With an annual turnover of over £13 million, and engineering roots dating back to 1930, Tong Engineering has over 85 years of experience in manufacturing robust and reliable vegetable handling equipment, from single machines to full bespoke systems.
Now exporting world-class equipment to more than 20 countries worldwide, Tong offers a vegetable handling solution for a wide range of fruit and vegetables, from potatoes, onions and carrots, to parsnips, Brussel sprouts, swedes and more. However, Tong’s beginnings were of a more modest scale when it began trading as an ironmonger in Spilsby, Lincolnshire.
Whilst the ironmongers shop was originally run by Edmund Jackson Tong, the business has seen significant growth and change over the past 85 years.
During the 1930s, Edmund’s son Ken saw an opportunity to diversify into making simple equipment for local farmers. He started his new business in a former candle making factory in Spilsby with equipment such as sack barrows and pig pens. The business flourished and became independent from the shop, which still trades as E J Tong and Sons and is run by another branch of the family.
More expansion followed in the 1980s under the influence of Ken Tong’s son, Charles, who is now Chairman of the company. He realised that increased specialisation in potato production plus significant changes in the way the crop was marketed were creating a demand for more sophisticated machinery with a bigger capacity.
An early result of the policy change was the Caretaker grader, which remains one of Tong’s best selling bits of kit, and is a strong market leader in its field. The early Caretakers offered growers and packhouses the extra throughputs they increasingly required, alongside increasingly important gentle handling to meet the demands of supermarkets and processors for a high specification crop. The Caretaker continues to offer the most advanced vegetable handling today, with continuous design development making it incredibly energy efficient whilst offering the latest technological advancements.
Fast forward to the 21st century and Charles Tong’s son Edward joined the company in 2003, resulting in the fourth generation of the Tong family bringing yet another surge of new ideas to the family business. Further expansion came in 2004 with the take-over of another Lincolnshire based company, Peal Engineering, bringing a change of name to Tong Peal until mid 2015. The acquisition broadened the company’s product range by adding a successful range of washers and polishers for potatoes and other root crops plus additional specialist vegetable handling machinery.
Further major developments during more recent years have seen Tong also diversify into the design and manufacture of heavy duty recycling equipment, for handling a wide range of waste. The addition of recycling equipment to its manufacturing bow has meant that Tong Engineering continues to grow and expand today, and now operates across two production facilities in Spilsby and Wainfleet in Lincolnshire, allowing the company to continuously adapt to increased production.