Meet the team: Paul Lloyd-Smith, Managing Director at Ramer Sponges
Behind every successful company is a great team and no one understands that better than Ramer Sponges’ Managing Director Paul Lloyd-Smith. Having been with the company for 55 years and counting, Paul has spearheaded Ramer’s expansion and along with his close-knit team, has cemented Ramer’s reputation as the UK’s leading producer of super absorbent and super soft sponge products.
Here, we talk to Paul about how it all started, the challenges he has faced and what the future looks like for Ramer Sponges.
How did Ramer Sponges start and when did you become involved?
Well, the art of making PVA sponge was first developed during the Second World War. Scientists needed to find a substitute for balsa wood to use in the production of the frames for mosquito fighter planes. This was a top priority. The dry property of the PVA sponge, which is very strong and rigid, was used in the production of the frames but it had one drawback. The material is beautifully soft when wet which is why it never ended up in the air!
The idea for Ramer Sponges started to form in 1945 when the founder, Reginald Boswell, recognised the soft quality of the PVA sponge and its potential in the bodycare market. My father joined Ramer in 1949 and he asked me to join the firm 20 years later.
The company was originally based in Camberley, Surrey, where the rent was particularly expensive. When you consider that your neighbour is Toshiba selling electronic equipment for a lot more money than a humble sponge, the rent just wasn’t viable for us. So, we decided to up-root and move to the West Country where we bought a site in Honiton. Originally it was an army depot. There was even an unexploded bomb found nearby not long after we arrived.
We brought the packaging side of the business down to Honiton first and then five or six years later the manufacturing arm of the business came too. Our Manager at the time decided to live down in the West Country so that was a big advantage when starting the process from scratch here in Honiton.
Why sponge products and was there a gap in the market?
In 1946, synthetic sponges did not exist. The only available sponges in the world were natural sea sponges. Reginald Boswell saw the opportunity to market the PVA sponge material as a super soft, hard-wearing sponge for personal use.
Describe your job role and your main responsibilities. What is a day in the life like as Ramer Sponges’ Managing Director?
My job is to steer the business, develop a secure financial position in the marketplace and promote our brand name. The day normally starts with a meeting between Production Planning and my Executive Manager, and I ensure to regularly communicate with my National Accounts Manager for updates on sales progress. Every day is different, but I can guarantee that at some point throughout the day, you will see me on the factory floor with my sleeves rolled up and assisting with production.
What do you enjoy about working at Ramer Sponges?
I think the most enjoyment for me comes from adapting the foam to cater for a myriad of uses. The medical side always appeals to me, and we continue to work more in the industrial side. This is a challenge as the characteristics of the sponge make it difficult, the fact that it dries hard, so we are always looking at new methods to overcome those challenges
What challenges did you face during the Covid-19 pandemic and how did you overcome them?
The Covid-19 pandemic was indeed a challenge. At first, nobody knew the dangers of the virus to health and welfare so we shut the factory for a month whilst we investigated as much as we could. We reopened following Government guidance. This involved implementing one-way systems around the factory and installing hand sanitising stations. We also introduced compulsory face masks and temperature testing daily for our workforce. I’m pleased to say that to date, we have had no infections in the workplace, so our safety measures have obviously made a positive difference.
How important is teamwork at Ramer Sponges and how do you motivate your team?
No small company can exist without a dedicated team which we most certainly have at Ramer Sponges. I like to roll my sleeves up and get involved on the factory floor whenever I can. I think this is important for the team to see that I’m not one of those Managing Directors that sits behind a desk all day. I believe that showing you aren’t afraid of hard work is a great way to motivate your team.
What does the future of Ramer Sponges look like and any aims or goals that you would like to achieve?
We offer a relatively inexpensive product which is long-lasting and gives an exceptional tactile experience. With effective PR and Marketing campaigns, we hope to reach a larger audience. My goals? I’d like to hang up my spurs knowing that Ramer Sponges will continue to make bath time a breeze and that our products give people pleasure.
As the world strives to carve out a sustainable future to help protect the planet for generations to come, we’re currently looking at developing a more environmentally friendly packaging concept in an effort to reduce the amount of plastic waste we produce.
