Small Company Award - Best Small Company - Dalau.
Polytetrafluoroethylene (PTFE) - the space programme by-product found in non-stick cookware, plumbers' tape and heart implants - is inert, naturally slippery and an electrical insulator. Within a temperature range of +260oC no known chemicals will attack it. Nor will it melt, degrade or carbonise. Dalau, a small family-owned company on an industrial estate at Clacton, Essex, specialises in doing things with PTFE that few other businesses can do.
Dalau was founded - in his kitchen - in 1955 by chairman David Sage, father of the four sons and one daughter who run this 80-strong company today. At first the business was based wholly on the manufacture of insulator mouldings for Marconi. Later came developments in extruded PTFE, using equipment designed and constructed by Sage himself, while the mouldings side expanded gradually in parallel. Rolled film and strip followed on - not for plumbers' tape, as it happens, but for engineering applications such as gaskets for Daimler-Benz. These days almost three-quarters of the factory's output is exported.