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David Grove: Birmingham loses an ‘industrial hero’


“industrial heroes”. David, 63, who was president of the Chamber in 2003, died suddenly at his Warwickshire home. He was regarded as one of the UK’s most successful businessmen and


irmingham Chamber paid tribute to David Grove as one of the region’s

‘He spoke up tirelessly for manufacturing at a time when it was not fashionable to do so’

entrepreneurs and current BCCG president Michael Ward said: “We have lost one of our great industrial heroes. He famously led Hill and Smith to great success both in the UK and globally and his passing is a great loss to UK business.

“He has similarly led all the individual manufacturing businesses that

operate under the banner of Grove Industries to leadership in their sectors. “David’s passing leaves a massive gap. His passion for manufacturing and

his conviction about the rising potential of Midlands manufacturers was infectious. He leaves a legacy of achievement that Midlands manufacturers will benefit from for decades”. Jerry Blackett, chief executive of the Birmingham Chamber Group, said:

“David’s passion was his belief in the potential for local manufacturing businesses to never stop improving their productivity while at the same time improving quality. His watchword was innovation and he was inspirational to Midlands manufacturers. David also believed he should put back as much as possible to the Midlands community. “I remember him telling me a year or so ago that he was a lucky man. His businesses were successful and he felt it only right he should use some of his money to help the region. David had a great affection for the work of Birmingham Chamber and had invested in being a Patron of the Chamber for many years. He wanted nothing in return. “The last time I saw David was at a recent ‘Help for Heroes’ fundraising

dinner. Typically, David had sponsored the drinks reception.” As president of Birmingham Chamber in 2003, David came to national

prominence and was the incumbent High Sheriff of the West Midlands and was awarded the OBE in 2009 in recognition of his services to business. He was also a trustee of Midlands Excellence, a charity formed to

improve the productivity of UK business, and was heavily involved in Help for Heroes, the Birmingham Institute for the Deaf and Marie Curie Cancer Care, in particular its current Big Build Appeal. He spoke up tirelessly for manufacturing at a time when it was not

fashionable to do so. He had the vision to realise that the UK would again appreciate the importance of making things and he made sure that governments understood this.

In his year as Chamber President, David oversaw a number of significant

achievements including promoting unity among Birmingham’s business community and leading on issues like transport. David ran Hill & Smith, a major manufacturer of motorway crash barriers,

for more than 10 years from the late 1990s during which time the company saw its share price rise from about 40p to 356p. His reputation for turning around businesses with his associates attracted Lord Digby Jones to the company two years ago. Lord Jones said: “He had enormous common sense. He always looked to the medium, not the short term. He was a dear friend. If only the West Midlands had 50 David Groves”. When he took office at the Chamber, David returned to his passion for

manufacturing. He said: “You wouldn’t expect me not to have a word to say about manufacturing, as this year I am celebrating 30 years of working in the manufacturing sector. Manufacturing has many difficulties, but despite some reports it is still alive and innovating.” Before his untimely death, David emphasised that he had created a

structure whereby Grove Industries would continue ‘were I to walk under the proverbial number 9 bus tomorrow’. In a statement on the GIL website, the directors – who include Mr Grove’s son Jonathon – said: “David was an inspiration to all of us and he will be sorely missed. In accordance with his wishes, GIL will continue to work with its existing portfolio businesses and seek new investment opportunities.” David is survived by his wife Jane and two sons Jonathon and Simon.

Offices and Awards received by David during his life:

2011: High Sheriff of the West Midlands 2009: OBE for Services to Business 2009: Lifetime Achievement Award from the Institute of Chartered Accountants 2006: Runner up in the Financial Times Entrepreneur of the Year Award 2003: President of the Birmingham Chamber of Commerce & Industry 1996-2002: Member of the CBI Regional Council

Chamber ex-president Gary Allen dies John Pratt hands over the Chamber president’s badge of office to David in 2003 10 CHAMBERLINK DECEMBER/JANUARY 2011/12

Another Birmingham Chamber ex-president, Gary Allen, has also passed away. Mr Allen, 67, who joined IMI plc in 1965 and served as its chief executive and then chairman from 2001 to December 2004, was president of the Chamber from 1991 to 1992 and served on the council from 1983 to 1998. He also chaired the National Exhibition Centre as one of the Chamber’s representatives. He was made a CBE in 1991 and was High Sheriff of the West Midlands in 2002-3.

David in his element promoting and talking about manufacturing

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