IT is an invention people use daily without any thought – but one Dorset company has enjoyed 25 years of success thanks to the cash machine.
TestLink, based in Upton and Blandford, repairs, services and supplies parts for automated teller machines, or ATMs.
It recently saw its best ever year-end results, while its American division recently bought out a competitor there.
The business is owned and managed by Greg Hughes, 52, and Nick Beer, 55, who started it as an IT support company.
“We grew that to about 100 people from the mid-1990s up to 2003,” said Mr Hughes.
“Then, as the price of IT hardware fell hugely, they started to be manufactured in the Far East and the long-term prospect for businesses supporting hardware became much more difficult market.”
One of its major customers was the ATM manufacturer NCR and the business eventually became devoted to the niche area of servicing cash machines.
It supplies everything from gears and bearings to complete units, with customers in around 200 countries. It also provides training for service engineers abroad.
It has a ‘re-manufacturing’ programme, recycling ATMs and installing them for some of the major banks.
The ATM came to Britain in 1967, with On The Buses star Reg Varney taking part in a photo opportunity as its first customer. Today, there are 63,000 machines.
“There’s no real growth in the number but we still love our cash here,” said Mr Hughes.
The ATM has developed considerably, and the next generation are set to be far more sophisticated.
“They’re looking at machines where you can put in a handful of notes and cheques all mixed up together,” said Mr Hughes.
“It will take five to 10 years before the branches are fully up to a much higher level of ATM.”
TestLink recently entered the Far East, while in America, the Cincinnati-based TestLink US recently acquired a competitor, ATM Parts Plus, based in Franklin, Ohio. The US has 419,000 ATMs.
Following the US acquisition, TestLink employs more than 150 people across Europe and the US, holding more than 7.5m US dollars of inventory.
Despite talk of a cashless society, its owners believe demand for its services will continue to grow.
“People talk about cash coming to the end, but there are more bank notes in circulation than ever in history,” said Mr Hughes.
“In the more technically advanced nations, we’re starting to see a little bit of a decline in cash but we’ve got 1.2billion Indian people all starting to get bank accounts and 1.3billion in China. Cash is very strong and will continue to be for the next 30 years.”