A history of folding tables & chairs - the early days
Gopak Ltd (formerly known as P S Le Fleming Shepherd Ltd) started out in 1947. It was founded by Peter Le Fleming Shepherd as a one man operation, manufacturing innovative pieces of furniture from a small workshop in Mayfield, East Sussex. These items were primarily sold through retailers such as Heal's of London and Liberty's. In the early 1960s, a heavy plywood table was designed with steel folding legs, which was then sold to schools in the south of England. The design utilised some innovative techniques to enable it to be constructed without the need for screws or fixings, making it quite unique. The basic elements of this design remain today.
When the responsibility of preparing dining halls for lunch was passed from the school caretaker to the catering staff a couple of years later, the need for lightweight folding tables was identified. Peter Le Fleming Shepherd designed a lightweight folding table based on the principals of the earlier version, using aluminium with the same simple but extremely effective folding mechanism.
The unique construction of the table top helped to keep the overall weight of the table to a minimum coupled with a lightweight yet durable frame. Peter was always looking to manufacture innovative products and he often recalls his first attempt at making a vacuum formed table top using limited resources and somewhat unconventional methods.
Manufacturing Our Products
Having moved to Harbledown near Canterbury, the company relocated to a beach side location in Hythe in 1973, where we remain to this day. 66 years on and we are still manufacturing folding tables and stacking benches. We currently have a workforce of 45 - a far cry from the humble beginnings of Mayfield. Many of our team achieve remarkable lengths of service and we are proud and grateful for this level of loyalty and commitment. In fact our staff retention is so good that our combined length of service is over 600 years. The original design has been improved and enhanced over the years to enable us to produce products using the latest techniques and technology.
We also offer storage solutions such as a choice of trolleys to enable the storage and transportation of folding tables and an innovative bench skate to move stacking benches. For seating we have a chair trolley to enable easier moving of stacking chairs.
There are nearly 6000 different permutations of tables and benches that you can purchase from Gopak which is why the majority of products are manufactured to order. The one thing that has remained is the quality of the product and the dedication of our team. We also market other items of furniture sourced from reputable UK manufacturers and distributors, the sales of which contribute an increasing proportion of our turnover. As part of our commitment to providing furniture for a range of uses, we now offer specialised classroom furniture including exam desks and classroom tables. In addition, a range of reception furniture and bistro furniture provides tables, chairs and many other products for a variety of settings.
Research, Development Our Values
Our Research & Development department is constantly working on new projects and products to ensure we take the company forward using the latest techniques.
We continue to take very seriously our commitment to current legislation including Health and Safety along with ensuring we minimise and strive to reduce our Environmental Impact. Gopak Ltd achieved certification for Quality Procedures currently known as ISO9001in November 1988.
In December 2002 we were awarded Investor in People status and in May 2009 were accredited for ISO14001:2004 Environmental Management. In 2006 we purchased the Ultralight Staging System, and are now manufacturing this staging alongside the folding tables.
In 2011, having significantly developed our site to include a large extension to our manufacturing unit, we started producing the Enviro tables and benches for both indoor and outdoor use and this product range now forms a significant part of our output.
We are proud to be a British manufacturer with a loyal and dedicated workforce. Honesty and integrity continues to be our company ethos and we strive to provide the best possible buying experience for our diverse customer base by offering free delivery and numerous special offers. Our clients include: Yorkshire Purchasing Organisation, Consortium for Purchasing & Distribution, Scotland Excel, Eastern Shires Purchasing Organisation, Kent County Supplies, Findel Education, Nisbets PLC, National Trust, National Blood Service, HM Prison Service, BBC, Pinewood Studios, along with hundreds if not thousands of small organisations - churches, village halls, youth groups, businesses UK wide.
Folding tables - The Gopak way
Gopak Ltd established in 1954 is the U.K's market leader in the design, manufacture and supply of lightweight aluminium folding tables and trestle tables. We offer a wide choice of folding tables and stacking and folding chair ranges, from large and small folding tables to plastic or aluminium stacking chairs.
We aim to provide products for various types of use, including school dining tables, community folding tables, classroom tables, reception furniture and bistro furniture – catering to a wide range of needs.
As a company we value our excellent reputation that has resulted in use receiving numerous satisfied customer testimonials. We are totally committed to ensuring quality of product and service and offer free delivery for our customers.
We provide special offers on some products, best-selling items at a reduced price and stock a number of items for next day delivery. We are accredited to both a British Standard approved Quality and Environmental Management System and are Investors in People.