“We are in the business of saving lives.”
Chris Hanson-Abbott formed Brigade Electronics in 1976, inspired by the strange beeping sound he heard emanating from the rear of a small truck on a street in Tokyo.
At the time reversing safety had not been addressed outside of Japan, but with the Health & Safety at Work Act recently passed into UK law and vehicles already accounting for a vast number of fatalities, Chris felt it time for a change.
With support from the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT), Brigade launched its first reversing alarm at the 1976 Commercial Vehicle show in London. The reaction was mixed. The press was curious, but the vehicle manufacturers and fleet owners were less enamoured, and the show ended without a single sale. To add insult to injury the publicity culminated in the Department for Transport announcing that reversing alarms contravened the Construction & Use Regulations – and were thus illegal.
Undeterred, Chris continued his quest for safer roads and worksites. He challenged the mind set of potential customers and lobbied the Government tirelessly to change regulations until eventually his drive and belief saw his vision start to be taken seriously. It took a further two years before Brigade’s first alarm sale, to a prestigious UK bus company, and many more years for health and safety culture to be fully addressed. Nowadays, vehicle safety systems are universally accepted as a necessity for plant machines and commercial vehicles and this progress has undoubtedly played an important part in saving many lives.
The experience and knowledge gained since those early days have enabled Brigade to fully understand the industry and the problems customers face. Brigade was and still is, at the forefront of the industry, whether this is pioneering new products or opening and educating new markets around the world.
The initial vision remains; to make roads and worksites safer for all.