We’re probably best known as a preferred supplier to the Emergency Services and Health Sector for our range bespoke bags and medical supplies, but our expertise doesn’t stop there. Our bespoke approach can be used within any industry and enables us to design, manufacture and source products to suit your requirements.
125 Craven Street, Birkenhead, Merseyside, United Kingdom, CH41 4BW
Openhouse Products design and manufacture bags mainly for the emergency services, however we also supply a large range of off the shelf bags as well as medical equipment and consumables.
Here at Openhouse Products it’s a real family affair. Launched by former Singer Sewing-Machine repair-man, Brian Jones, in 1992, we now employ over 35 full-time staff including wife, Helen (Finance Director), son, Andrew (Director), daughter, Samantha (Director), and brother-in-law, John MacDonald, (Head of Production).
But just how did Brian stumble upon the concept of what we now know as the ever-essential modern paramedic bag?
“We were burning the midnight oil, working through the night to finish one of our first really big orders – laptop carriers as it happened – when the husband of one of our seamstresses turned up to collect her. He was a firefighter. He took one look at the lap-top bag I was in the middle of making-up and said that it’d make a superb kit bag for paramedics”, explained Brian. “I was concentrating really hard and, to be frank, I was shattered. As he was walking out the door, what he’d said suddenly registered. So I called him back and asked him what he meant. I thought at the time that paramedics must already have good, professional bags to hold all their equipment. ‘No. Mostly they bring in their own sports bags’, he replied. ‘And I even know one who uses a cardboard box!’… I was astonished. It was a real ‘Eureka!’ moment. The very next day I had him take me over to meet his mates at the local ambulance station. I couldn’t believe my eyes! I spent the lunch-break asking ambulance crews about the kit they had to carry around and found out how difficult it was for them keeping track of it all and laying their hands on the items they needed in an emergency. I went straight home and started sketching ideas. Two days later I took my prototype back into the ambulance station to get their feed-back. I was bowled over. Even the guy with the cardboard box wanted one! Since then we’ve made literally tens of thousands of paramedic bags, most of them bespoke designs, based on the specific need of whichever service ordered them.”
One of our earlier designs
Openhouse Products may be a family run-business but it’s also one big, bustling extended-family. Head of Design, Phil Sim, has been in charge of research and development for over seven years, while Sales Director, Bruce Burns, has been winning over major clients in all sectors for over nineteen years and is known as ‘the bag-man’ within the ambulance service. “It’s great to be part of a business that actually puts something back into the ambulance service”, says Bruce, “and it’s led to us having a far better understanding of the people we’re aiming our products at.”
General Manager, Chris Ward, loves the energy and positive attitude which Brian brings out in all his team, regardless of their individual role within the company. “The idea for micrAgard came about over one weekend at Ambex when the hot topic among paramedics visiting our stand was infection-control and the many situations in which the average paramedic’s kit-bag would be exposed to harmful bacteria. One of the great skills that Brian brings out in all the team is the ability to ask the right questions of customers and then really listen actively so that you take their feedback on board. What happens is that the customer gets the confidence to tell you exactly what it is they’d like in the ideal product they need…If only they had the skill to sit down and design it themselves. When you think about it logically, who’s more expert on a clients’ needs than the client himself? So, we introduced the idea of a CAD system on the stand where the customer could sit down with Andrew or one of the design team and have immediate input into the design they’re after. They can choose the colour, the fabric, the weight, everything, and then see it there… right before their eyes!’
We supply almost all of the ambulance Services across the UK – including London, Scotland, West Midlands and North West, and we’re excited every time we enter discussions with a new emergency services client. We get a particular buzz when we’re asked to meet unexpected requests from clients.
Openhouse serves a wide range of industries across England and Europe. In addition to medical & emergency services we also cater for the armed forces, the automotive industry, the food sector, audio-visual, disaster management and numerous health & safety organisations. Though we’re probably best known as a bespoke luggage manufacturer to the emergency services our product range doesn’t stop there. Our bespoke approach means we design, manufacture and supply products for any industry that asks for our support. Phil and his design team have a unique knack for developing exactly what you need. It’s especially satisfying when you get a challenge that’ really forces you to either think completely outside the box or, better still, think simply.
Openhouse bags are regularly featured on television
Despite the global sales success of the micrAgard product range, the secret of our amazing track-record is ‘focus’. Our primary focus is always on our own customers and our own product plans. While we’re aware of other suppliers, we concentrate solely on our own ideas and then develop them. The only time we look outward is to source either the best materials or the best technology and scientific advice. After we conceived the concept of micrAgard we consulted material chemists an experts in microbiology, both here and overseas. The great challenge was to ensure that it would also be flame-retardant to aircraft standards. Then we had to globally source every material required to achieve exactly the product we wanted to manufacture. When you’re ordering 50,000 metres of expensive scientifically-designed material you tend to think about how many pairs of curtains you’ll be left with if it doesn’t work out. Believe us, it focuses the mind!
By combining the best in British manufacturing and hand finishing techniques along with the very latest in computer-aided design and production technology we have proven once again that it’s possible to supply Twenty-First Century carriage solutions that incorporate the traditional long-lasting values of the true craftsman.