Apeks was formed in 1973 in a garage in the north of England by two friends - Ken Smith Ainscough and Eric Partington (Apeks is an amalgamation of their initials). The company began by making lobster hooks and weight belt buckles! By 1976 they had begun to manufacture valves for cylinders and buoyancy jackets and by 1978 they had produced their first Scuba regulator with a side-exhaust known as the Manta 5000ST.
The new Apeks factory in Darwen produced more breathing apparatus from 1983 up to 1988. During this time they became the first company to achieve the BS5750 Quality Management System standard, developed an octopus and moved into making dry suit valves. Later in 1993, their first commercially dry sealed reg came onto the market. When the TX regulator was launched in 1995 they “broke the mould” so to speak, as this became the first regulator to pass the CE standard. The company then moved to their premises in Blackburn, Lancashire where they are still based today.
Regulators are designed and manufactured in the purpose-built factory (which needed to double in size in 1999 to allow for more impressive machinery). Despite being owned by large diving conglomerate Aqua Lung since 1997, the Apeks team still have total control over the design, craftsmanship and manufacturing process of their regulators.
In 2002 the smaller, lighter ATX regulator was launched which was followed in 2006 later by the world’s best-selling XTX. In 2009 the Flight became the lightest regulator in existence. Apeks have continued to innovate since then and their equipment has been used to explore some of the toughest diving environments around the world, including many depth records.
Apeks make more regs for UK divers than any other brand. They consistently top independent performance tests globally which reflects their commitment to investment in R and D. “Technically Inspired” is their justified tagline. All the British Navy's first stages are made by Apeks; they supply emergency services including coast guards, police forces and fire services; and they make 3 regulators that meet the NORSOK accreditation U- 101 - a commercial diving standard. Apeks are also a primary sponsor of the extreme Bjuralven Cave Expeditions in Sweden.
The portfolio of Apeks dive equipment now includes regulators, bladders and harnesses, instruments, watches, bags and accessories. In 2018, they also began a clothing store. See here for the full range on offer at Mike’s.
If you are interested in seeing the factory in action, have a look at the film Birth of a Regulator on their website. See our blog Which Apeks Regulator to Buy for a more detailed explanation of some items in the broad spectrum.