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50 years and getting stronger

Formed in 1969, after William Lupton had already found success with his innovative mid mounted hedge and verge trimmer (The Lupat) which was born out of a desire to make everyday tasks easier for farmers like his parents.  The first spinning salt distribution gritter was developed just 2 years later. 50 years on, this 2nd generation family run engineering company show no signs of slowing…



Old Econ gritter with a horn blower alongside it

Key moments in our history

From humble beginnings…

Econ make everyday tasks easier

Econ was formed in 1969 from the old Vaux Brewery site in Ripon, after William Lupton had already found success with his innovative mid mounted hedge and verge trimmer (The Lupat) which was born out of a desire to make everyday tasks easier for farmers like his parents.

The first spinning salt distribution gritter was developed and brought to market just 2 years later, a concept that Bill had been mulling over after a series of harsh winters in the 60’s almost brought Britain to its knees. 50 years on, the 2nd generation of Lupton’s keep this principle very much at the heart of their business, developing their range of products and services in line with customer needs and market changes.

The decision was made to launch the gritter at the Institute of Public Cleansing Conference at Torbay in 1972. Although confident in the machines, initially ambitions were modest, hoping to take orders for 10 or a dozen. But 70 orders were received and the rest is history, with 85 per cent of the road salt spreaders in the UK now supplied by Econ.

Lupat verge trimmer - Econ vintage vehicle

The Lupat Verge Trimmer

William Lupton digging the foundations for the new Econ factory in Ripon

Starting work on the Ripon factory

More space needed

With sales of agricultural equipment concentrated in the summer and gritters in the winter, there was work to keep the factory busy throughout the year. The Econ agricultural line in the 1970s included hedge trimmers, flail mowers, muck spreaders, cultivators, harrows, fertiliser spreaders, elevators and pumps. Staff numbers grew from 20 to 75 and a new, purpose-built factory was needed, with work beginning on a site in Boroughbridge Road, Ripon, in 1980.

The Econ hedge cutter was evolving too. The Lupat Verge Trimmer was succeeded by the Econ Hedgemaker, and latterly the Hedgemaster 3.

By the mid-1990s, the highways maintenance division of the company had become the primary focus, with flail cutters produced only in very small numbers, with the final machines built in 1997. The hedge cutter business was sold to McConnel in 2000, which continues to produce the side mounted Econ Hedgemaster MK3.

Takeover fever

Business had been good for Econ Engineering in the 1970s with its complementary ranges of farm machinery and gritters, but when the government put the brake on council spending, orders for gritters took a nosedive. Bill Lupton decided to diversify the Agricultural business with rivals as they sunk into administration Taskers, L&K sprayers, ETC Mill, Listers & Taylor Fosse were all rescued from administration and brought under the Econ umbrella.

To extend his reach within the Highways market, Bill subsequently bought up Atkinsons of Clithero and companies who provided Lighting & Lifts.  All of which served their purpose to provide additional assets and resource to Econ as they built the business.  These businesses were subsequently sold when the market started to decline.

Econ's Ripon factory at night

Ripon factory

SPARGO control system

SPARGO control system

Product development

From the first rear mounted gritter, Econ have continued to develop their winter maintenance range to support the challenges that their customers face and new problems they encounter. As well as a standard smooth flow, the de-icing solutions can now be distributed as low throw (to facilitate urban under car coverage) and pre-wet to add brine to the solution to help it to stick at high speed on motorways.

To facilitate improved distribution control and recording of the route taken and amount of product distributed. Econ have developed a proprietary control system that from a single box, allows routes to be pre-loaded and flow and distribution rates to be set, so vehicles can be run with a single driver with minimal training with evidence of routes taken and product distributed.  During the 1980s, Econ ventured into the Highway Maintenance Market with a range of products to satisfy the growing need for road patching. These include the Hotbox, Roadmender and Multispread.

Service innovation

Meanwhile, Jonathan and Andrew Lupton, Bill’s oldest two sons, had both by now joined Econ and they came up with an alternative solution to the budget cuts. They decided that if customers could no longer afford to buy vehicles up front, they might be able to hire them for a shorter period, the idea took off. Subsequent developments to allow customers to pay during “operating periods” to match their budget phasing made this an attractive proposition for some companies.

With so many vehicles on hire, Econ had to build a network of mobile service engineers to facilitate the regular checks and calibrations their hardworking vehicles require. So as well as a team of Mobile Service Engineers, the company has invested in Service hubs in Ripon and Alloa, Scotland with another due to open in Cardiff, Wales later this year.

Econ service team at the Ripon factory

Service team

Front cover image of the 50th anniversary book

Econ 50th Anniversary Book

In 2019, Econ celebrated their 50th Anniversary, we created a record of our business history with a lot of historical images and anecdotes from our employees.

View book »

Econ Extra


Econ offer a wide range of winter and highway maintenance vehicles that are designed and built to suit your specific needs at our factory in Ripon.

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Contract Hire

Some customers prefer to hire their winter maintenance vehicles from Econ. One fixed fee gives you complete peace of mind as we take care of everything from scheduled maintenance to 24-hour breakdown and repair.

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Service & Spares

Our skilled service engineers can repair or service your Econ vehicles on site, or at one of our regional service hubs in Ripon, Alloa or Cardiff.

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Get in touch

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