Last year, adhesives distributor Techsil announced a fourth acquisition in the past decade. What was unusual about this one was that it was Techsil itself being acquired.

Chris Dilley
Chris Dilley

Managing director Chris Dilley (pictured above) explains the business and places the latest move into context.

Describing Techsil as a technical distributor, he says: “A lot of our customers are engineers. They come to us for adhesive consultancy because they aren’t experts [in that]. They are experts in electronics or mechanical or fastening. They know they need an adhesive, but have no idea which one, or how they might dispense it. I often say, we’re not a supermarket where you just buy an off-the-shelf product that does the job. We discuss the application to find the right material and the right specification for the job.” 

These customers are likely to come from automotive, automotive electronics, aerospace, defence and general electronics sectors, he adds. 

Equally wide-ranging is Techsil’s buyer, Diploma, which also owns Clarendon Speciality Fasteners, M Seals and Rayfast (electrical harnesses) and operates three divisions: controls, seals and life sciences. Dilley explains that the plan for the future of Techsil is to sit in the controls bit, and build a global adhesive segment within that. 

Export already accounts for 30% of Techsil revenue, the managing director points out. “We have a global customer base, which is easier to support with more local stocking than out of the UK. Our global customers are growing. Many are multinational, so we often find that our exporting is driven by ‘designed in the UK, manufactured overseas’. Because we work at the design stage, we want to retain that revenue.” 

Now 33 years old, Techsil has long been a distributor of Momentive silicone-based products, and Dilley says it remains Momentive’s largest customer in electronics.  

But there was a shift about a dozen years ago, he adds. “We felt that there was a business risk there, to be reliant on one partner. So we expanded the range, and looked for new partners, for two reasons: to reduce risk and to bring in a broader range of adhesive technologies.” 

Now the company’s offering includes epoxies, cyanoacrylates, UV technologies, anaerobics, MMAs, polyurethanes, tapes and hot melt. Along the way, Techsil acquired M-tec, Fospat Industrial, and Glueline, and launched partner deals with ThreeBond Europe, Power Adhesives, ITW Stokivs Tapes, Dr Hoenle, Panacol, Fastfixers, MG Chemical and EFD Nordson. 

While the brands might not be some of the biggest in the UK, what’s most important to Dilley is that the deals offer it exclusive access to product. He says: “The relationship between distributor and manufacturer is really important. If you can concentrate and have a solus relationship, you get better support. They take you more seriously as a front-line vendor.” 

Techsil’s headquarters in Bidford, Warwickshire offer warehousing and office space and also host a small laboratory for applications development and testing, with UV lamps, vacuum chambers, a viscometer and an oven for heat-curing, with access to manufacturers’ facilities for more in-depth testing. These facilities won’t change with the change in ownership, Dilley promises. 

He says that there are synergies between Diploma and Techsil, in terms of the markets that they serve, and a common experience in added-value distribution. Techsil does a lot of authorised repackaging into customised kits and packs; for fasteners, Diploma repacks bags of fasteners from 10,000 to 10s and 50s. Dilley explains: “We won’t get involved in that, but it’s a similar concept. We are just at the start of trying to look at synergies in customers and markets. Some of our customers that buy fasteners might buy adhesives as well, for example, or the other way round.”