With an annual turnover of over £19 million, and engineering roots dating back to 1930, Tong Engineering has over 90 years of experience in manufacturing advanced and efficient vegetable handling equipment, from single machines to complete, custom-built handling solutions.
Now exporting world-class equipment to more than 50 countries worldwide, Tong offers a vegetable handling solution for a wide range of crops 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 90 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. The acquisition broadened the company’s product range once again by adding a successful range of washers and polishers for potatoes, carrots and other root crops, plus additional specialist vegetable handling machinery.
As well as the development of the company’s vegetable washing, polishing and processing equipment, the company also extended its product range further with the addition of heavy duty recycling equipment suitable for sorting and recycling a wide variety of waste materials. In 2015, after 27 years at the helm of the company, Charles Tong took the role of company Chairman as he handed over the reigns to his son Edward, who became Managing Director, and the company changed its Tong Peal branding back to Tong.
Tong continues to adapt and grow today, and now manufactures industry leading handling solutions that are in operation across the globe. As the company pursues its ongoing expansion plans, Tong is pleased to have commenced works on a new two-phase state-of-the-art manufacturing facility in its hometown of Spilsby, with the first phase build now in full operation, and plans for second phase completion by Autumn 2021. The new facility boasts advanced manufacturing systems and increased production capacity, ensuring Tong is well placed to produce the highest quality handling equipment and meet worldwide industry demands as they continue to progress.