What advice would you give young people wanting to start a career in the manufacturing industry?
A few years ago, I would have said not to bother! But now, I would actually encourage young people to start a career in manufacturing. British manufacturing has always been well respected and now more than ever UK consumers are prioritising British-made products. Joining an apprenticeship scheme is an excellent starting point as you can learn vital skills on the job which usually leads to full-time employment.
Rub-A-Dub Dub, Brits take smartphones into the tub!
REVEALED: Bath-loving Brits can’t be without a smartphone, even in the bath, as the nation’s bath time habits are uncovered ahead of International Bath Day
· Britain’s bath time habits revealed ahead of International Bath Day (14th June 2021)
· A third of UK adults use their smartphones in the bath
· 24% of respondents bathe with a partner and 5% bathe with a pet
· 58% of adults indulge in a bath as a way to relax during the pandemic
At a time when self-care is more important than ever before, a third of Brits cannot put their smartphones down even when enjoying a bath.
A new study by the UK’s leading sponge producer, Ramer Sponges, has revealed that digital devices are now a part of our bath time routine. Out of 2,000 UK adults who enjoy a bath regularly, 33% of people use a smartphone with 64% of the total respondents being female.
To mark International Bath Day (14th June 2021), Ramer conducted the study via OnePoll to discover the UK’s bathing habits. Whilst it has uncovered that Brits can’t bear to part with their smartphones, even when they are taking a soak, some of the other findings are also surprising.
It seems it’s not just our digital devices joining us in the bath, as research reveals taking a bath is not necessarily a single pursuit. 24% of respondents bathe with a partner and 9% have sex in the bath, indicating that baths can play an important role when it comes to romance. Briton’s don’t just bathe with their partners. 9% bathe with their children and 5% even bathe with a pet!
The last 12 months have been testing, with 56% of UK adults having experienced symptoms of stress and anxiety during the pandemic (source: The Health Foundation). Ramer’s survey has revealed that many of us have been taking care of ourselves at home whilst facilities such as spas, gyms and leisure centres have been closed. 58% of respondents indicated that their main reason for indulging in a bath was to simply relax. 27% listen to music or a podcast, 25% like to get lost in a good book and 10% meditate whilst taking a soak.
In a time-poor culture, it seems that we are still making self-care and periods of relaxation a priority in everyday life with respondents spending on average 23 minutes in the bath. 78% of people confirmed that they feel relaxed after taking a bath, 35% feel happy, 33% feel recharged and 25% feel uplifted.
Analysing what people use to wash themselves with in the bath, Ramer discovered more than a quarter of people choose a bath sponge, a traditional bath time favourite. Sponges are paired with common bath products with 61% using bubble bath, 61% using soap or shower gel and 52% using shampoo.
Paul Lloyd-Smith at Ramer Sponges comments that the findings give a fascinating insight into modern day bathing habits.
Paul said: “To celebrate International Bath Day this year, we wanted to dive deep into Britain’s bathing habits and what we have found out has truly surprised us. For many of us, the bathroom is still seen as a bit of a sanctuary, a place for ‘me time’, but it’s been fascinating to see that for some, that means combining our relaxing soak with scrolling on a screen. Many of us might also assume that bathing is a lone activity, but our findings suggest that it can be quite sociable. 10% of us even chat on the phone whilst in the bath and 13% talk to other members of the household who are physically in the bathroom too!”
Paul continued: “Ramer’s sponges have been a bath time staple for over 70 years, and we’re delighted to hear that bath sponges are still a popular choice amongst bath lovers. With people feeling happy, recharged and uplifted after taking a bath, we encourage everyone to take some time out this International Bath Day, run a bath and take a relaxing soak.”
Ramer Sponges is the UK’s leading manufacturer of super soft and super absorbent sponge products for beauty and body care. Made from a magic material that dries hard to help prevent the growth of bacteria on the sponges, these hypo allergenic, machine washable sponges are available via department stores, superstores, high street beauty retailers, independent chemists and www.ramersponges.com.
New Facial Cleansing Sponges launched as sales of beauty products soar
Online sales of UK beauty brands have soared over the past few months as customers sought to maintain their beauty and skincare routines at home subsequent to the closure of beauty salons. More make-up means more of a need to cleanse and we’ve responded with the launch of our new Ramer Facial Cleansing Sponges.
