A company which has preserved a historic piece of Barnsley’s (Northen England) manufacturing past will soon see the 30 millionth badminton shuttlecock fly out of its factory.
Echelon Sport makes five million synthetic shuttlecocks every year at its base in Barugh Green and is principal supplier to the Carlton brand as well as dealing with other marques including Head.
It can lay claim to being Europe’s only shuttlecock manufacturer and now, with recent back-up from business support organisation Enterprising Barnsley, is fast approaching the 30-millionth product milestone.
Echelon has its foundations in the Dunlop Slazenger sporting goods plant which employed hundreds of local people and famously provided tennis balls to Wimbledon from the Second World War until its closure in 2001.
Directors Steve Cole and Ray Clark were former workers with half a century of combined financial and production expertise respectively. They seized the opportunity to preserve shuttlecock manufacture in Barnsley which had gone on since the 1980s, launching Echelon in 2002.

The duo maintained logistical elements, including equipment, of the former Dunlop Slazenger enterprise as well as safeguarding jobs of six skilled local craftsmen. Smart working practices and high-tech investment in advanced injection-moulding tools have allowed the company to fully compete with Far Eastern manufacturers. The automated assembly line produces up to four shuttlecocks every nine seconds with between 60 and 70 per cent of all shuttlecocks produced in Barnsley being exported.

Ray explained: “Shuttlecocks must adhere to strict standards of weight and size and are very precisely engineered to give a nice smooth flight with no wobbles. In addition, the shuttlecocks we produce are highly durable making them a popular choice with many players.”

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