Founder of Horsham-based business dies

Bill Laughton

Bill Laughton

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Bill Laughton, the founder of Horsham-based electrical component distributor Aerco, sadly died on Sunday September 8 after a short illness, aged 88.

Mr Laughton formed Aerco (Aviation Electrical and Radio Company) in a small, wooden workshop in Horsham in 1956.

He worked every day until the week before he died, and saw Aerco develop into a major specialist electrical and electronics distributor with an annual turnover in excess of £13m.

Initially installing radio equipment into aircraft, the company rapidly developed its engineering and technical capability and a stock-holding and distribution service. The company is now based at Lawson Hunt Industrial Park, Broadbridge Heath.

Mr Laughton was a pioneer of the UK electronics distribution industry. He was one of a select band of trailblazers that included Fred Lane of FC Lane, George Stuart of Sasco, Alf Pegg of AWP, and Cyril ‘Lofty’ Freeman who was at Richfield Electronics.

All these entrepreneurs formed companies in West Sussex and went on to run successful and long-lived businesses.