Founder and ex-chief executive Michael Hunt cashed out of Quartz this year for £4m after just four (founded in 91) years in business. Sold to Smiths Industries in 1998, the company was originally launched with personal funds and a government loan guarantee. The air conditioning unit manufacturer creates easy-to-assemble air conditioning component parts and tailor-makes 40% of the units to customer specifications. As manufacturing is relatively simple, the Dorset-based company hires long-term unemployed people as a matter of company policy. Keen to offer job security to the people who helped grow the business to £6m in 1997, Hunt secured a promise from Smiths to keep them all on.
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