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A unique Kent sporting tradition

Gullands is a firm passionate about cricket and we are delighted to sponsor Mote Cricket Club here in Maidstone as well as some of the smaller local teams.  We have certainly missed the cricket season in 2020, so we caught up with artisan local cricket bat makers Andrew and Vicky Kember from Salix.  Located in Langley, the Kembers are one of the last traditional bat makers.

How long has your business been running?
Salix was founded in June 1990, so we had actually been due to celebrate 30 years in business in 2020, which was unfortunately derailed by Covid-19.

For 30 years we have been committed to making our bats in house from cleft to finish. All of our senior bats are 100% independently Salix made, by hand, to the highest levels in the industry.

Our junior bats are machined, pressed, shaped and finished in our workshops. Every single bat still passes through the same Salix craftsmen’s hands many times over to amplify quality and performance.

The value of a Salix remains rooted in our in-house processing which handles every cleft individually.  Our aim is always to maximise the potential in every blade which is made possible by our unique principles of keeping every stage in Salix hands.

Arguably the most vital part of all these processes is the pressing and this is an area in which we have specialised for many years.  We pioneered the bow in English bat making and in recent years managed to combine this deep bow with the flatter face, taking another huge leap in performance.  Year on year our bats become more powerful, yet retain the magical balance, pick-up and finish for which we are renowned.

How many generations of the family are currently involved with running the business?  
This is a first-generation business, founded by my husband Andrew, then I joined him a few years later to develop the brand.  We are unusual in that we have stayed very true to our original set-up, with the same key people and fundamental manufacturing methods.  Salix bats remain handmade here in our workshops, and every bat still passes through Andrew’s hands as an artisan owner.  To the best of our knowledge, this is unique.

What was your career before joining the business?
I left a career in publishing and translation to enable us to work together to build Salix’s profile.  We are still a very small business but are proud of our profile and reputation, which far exceeds our commercial size, as we remain constrained by the way in which they are made.

What advice would you give to someone who is starting up a new family business?
I would consider location very carefully.  Especially in these unusual times, I would locate at home if possible, to give maximum control, independence and flexibility.  Start small but exactly as you want the core of the business to be, so that you can expand and grow knowing that the fundamentals are correct and scalable.