They say 75% of profits are turned back into the company to improve quality.
Steve says rigid European CE approval standards are “both a curse and a blessing”.
“The cost of gaining CE approval is onerous at $10,000-$15,000 per product,” he says.
“We have to test the smallest and largest sizes and one in the middle, plus each different colour.”
Link International Merlin brand manager Ron Grant also points out that Merlin doesn’t just use high-quality safety materials in the impact areas specified for CE testing, but throughout their garments.
However, James says CE is also a blessing by making it “really difficult to get into this industry”, so it is “flushing out the bad quality and those operating in the black market”.
He says gaining CE approval was easy for them because they were exceeding the full testing process before CE became mandatory last year for manufacturers operating in Europe.
Merlin was registered in 2011 and started trading in 2012.
The name and logo come from “merle” which is French for blackbird.
It is 100% owned by the company’s 200 full-time staff who become shareholders after six months.
Steve’s background was in turning around ailing businesses.
“I just wanted to start a business then get someone to take it over,” he says.
“But once my sons entered the business, we found we had a passion for making good products and not just for business,” he says.
“We don’t cut corners. We wanted to make the best quality product we could with the technology and materials available.
“We’re always improving the product so it is relevant and exceeds customer expectations.”