David Marshall, a former scout of Trinity College, Cambridge, founded Marshall of Cambridge in 1909 at the age of 36. He was appointed steward of the University Pitt Club, where he had the task of rescuing the club’s poor financial position. This he did by investing in the nascent motor industry, offering wealthy dons and undergraduates chauffeur-driven cars for a fee. In the 1920s Marshalls, under the impetus of David’s son, Arthur (who competed in the 1924 “Chariots of Fire” Paris Olympics), moved into the burgeoning aerospace business, and has remained at the leading edge of technology ever since. Michael Marshall, current chief executive, is the third generation of his family to manage the company. The Marshall group is made up of six distinct companies, all of which revolve around transport, but it is the aerospace activities which deliver the serious profits. Marshall Aerospace, which designed and manufactured Concorde’s distinctive droop nose, has sales of approximately £100m. During the Falklands War, Marshall designed and produced an in-flight refuelling system for the Hercules in just three weeks. It currently maintains the RAF’s Hercules transport fleet, as well as Boeing 747s for British Airways. The company also helped develop the Bacon Cell, which provided power, oxygen and water for the 1969 moon landing. Marshall has seen its profits grow 47% a year, from £3.2m in 1996 to £10.2m in 1999, on sales growth of just 7% a year, from £378.1m to £461.6m in the same period. “It is the mix of business which makes us so profitable,” says group finance director Bill Dastur. “Our aerospace operation delivers handsome margins, but all of the other activities have contributed strongly to profit growth.”
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