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65 years and still going strong – DK Holdings celebrates a Sparkling Milestone Anniversary to be proud of! – An interview with DK’s Chairman, Brian Salter

DK Holdings is celebrating its 65th Anniversary in 2024. The company, formerly named Diagrit Electrometallics, was registered on the 24th of April 1959. What better way than to celebrate by having a sit down with our Chairman, Brian Salter about how it began, how it’s going and what’s in store next?

Hello Brian, please can you give us a brief summary of how it all began in 1959 and progressed?

“It all started in Marden, just a few miles from where we are now. John (known as Jack) Dawkins, a true entrepreneur, set out to produce electroplated diamond/CBN coated cutting tools principally for the Engineering sector.

He was joined initially by Ken Cranshaw and in October 1960 by Desmond Franks and in the mid 60’s the company moved to Station Approach, Staplehurst.

We expanded our product range and developed tooling solutions for other industries including composites, glass and stone.

1978 saw us move into self-built premises comprising factory and offices, in the same road. In the years that followed, the building was extended to increase our production capacity to continue to meet increased customer demand.   

Jack was creative, inspiring and energetic.  As a colleague once said to me “they threw the mould away when Jack was born”. He was also a prominent figure in Staplehurst with many employees fondly remembering him. Latterly, a road was named after him in one of Staplehurst’s more recent housing developments.

In 1983, Diagrit Electrometallics amalgamated with Kendia Diamond Products, a major manufacturer of precision profile wheels and resinoid diamond wheels. The company’s name was changed to DK Holdings, as it is known today.

Over the decades we continued to expand, culminating in a second and adjacent factory, in which we commenced operating in 2014. Today we employ some 80 staff which includes several apprentices across departments.”

The company has been exhibiting at JEC WORLD for many years and attended successfully again in 2024, how important is the Composite industry for DK Holdings?

“Significant. In conjunction with our valued customers, we have developed diamond and CBN tooling to suit the ever-increasing innovation of composite materials.  We now work within a number of sectors such as aerospace/aviation, automotive, renewable energy and the GRP/FRP pipe industry as well as renowned research centres.”

In terms of introducing innovations when it comes to supplying Precision Diamond Tooling, DK Holdings has had its fair share over the years, which one stands out for you and why?

“Led by Jack Dawkins in the early 1990s, our technical team developed the Flexible Diamond Tooling range. This was later patented and trademarked and remains one of the bestselling products in our range – across industries and sectors.”

Over the past 65 years, the United Kingdom has seen a number of challenges whether it be recessions, or most recently COVID and BREXIT. How do you as the Chairman ensure that the company can robustly weather these challenges?

“I must start with our greatest asset; our staff. A talented, creative and flexible team that has been willing and able to rise and adapt to all the challenges we have faced over the past six decades.

Secondly, our longstanding relationships with customers and suppliers with shared values of honesty, decency and respect, build trust and goodwill.

Over the years we have developed a large and diverse product range and customer base, serving a wide spectrum of industries across the globe, all from within our extensive, modern and flexible production facilities.

There’s also an element of luck, which we all need from time to time.

Net Zero 2050 is a huge topic, with the manufacturing sector particularly under the spotlight – what is the company doing to work towards this milestone?

“Our Compliance department alongside the management team has done a great job over the years improving and maintaining our green credentials. I am proud that we have achieved ECOVADIS Silver Medal status and are a Platinum Member of The Green Organisation.


Final question Brian, what’s in store for the future?

“The emergence from a stagnant market and the negative effects of BREXIT is an ideal opportunity to further strengthen relationships with customers and suppliers and to seek fresh geographical and industrial markets, whilst retaining our core values and fiscal discipline.

Our commitment to the training, both technical and health & safety, and the wellbeing of our team, without whom we would not be where we are now, will remain a top priority.

Some of our best people are ex apprentices as history has proven. For example, I am delighted that we have recently appointed John Emptage as our Sales & Marketing Director. John joined us as an apprentice and after many years in production management accepted a position in the sales & marketing department. Educating, developing and renewing talent is vitally important to the future of this company.

As part of our drive for NetZero 2050, we will seek ISO 45001 accreditation and continue to improve our green credentials.

The company will also retain its preparedness for the next unexpected national or global crisis.

In conclusion, I am extremely proud of our achievements over the past 65 years and look forward to the future with excitement.

Feel free to contact us at info@dk-holdings.co.uk to find out more about our existing ISO accreditations and future projects.

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