degeneration of plough manufacturing and so, Doug Clark, Murray’s son, moved the company into the sale and manufacture of specialised timber harvesting equipment. During the 1980s, Clark became the distributor for many of the world’s leading forestry equipment manufacturers, including Indexator Ab of Sweden and OFA tyre chains of Finland; relationships that still exist today. At this time, the company also began the design and production of forest machine tracks (which eventually became Clark Tracks Ltd), and their first range of Clark log grapples.
The production of forest machine tracks began in 1988 and Clark became the second largest manufacturer of this equipment worldwide. Most Clark tracks were fitted to Nokian forestry tyres which resulted in a close technical relationship with Nokian and ultimately the UK distributorship for Nokian Tyres in the UK. A new company, Nordic Tyres, was formed in 1999 to sell and market all Nokian heavy tyres. Clark Tracks Ltd was broken away from the main business and ultimately sold to Gunnebo Industries Ab in 2007.
Moving Into New Times
Over the following years, Clark secured the dealerships of many more of the world’s leading forestry equipment manufacturers who are still represented today including, ExTe, Cranab, Markusson, Oregon, Tamtron and more recently FaoFar for their range of forwarding trailers.
After the sale of Clark Tracks the company moved into new areas, one of which was the sale of forestry PPE and arborist equipment led by Doug’s wife, Yvonne. Securing the world leading Pfanner and Protos distributorships for the UK and Ireland in 2012, this business grew substantially, resulting in the formation of a new company, Outwear Ltd, in 2018. Outwear operates from its own warehouse in Lockerbie and now represents many leading brands for the professional outdoor worker and outdoor enthusiast.
Product Design and Innovation
Progressing into the new millennium, design, innovation and product development has been at the heart of the company and today Clark leads the market with their range of innovative refuelling tanks and systems, whilst the Powerhand division is a leading designer and manufacturer of forestry, sawmill, recycling and railway attachments.
2019 saw the company reach a new milestone in its history, with Murray, the son of Doug and Yvonne Clark, becoming the fourth generation of Clarks to join the family business. Murray assumed the role of Managing Director in 2021 and with an experienced team beside him and the opening of a newly built Advanced Machining Centre in 2022, he is following in the entrepreneurial footsteps of his predecessors, setting the company on a new trajectory, with the future looking as positive as ever.