Designed with a soft and textured surface which gently cleanses and exfoliates the skin, the new Ramer Facial Cleansing Sponge (£3.25 RRP) is unlike other facial sponges, it features a slightly larger pore size which really grips make-up residue and dirt when cleansing. Ideal for use after a night-out, or simply as part of your daily skincare routine, these sponges come in a handy twin pack. The reusable Ramer Facial Cleansing Sponges pair perfectly with an exfoliator to help unblock the pores, leaving your skin feeling fresh, glowing, deeply cleansed and radiant. Offering a reusable alternative to disposable wet wipes, simply rinse in warm water after use and leave to dry. Like all our products, the sponges will harden as they dry, helping to prevent the growth of bacteria, and will instantly soften when soaked in warm water and be ready to re-use again. Watch Emma’s video to find out more about these new machine washable, super-soft, non-scratchy, hypoallergenic facial sponges.
Introducing our new Ultra-soft Cleansing Shammy
As the government has vowed to ban wet wipes in the UK within 25 years, we’re delighted to announce the launch of our Ramer Cleansing Shammy (£4.99 RRP). New for 2019, our handy little shammy is ultra-soft, has a smooth surface and is completely hypoallergenic. Ideal for sensitive skin, this re-usable shammy removes all traces of make-up to gently cleanse the skin and is perfect for applying cleansers and lotions. The Ramer Cleansing Shammy will leave your skin feeling fresh, glowing, deeply cleansed and radiant. Unlike wet wipes, the cleansing shammy is re-usable. After rinsing in warm water, the shammy can be left to dry. Like all of our products, the shammy will harden as it dries, helping prevent the growth of bacteria, and will instantly soften when soaked in warm water.
Don’t just take our word for it. Watch SJ Strum’s video on how she incorporates the Ramer Cleansing Shammy into her nighttime skincare routine.
The Ramer Cleansing Shammy is £4.99 RRP and is available to buy on our website. Click Here:
Ramer Sponges launch the UK's first softening Wet Shave Towel
As research shows the tide is turning for hipster beards to the clean-shaven look, we’re delighted to announce the launch of our Softening Wet Shave Towel. The first of its kind, the Ramer Softening Wet Shave Towel (£4.99 RRP) has been specifically designed to deliver a barber shop experience at home. Simply immerse the towel in warm water and apply to the face. The sponge towel softens the beard and opens the pores to achieve the closest most comfortable shave and helps avoid the irritation of razor burn. The Ramer Softening Wet Shave Towel is dermatologically tested and hypoallergenic. It suits all skin types but especially those with sensitive skin. Post shave, use the sponge towel to simply wipe away any excess shaving foam. Rinse the towel in cold water to help close pores, leaving the skin feeling smooth and bristle-free.
The launch comes after statistics reveal barber shops are amongst the fastest growing consumer premises in the UK and that 55% of men are no longer embracing the hipster beard trend*. We aim to meet this growing demand by providing a luxury wet shave barber experience at home.The Ramer Softening Wet Shave Towel is part of our new range, Ramer for Men. Shop the collection. Click Here:
Freshen up your baby’s skincare routine this spring
Spring is in the air and now is the time to freshen up your baby’s skincare routine. The harsh winter months can leave your baby’s skin feeling dry and sensitive, but bath time can play a big part in helping get baby’s skin back on track – warm water and a mild cleanser coupled with our Ultra Soft Baby Sponge will help ensure your baby’s skin is softly and gently cleansed. The Ramer Ultra Soft Baby Sponge (£2.99 RRP) has been specially developed with a super-fine texture to be kind to baby’s delicate skin. Easy to hold and available in handy twin packs, the Ultra Soft Baby sponge comes in pale yellow and white, pink and rose and blue and hyacinth. The contrasting colour, hypo allergenic and dermatologically tested sponges are ideal for top to tail baby hygiene.
Don’t just take our word for it. Watch SJ Strum’s video on how she juggles bath time with three kids, with a little help from our baby sponges.
The Ramer Ultra Soft Baby Sponge is £2.99 RRP and is available to buy on our website. Click Here:
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