Rock Technologies manufacture chalk and related products for Rock climbers.
We are based in Greenfield, Chew Valley in the shadow of Wimberry, surely one of the finest and most underrated crags in the Peak district.
As climbers, we only produce products that we use ourselves, we test any developments ourselves with the support of our sponsored climbers, we don’t have a big team of climbers to sponsor and we don’t have a large marketing budget, (this website is the most expensive marketing operation that we have ever carried out) therefore combined with efficiency of production we are able to offer high quality products at reasonable prices, usually cheaper than big brands who are importing from the far East.
It was all Bill Birch’s fault. My friend and long term climbing partner for many years was bemoaning the fact that he couldn’t get reliable supplies of chalk balls from his current supplier and I was moaning about having no money.
I suggested to Bill that I could make chalk balls for him. How hard could it be?!
Having persuaded my wife this was a good idea and secured a loan for machinery and raw materials, Rock Technologies was born in my mother’s garage in 2001. With little idea how chalk balls were made, I developed a production process from scratch which remarkably, is quite similar to the system that we still use today. In the first year, I made (and Bill sold) 50,000 chalk balls.
We soon outgrew the garage and moved to a unit in Tanners mill in Greenfield. I took on additional staff, in the shape of John Lewis, who is still with us, but now as Production Director, handling the day to day production and fulfilment of orders. We now have 5 people working in the business and in 2017, we sold 500,000 chalk balls.
Before Bills retirement, he had started the process of setting up distributors in mainland Europe and in 2019, we now have distributors across Europe and beyond and also manufacture own brand product for some of the most respected names in the climbing equipment world. Sadly, Bill died in 2017 but I think he would have been proud at what we have achieved.
Looking forward, we are trying to reduce the packaging in products whilst looking at using more sustainable materials, like every other manufacturer, we await the outcome of Brexit with a keen eye whilst trying to anticipate what problems it will cause and (with the glass half full) what opportunities it may present.
Richard Hyde, Greenfield, December 2019
The majority of our raw materials are sourced from the UK or Europe, this ensures that we keep the carbon footprint of our products as low as possible, with an increasing focus on reducing waste we are endeavouring to reduce our use of plastics, the aim is nil, whether we will achieve this can’t be guaranteed at the moment.
We are now offering finger tape without any plastic packaging, our new pouches for loose chalk (coming on stream 2020) will be compostable and our new 250ml liquid chalk bottle will change from PVC to fully recyclable HDPE (also 2020).