CEDA kicked off its 2021 conference with a bang, by paying tribute to seven industry luminaries with Legacy Honours.
Last night, the association presented the accolades to outstanding individuals who have played a role in creating a tangible legacy that has made a considerable positive difference, enriched lives, served with dedication, passion and commitment and have cast an indelible history within the UK catering equipment sector.
The awards dinner at the Majestic Hotel in Harrogate began with CEDA’s director general Adam Mason revealing that Marren MD Bob Clifford was the recipient of the first Legacy Honour.
Clifford was the microwave expert’s first salesman and moved up to the MD role in 1995. He enacted his vision to make Marren the go-to specialist for both sales and service. Being a nationwide operator was key to delivering this, and the acquisition of CES Microcare in Scotland made that a reality. Today, Marren has over 100 employees.
Mason detailed: “Within Marren and throughout the industry, Bob is well-known as an unassuming, good-humoured and good-natured gentleman, always happy to share his knowledge, experience and wisdom.”
In the next portion of presentations, former CEDA chair Jack Sharkey added Mechline’s commercial director Peter Galliford and the FEA’s chief executive Keith Warren to the roll of honour.
Galliford began his industry career in the 80s for Garner Merchant in the design and planning department, then briefly working for Hobart before co-founding Mechline in 1991. Sharkey praised: “His visionary perception, calm assured management style and open-door policy have made Peter a well-respected leader throughout Mechline’s long history.
“But Mechline, whilst a huge success story, is only a part of the legacy that Peter has built in the industry. A vault of knowledge and information, Peter became and remains one of the go-to people for advice and guidance. He has given of his time and expertise to many working groups on; hygiene, safety, water savings, food waste and laws and regulations, all of which have spawned guidance documents and codes of practice used widely across the industry.”
Galliford commented: “I’m so very proud and honoured. This wouldn’t be possible without my beautiful, giving wife or my colleagues within Mechline that make it all possible. For all the personal ambition, it’s so important that for all of us we had a great team around us, most especially at home.”
While FEA’s Warren had his first taste of the catering industry when working for Reed Publishing for 18 years on the Catering Update and Catering & Hotelkeeper titles. He became director of what was then CESA in 2001 and over the next two decades he has led the association “to many great achievements and through many challenging times, with drive and commitment,” according to Sharkey, who praised Warren’s work to promote the industry, driving the sector forward and ensuring that its voice is heard in the right corridors.
Warren himself responded: “Thank you all. I wasn’t expecting that. I too have to thank a team, a fantastic team that we build on as trade association directors – for every chairman I’ve had the privilege of serving under and for all those FEA members over the years who’ve contributed their time voluntarily to the work that we seek to do.
“The secretariat can only do what we do, based on all of your input. I also have to thank the FEA team: Jocelyn, who’s our membership and events manager; Adam, who’s our marketing manager, and Sarah-Jane, who underpins it all with administration. It is genuinely a team effort and I would like that to be recognised tonight as well.”
Another former CEDA chair, Peter Kitchin took over hosting duties for the next section of presentations, revealing that FEM co-founders Harry Hogan and Jim Doherty had scooped honours.
The pair had actually met through CEDA Conferences, while Hogan was with Jack Hogan Sales Scotland and the association’s Scotland and north east of England regional chairman, at the same time Doherty was MD of Excel Equipment, based in Cheshire. Together they created FEM in 1993, with the first supply partnership agreement being for Vollrath.
In 2018 the company celebrated 25 years in business and is in the top 10 largest catering equipment companies in the UK. Whilst Doherty retired at the end of 2020, Hogan continues as MD.
Hogan said: “It is a privilege to be nominated and I really appreciate the honour. I would like to say that my wife has been a great supporter over the years. My son Mark also works in the business, he’s a great support too and at some point I will be handing over to him.”
Doherty added: “Thanks to all the CEDA members for this fantastic award and thanks to Harry for being a fantastic business partner for many years. And also thanks to my wife Sahira for putting up with me for so many years and still putting up with me in retirement!”
The final part of the night saw a further past CEDA chair, Iain Munro, hand over the last two honours.
One of these was for Advance Group chairman, Steve Coates, who founded the Dunstable-based company as an agency for servicing Litton and Toshiba microwaves in 1981.
Over the next 40 years, the business has grown to become one of the largest and most successful in the sector and the Advance Group now encompasses importing, distribution, design, installation, project management and maintenance.
Having returned full-time to the business to help stabilise and guide it through the challenges of the last 18 months, Coates recently reverted to his position of chairman.
Collecting his prize, he said: “I’d like to echo Peter and some of the other Legacy Award winners’ sentiments, behind every good man there’s a good woman and in my case that’s absolutely true as well. Felicity has been with me from 1981, in fact she was our first unpaid employee! She had a full time job and it was shift work, so I made the most of it. When she came home at 3 o’clock in the afternoon, she went into the third bedroom and did telesales. And in those days our marketing strategy wasn’t terribly comprehensive – we used to ring up pubs and say ‘do you have a microwave?’ ‘Yes.’ ‘Would you like us to send a nice shiny silver sticker with our name on it?’ ‘Yes.’ And then the service calls came rolling in.”
He added: “I’d like to pay tribute for this award to all the people that have worked for Advance in the past that have gone on to work for other companies in the industry and done really well, and the current team for their continued support and getting us through that dreadful Covid period.”
The presentations culminated with a Legacy Honour for Williams’ sales and marketing director Malcolm Harling, a role he has held since 2000. Prior to that he began his career in the catering equipment sector in 1991 as Falcon’s national sales manager until the time that parent company AFE Group acquired Williams.
Munro praised: “He continues to lead with great skill, energy and drive. Malcolm has always ensured that Williams were dedicated and engaged CEDA partners, but it is his involvement with CESA/FEA that demonstrates his commitment to and passion for the wider industry.”
Harling responded: “Well I didn’t expect that! Thank you very much to everybody. I’ve had a wonderful career in this industry. I started life as a chef and I learned from the bottom up, and worked through a number of trades and companies, and finally with Williams. I feel blessed that I’ve had a lovely career and still will do, hopefully!”