In 1969, on the same day his newborn son Paul was brought home from hospital, John Clarke, was made redundant from the plumbing company he had been working for. He went self-employed the very next day and quickly encouraged former work mate Reg Jackson to join him. Together they formed Clarke Jackson Services.
They made a successful plumbing team but work began to dry up after a year or so. Fortunately, Reg had some contacts in the laboratory furniture business and managed to get the pair regular work connecting up laboratory sinks and fume cupboards. It was while plumbing up a wooden fume cupboard that John got to thinking about how to manufacture a superior quality fume cupboard, using moulded glass fibre (GRP). The lab furniture company showed interest but were reluctant to take his ideas further, hence John and Reg spending their own time and money developing the necessary GRP moulds and components and bringing the finished article, a cutting edge aerodynamic moulded GRP fume cupboard, to market. Initially these were sold via the lab furniture company, but news quickly spread and within a short time clients began to buy direct from Clarke Jackson Services.
In 1974 Reg, for personal reasons, decided to pursue a completely different career path. John, and wife Kay, were advised to form a new limited company and Fumair Ltd was born.
Fumair quickly and firmly established itself as a company that could provide the best quality fume cupboards and service on the market. Despite having a number of site fitters and engineers John was always prepared to muck in and get his hands dirty, and would always find a way to “get the job done”. This made him a very popular character with our customers. John led a rolling R&D programme that kept the company at the cutting edge of fume cupboard design, efficiency and safety and, despite having no sales persons or advertising campaigns the company continued to grow on the strength of word-of-mouth recommendations.
By the early 90s John and Kay’s son Paul had joined the company after gaining qualifications in electrical/electronic engineering and experience in other engineering companies. Despite being the “boss’s son” Paul experienced all aspects of the company, working with the site fitters, in estimating, maintenance, sales and on the shop floor. Paul helped bring the company into the IT age, introducing computerised admin, accounts and sales systems and a website.
In 1995, in their free time, John and some friends began the design and manufacture of the Fumair Flyer, the World’s largest pedal powered trike. The trike has gone on to become a star in its own right, featuring on TV shows across the World and taking part in a number of high-profile charity and publicity events. Unfortunately, due to time and space limitations Fumair no longer operate the trike, although it is still being run by a charity hire company and available for hire. More details can be found here.
Tragically, John passed away very suddenly in 1999. Paul took over the reigns, supported by Fumair’s loyal staff, many of whom have been with the company for over 25 years. Fumair continues to operate on John Clarke’s founding principles, namely quality, value for money and a real hands-on enthusiasm for the product. We believe it is these principles that helps us retain our enviable reputation as the most trusted fume cupboard manufacturer in the UK.
With seven grandchildren all rapidly growing up we hope John’s legacy will continue to go from strength to strength for many more generations.