Kentec News : The History of Kentec Kentec News : The History of Kentec



The History of Kentec

This month marks 45 years since the foundation of Kentec, and while many of our clientele may be familiar with the Kentec of today, our history showcases just how a third-generation family business driven by a passion for excellence and service can lead from humble beginnings operating out of an old cellar, to a industry-leading business.

The journey of Kentec is a testament to the dedication and vision of its founder, John Booker, and the continued commitment of his family, particularly his son and current group managing director, Steve Booker, in building a successful and reputable business.

Foundation of Medway Draughting Services: After being made redundant in 1972, John Booker founded his own business, Medway Draughting Services as a draughtsman, designing and drawing various projects. The business initially operated from a cellar under a hairdressing salon owned by John and his wife Greta.


Steve Booker (Kentec's Managing Director) and his late father John (Kentec's Founder)

Diversification into Manufacturing: Medway Draughting Services evolved into a limited company in April 1977. In July 1978, John founded Medway Handling Engineers Ltd, which later became Kentec Tool Hire, manufacturing hydraulic components and steel work structures designed by the draughting company.

From 1978 to 1980, John had established an installation team within the engineering division, installing many of the components and steelwork structures designed by the draughting division.

During this period, the team had accumulated a good stock of plant, machinery, tools and equipment for installation, material handling and engineering; mainly stored in the Booker family garage at their home. Steve, then only 12, worked alongside his father, wherever possible, repairing and maintaining equipment, assisting with the transportation of plant and sometimes working with the installation team. It was here that Steve found his love for plant and equipment and especially working at height.

Expansion and Tool Hire: In 1980, Kentec expanded into plant, equipment and tool hire, establishing the first Tool Hire Centre in Snodland, Kent. Steve played a pivotal role in growing the hire and training operation working evenings and weekends with John since he was only 14 years old and was familiar with the plant machinery and equipment available.


Medway Handling Engineering Ltd - Snodland Tool Hire Centre - 1980

Rebranding and Growth: The hire division was rebranded as Kentec Tool Hire, and Medway Draughting Services Ltd became Kentec Technical and Draughting Services, all under the holding group company Kentec Group Ltd. Kentec Tool Hire continued to expand to new locations in Kent and East Sussex. 

Safety Awards and Certification: Kentec Tool Hire was one of the first companies to be awarded the HAE's Safety Assessment Scheme certification in January 1992, highlighting its commitment to safety.

It was at this time Kentec started to offer training services covering skills such as Abrasive Wheels and Mobile Tower assembly. In 2003 Kentec become one of the first PASMA training providers in the Southeast. Kentec has since gained accreditation as a training provider for many bodies including The Ladder Association, IPAF, British Abrasive Federation, IOSH, NEBOSH, NPORS, RTITB, Lantra and CITB.

Supporting Local Sports and Charities: Kentec continued to support local charities like the Maidstone Hospice, seen here after a charity lorry pull shifting a 10-ton lorry over 200 feet in 22 seconds. Kentec also sponsored the local Snodland football team.


The Kentec Tool Hire truck pull team, in which Steve Booker can be seen holding the winning trophy - 1994

More Expansion and Growth: Kentec Tool Hire, which included the training division (later to become Kentec Training), continued to strive forward and by 2001 had re-located to larger premises in Tonbridge, Kent.


Riverdale Estate, Vale Road, Tonbridge - 2001

Awards and Recognition: Kentec Tool Hire received recognition for its professionalism, winning the Executive Hire Shows 'Passionate Hire Award for Small to Medium Hire Centres' in 2011.


Executive Hire Shows 'Passionate Hire Award for Small to Medium Hire Centres' - 2011

Kentec moved on achieving 100% compliance with Achilles, ISO9001 and ISO14001.

Family Involvement: Steve's daughter, Jadie Booker, joined the company in 2011, followed soon after by sons Antony Booker and Matthew Booker in 2014, completing the family business. Each family member brought their unique skills and contributions to the company.

Adaptation during COVID-19: Despite the challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020, Kentec continued to provide its services under strict controls ensuring our services were applied where needed and the safety of all our team and clients was as safe as possible. Our investment in training and accreditation under the BSiF ‘Fit2Fit’ scheme proved invaluable at this time as we had a full team of instructors who could carry out face fitting services for respiratory protective equipment for clients like the NHS, BUPA and other public and private health services.

Recent Expansion: In 2021, Kentec decided to relocate its hire operation to a larger premises in Tonbridge.

Kentec Tool Hire's new premises on TON100 Business Estate, Morley Road, Tonbridge - 2022

This provided better facilities for the hire operation including better retail area, workshop, storage and environmentally friendly plant and equipment washdown area.

Kentec Training also underwent an office and administration centre refurbishment including new offices, meeting rooms, training rooms and signage enhancing its facilities.

 Core Values: Kentec's success has been built on the core values of trust and integrity, quality of service, and a strong emphasis on family and legacy. These values have maintained a solid foundation and helped the company grow and maintain its reputation.

Commitment to Safety and Training: Kentec Training has become a premier provider of health and safety, work at height, workplace safety, forklift, and first aid safety training programs, emphasizing safety for individuals and organizations.

Furthermore, Steve Booker's involvement in industry organisations like PASMA, IPAF, and the Ladder Association highlights both his and Kentec's dedication to improving and promoting safety and best practices in the workplace. Kentec Training's reputation as one of the UK's premier training providers speaks to the company's commitment to helping individuals and organizations stay safe and informed.


Steve Booker heading a Ladder Training Committee Meeting - 2016

Overall, Kentec's journey from its inception to its current status as a leader in its field is a testament to the value of hard work, dedication, and a commitment to core principles. It's clear that the company's legacy will continue to grow and thrive under the leadership of the Booker family and the fantastic team we have behind us.

If you'd like to find out more about our hire services or training courses, call us today on 0333 666 0555 or email our sales team at