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Lane Electronics: Making The Right Connections For 50 Years


Lane Electronics: Making The Right Connections For 50 Years


A private, family owned company that is still around and prospering after 50 years is a rare commodity – even more so in the ever developing environment that is the electronics industry. Proof that such companies do exist however can be found by checking out FC Lane Electronics Ltd, which will celebrate 50 successful years in April 2016.

Older readers may recall 1966, the year that Fred Lane established his company. The highlight of the year in the UK was an England World Cup victory – particularly appropriate for Fred Lane, since his off-duty passion at the time was football and where he was a top flight Sussex referee. In fact in 1969, Fred Lane had the honour to be one of the officials at the FA Cup final between Manchester City and Leicester City. 

Fred Lane (R) was a linesman at Wembley in 1969. Man City won 1 – 0.

Connector specialisation

Fred Lane was by no means new to the electronics industry when he established FC Lane Electronics. At the time he was running a division of a sizeable electronic components business dealing in a variety of device types and selling across the UK as well as to several overseas markets. However, one of the primary reasons why FC Lane has been so successful for so long was Fred Lane’s decision from the outset to specialise in just one type of component - the connector.

This was a good move since connectors have been an essential part of almost every electronic product or system ever manufactured. As the electronics industry rapidly evolved throughout the decades that followed, the connector industry developed newer, more sophisticated, and smaller products to keep pace with and help the industry’s development process. From day one, Fred Lane ensured his company remained at the forefront of interconnection technology.

FC Lane Electronics has long been recognised as a true interconnection specialist, representing many of the industry’s leading connector manufacturers as well as manufacturing and assembling in-house interconnection products. The company is also well known for operating at the high end of the connector industry, working with market-leading customers in sectors which include military, aerospace, geophysical, and communications.

Finding a home

The company’s first premises in 1966 - outbuildings behind a public house - provided few clues to how it would develop into the multi-million pound operation it is today. But, as any good businessman knows, careful planning from day one allows a business to spend valuable resources on the right things – people and product. This is a philosophy that Fred Lane has followed throughout his company’s 50 years which today sees FC Lane Electronics employ 70 people with a finished product and parts inventory level approaching 2.5 million pounds.

The company quickly expanded into premises in the centre of Horsham in a building due for short-term redevelopment, making us feel sure that Fred Lane had an eye for a great deal while looking for a more long-term solution. And not just any solution: cue Slinfold Lodge.

Slinfold Lodge near Horsham in West Sussex

Slinfold Lodge – Combines traditional office environments with modern assembly facilities

The company moved the few miles from Horsham to Slinfold Lodge in the spring of 1970. At the time, the Lodge was an imposing country house set in its own grounds but readily convertible into office premises and, crucially, with the space to build modern assembly and test facilities on site. Slinfold Lodge remains to this day the headquarters for FC Lane Electronics and the connector manufacturer Weald Electronics, which together make up Fred Lane’s Lodge Group.  

It was also around this time that a young lady joined the staff of FC Lane. Rosemary Rice held a number of posts within the company and would eventually manage the internal sales operation, but most importantly she also became Mrs Fred Lane.

Industry leading connector suppliers and quality approvals

Currently, FC Lane Electronics holds many defence, quality and supply chain approvals including ISO 9001, QPL, AS9120, CECC, and SC21 and is a certified assembling distributor for SOURIAU’sMIL-DTL-38999 product ranges.

From day one, FC Lane Electronics has concentrated on connectors designed to be used in high performance applications and the connector manufacturers that the company represented reflected this. The best example was Plessey Connectors Ltd, part of the massive Plessey organisation which at the time was a major force across many sectors of the UK electronics industry, including defence and communications.

Thanks to the excellent relationship that Fred Lane had established with Plessey Connectors and in particular, the company’s Managing Director Jim Edwards, Lane was able to step in when Plessey decided to discontinue the production of its Mark 4 (LMF Range) and Mark 7 (LMG Range) circular connector products. Fred Lane acquired the rights to the product line as well as the drawings and tooling.

As a result, today’s customers can still specify circular connectors that reflect the Plessey connector pedigree from Lane’s sister Lodge Group company, Weald Electronics.

Established by Fred Lane in 1976 with a team of engineers headed by Bryan Marshall and Danny Canning, Weald Electronics has become one of the industry’s leading manufacturers of connectors for military and industrial interconnection applications, mainly specialising in high performance military circular connectors based on MIL-DTL-5015 and MIL-DTL-26482 specifications.

