Mike Heslop, the new MD of Cumbria-based distributor Lakes Catering Maintenance (LCM), has underlined the firm’s appreciation for the industry’s support in the wake of the tragic loss of former MD Leigh Howard.
Heslop said: “The recent passing of Leigh Howard was a traumatic and desperately sad situation for all who knew Leigh, and felt deeply by the family and close friends.
“His dedication to both his family and his business was clear for everyone to see and the compassion and appreciation of that support demonstrated so movingly at his home before the funeral, a tribute so fitting for the passing of a genuine nice guy.
“To the clients, people, friends and colleagues who have demonstrated their support, admiration, compassion towards the family and LCM over the past few months during a tremendously difficult period for both the business and more importantly the loved ones and true friends left behind, on behalf of the family and LCM, may I express my heartfelt appreciation and thanks.”
Heslop is closely connected to the Howard family, as he is the uncle of Leigh’s wife Elaine. He detailed: “I came in as MD as a temporary measure after the tragic passing of Leigh, just to keep the business ticking until a decision could be made on the best way forward.
“I took on the role as I have a lot of experience in my current Centrex IT businesses, providing nationwide maintenance services. I felt I could help as the business was in essence a maintenance business so I was very familiar with the mechanics of the operation.
“I thought this was such a good business and could see the potential of LCM with the people involved. I decided after discussions with Elaine to invest in LCM through my company Centrex and take on the role of MD permanently, continuing the family tradition.”
At the same time, LCM’s office manager, Sal Martin, stepped up to the role of general manager to help take on some of the workload during and following the transition.
Heslop emphasised he will be continuing Leigh’s legacy, saying: “It became quite clear to me as I delved into the nuts and bolts of LCM that this was a very well-established catering business with a very good reputation built on Leigh’s formidable reputation.
“I have to say it is a very tough act to follow for anyone but a challenge both myself, Sal and the team within LCM takes very seriously and of course the team have shown me their dedication and commitment to continuing Leigh’s legacy with a great deal of pride and loyalty.
“I am the new family member on the block but with the support of our fantastic team, I look forward to maintaining the excellent reputation that has been built up over many years and being part of such a great family company.
Looking to the future, he added: “My focus in developing LCM is based on our people and skills, without whom we do not succeed. Broadening our range of skills will offer a greater scope of service support in the catering industry and improving our supply chain capabilities.
“We will be expanding our areas of operations beyond our present coverage and introducing new complementary services from the Centrex nationwide network of IT maintenance services. And our soon-to-be-opened demo kitchen will demonstrate the latest in catering innovations from manufacturers with tasting and cooking sessions to really help our clients get a feel for what is possible as they consider their requirements.”