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A talent for business that is rarely seen

colleagues. His contribution to many areas of business in the UK is immeasurable and I was privileged to meet him when he became president of Birmingham Chamber. His company was always infectious and you never parted without feeling that you had learned something valuable for business life and life in general. When I interviewed him for this magazine three years


ago, that was certainly the case. We spoke about many issues linked to the state of the economy and focused on how he made such a success of Hill and Smith, of which he was chairman, and Grove Industries Ltd (GIL), which he described as a private equity business with a difference. He had since retired as chairman of Hill and Smith but

GIL continues to flourish. During the interview, David’s true talent came to the fore although his modesty prevented him from claiming all of the credit. He told me that he never had time to read trade magazines except on flights. So he saved them all and was ploughing through a pile on a flight to the US when he spotted an advertisement placed by a company manufacturing temporary steel multi-storey car parks. He immediately recognised its potential in many areas, not least at airports and hospitals.

‘David was an inspiration to all of us and he will be sorely missed’

He acquired an interest in the business and TopDeck Parking was formed by Hill and Smith plc in 2007 to develop the market for modular car parks. He told me: “This was a business idea that was identified

by the product development team. When we launched it in UK market in 2008, the first order we received was for a 600-space valet parking facility at Gatwick Airport.” He also gave a clue to his management style when he said: “We encourage our employees and managers to innovate, identify new products and be prepared to take calculated risks. We do not have a blame culture and if a new idea is not working and we have got some of our assumptions wrong, then we are not afraid to take the cash pain and move on to other areas of opportunity.” David emphasised that he had created a structure

whereby Grove Industries would continue “were I to walk under the proverbial number 9 bus tomorrow”. As the directors of GIL said in a statement: “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 of businesses and seek new investment opportunities.” That will be a tough call without David at the helm but

his directors are determined that the business should continue to flourish. Because, as David once told me: “If I can do it, anyone can.” But you have to recognise that his was a special talent to which few of us can aspire.

• Business loses an industrial hero – see page 10 4 CHAMBERLINK DECEMBER/JANUARY 2011/12

he untimely death of David Grove has left a gap in many people’s lives, not least, of course, with his family and his direct business

CEC Chamber Executive Club Birmingham Chamber of Commerce and Industry CHAMBERLINK

FRONT COVER Deputy editor Sue Cooke behind the wheel of a Land Rover See page 6

EDITOR John Lamb 0121 450 4228

DEPUTY EDITOR Sue Cooke 0121 450 4201

PICTURE EDITOR Tony Bell 0121 450 4220

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Connecting you to opportunity


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