Please be aware that the company still has some legacy stock of hard to get Plessey parts in its catalogue!

Like Plessey Connectors, some of the connector manufacturers that FC Lane Electronics represented in its early days are no longer trading. But many still are and the company continues to enjoy long term relationships with industry leading manufacturers including SOURIAU, ITW McMurdo, Radiall (ex Transradio), and Neutrik.

Over the years, many new franchised suppliers have been added to the company’s ‘line-card’ - HUBER+SUHNER, Positronic, Pancon, Nicomatic, Polamco, AVX, Glenair, and HellermannTyton. To this day, FC Lane Electronics remains the sole distributor for Weald Electronics’ products. This impressive range of suppliers enables the company to operate across many sectors including military, communications, aerospace, entertainment, test and measurement, mining, offshore oil and gas, and most recently motorsport.

Most standard connector types from stock but custom can also be quick

Until the late 1990’s FC Lane, like other connector distributors, supplied mainly standard products with a few ‘specials’ if the customer and the quantities made sense. But times were changing and the demand from customers for connector solutions built for their particular application was on the increase. Not every connector manufacturer was inclined or indeed capable of meeting this need and the demand for, and subsequent reliance on, a ‘value added distributor’ or VAD had begun.

FC Lane, with it’s sister company Weald Electronics, could not have been better placed to satisfy this demand. The basic ingredients for a successful value added distributor is a big stock of parts and the ability to assemble and test. Since Fred Lane was never afraid to invest in parts and finished product and, with the production facilities of Weald Electronics on-site, FC Lane’s value added distribution business took shape and is now a major part of the company’s business model. In fact, FC Lane Electronics has become recognised as one of a small and elite group of connector specialists that can meet almost any electronic interconnection requirement – no matter the application or the quantities needed.

FC Lane Electronics is able to satisfy such a wide applications spread because the company can supply almost any connector type including circular, filtered, RF, coaxial, D connectors, sub-miniature, IDC, PCB connectors, edge connectors, and connectors for rack and panel applications, as well as a huge variety of accessories including backshells and adaptors.

For standard products, the size and scope of the company’s multi-million pound inventory means that FC Lane Electronics can offer next day delivery. For custom products, Lane and Weald’s assembly teams can put together specials in reasonable quantities on very short lead times.

This is particularly important for many of FC Lane’s customers - none more so than in motorsport, where an instant response is the industry norm. The company’s most recent development has been the establishment of a specialist motorsport division. This is based mainly on SOURIAU’s 8STA circular connector ranges that are used throughout all types of motorsport, as well as accessories such as nut plates and gaskets from Weald Electronics and heat shrink protection devices from HellermannTyton.

Successful companies need great people – and the Internet

A constant theme throughout the company’s history has been the quality of the people Fred Lane has employed. From the shop floor to the top floor, FC Lane Electronics has always hired the best talent available and most of the people that work at Slinfold Lodge have been with the company for many years.

Keith Shepherd and Tony Cockman spent decades managing the company’s sales and business development departments. Current Managing Director Simon Hammerton joined FC Lane in 1996, while Sales Director Pat Jarman arrived in 1991. Operations Manager Barry Clough is one of the longest serving members of Lane’s team having joined in 1983.

Since becoming Managing Director in 2009, Simon Hammerton has been keen to follow the example of Fred Lane by recruiting top people and ensuring that FC Lane Electronics continues to give customers what they want, when they want it. Today, this means allowing customers to purchase connector products online.

When Fred Lane established FC Lane Electronics Ltd in 1966, customer contact was either by telephone or in person. With the arrival of firstly fax machines and then the Internet, customer contact has become increasingly electronic.

As well as making sure FC Lane has the right suppliers and stock profiles, the main challenge facing the company 50 years after its beginning is to provide customers with the latest purchasing platform.

Visitors to will see that Simon Hammerton and his team have begun to meet that challenge.

We hope that you found it interesting learning about how far we have come as a company over the last five decades. For further information about our services and products, please call us on +44 (0)1403 790661 or email

If you found this article of interest, you might like to view our related articles:

Understanding The Different Connector Brands That We Stock

Why Buy From Connector Distributor FC Lane Electronics