Black and white photograph of an early EP Barrus exhibition stand

EP Barrus marks its 100-year anniversary

Published:  26 September, 2017

EP Barrus Ltd marked its 100th birthday on September 18th, 2017. You may not be familiar with the name Barrus, but you will be familiar with the brands in its portfolio: Mercury outboard engines; Quicksilver leisure and fishing boats; John Deere and Yanmar marine and industrial engines, Cub Cadet garden machinery; WOLF-Garten and Wilkinson Sword garden tools … to name but a few.

In 1917 Ernest Prouty Barrus set up a company in the UK to supply Starrett precision tools, including micrometers and measuring equipment, and distributed them throughout Europe. Over the last 100 years, Barrus has diversified into multiple markets, including marine, garden and Industrial.

The company is now co-owned by the Glen family and MTD Holdings – based in the USA – and is one of the largest producers of outdoor power equipment in the world.

Barrus entered the industrial engine market during the mid-1930s with the introduction of Johnson Iron Horse industrial engines and Chore Horse generators. Both saw service throughout the Second World War. Most Spitfires and Hurricanes had their batteries topped up by Chore Horse generators.

The Industrial Division was launched in 1985 with the introduction of the Yanmar L Series engines, the first industrial engine to meet CARB (California Air Resources Board) regulations.

They became the number one supplier of small air-cooled diesel engines in the UK and Ireland and grew their market share in water-cooled diesel engines with Yanmar, and also as the UK and Ireland industrial engine distributor for John Deere.

Today, the company has long-standing partnerships with global suppliers, representing more than 30 leading brands which are distributed by more than 3,000 authorised dealers nationwide. And Barrus designs, develops and builds engines for customers across the UK and overseas at its modern engine-building facilities at its headquarters at Bicester in Oxfordshire.

Robert Glen, chairman of EP Barrus and the grandson of the founder Ernest Barrus, said: ‘As we celebrate our centenary we reflect on our proud past and most importantly express our sincere thanks to our customers, suppliers, distributors and partners and loyal employees who have put their trust in Barrus and helped build the company’s success.’

Over the years Barrus has been responsible for numerous innovative products and solutions including many firsts to be introduced to the UK market. These range from the first claw hammer, ride-on lawnmower and gas-fired garden barbecues. The D-BAT was a diesel powered all-terrain vehicle popular with the military. The FAST PIRS – an engine that can be rapidly restarted after being submerged – was also pioneered by Barrus for the armed forces and rescue organisations. And a multi-fuel outboard motor developed for the UK MoD capable of running on four different NATO fuels.

‘One hundred years in business represents a tremendous milestone,’ said Robert Muir, managing director, EP Barrus Ltd.

‘Not only are we looking back but also forward, focusing on the company’s future to build on our success and best serve our customers. 2017 is, indeed, a momentous year with recent announcements including our exciting new location plans which will enable us to grow the business.

‘The acquisition of the gardening gloves and footwear company Town & Country and the engine supply contract recently awarded to Barrus by Atlas Eletronik UK who will build the £48m next generation Royal Navy workboats.
‘As our centennial strapline states: We are celebrating our first 100-years, gearing up for the next.’

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