Eric Kirkham Cole was born in Rochford, Essex on the 14th July 1901 and educated at Southend High School for Boys. Shortly after leaving school Eric Cole became interested in learning how to make radios and in 1922 started a small business in Leigh on Sea to manufacture wireless sets as they were then called (this in the days when regular broadcast programs had only just commenced and the radio industry, as we know it was as yet unfounded). A year or two later Eric Cole devised and patented the H.T. eliminator to replace the then expensive and short lived batteries and in 1925 a partnership was formed with Mr. W.S.Verrells; a customer who was very much impressed with the device. The following year a private Company, E. K. Cole Limited, was formed to take over the partnership and the brand name EKCO was launched.

In 1927 a factory was built behind 803-805 London Road - Leigh on Sea to accommodate the business, which was expanding rapidly and between 50 and 100 workers were employed there, These premises too were soon out-grown and in 1930 a new factory in Priory Crescent in Southend was opened, later to be greatly expanded.

By this time, EKCO, ahead as always, had started to use plastic (Bakelite) cabinets for radio receivers. These were imported because they were not then available in this country, but in 1931 Compression-moulding presses were installed at the Southend factory. The Plastics Department developed rapidly and the Company entered the plastics moulding business to cater for outside demands from many trades.

In 1959, the extension of EKCO Plastics injection moulding shop was completed to include the largest injection press in Gt. Britain and history was made with the production for Frigidaire of the first moulded refrigerator liners. EKCO Electronics introduced a transistorised Airborne Weather Radar of only half the weight of previous systems and the 1959 Radio Show saw the introduction of the slimmest ever television - an Ekcovision Portable Model. In late 1959, plans were made to re-locate the Electronics business sector (radar, telecommunications and Nuclear) of Malmesbury to a new factory to be built at Rochford – Essex leaving Malmesbury to concentrate in heating products. By the beginning of 1960, domestic manufacture encompassed mains and portable TV's, Mains and portable radios, radiograms, tape recorders, car radios, electric heaters, thermotube and thermovent heaters, electric blankets, plastic toilet seats, various plastic utensils, plastic bathroom fittings and 'Superbath' baby-baths.