Bell UK stalwart Bob Aldridge announces retirement
- 28 September 2011
- People in the News
Bob Aldridge, Bell UK's longest-standing patron, has announced his retirement at the end of September 2011.
Bob (67) has served with Bell, initially as sales manager employed by Gary Bell, since the company launched its UK offices in the late 1990s.
His relationship with Bell extends much further back than that though, having previously been a director of Bell's former UK dealer Heathfield Haulamatic prior to its acquisition by Bell.
Two years ago, Bob took the role of asset manager in charge of used equipment and overseas sales in order to allow a smooth transition before his departure. During this time, he has managed to return record sales on used equipment.
After 45 years in the plant industry, Bob has become one of the most widely known and well respected figures in the sector.
Neville Paynter, managing director of Bell UK, admitted "he will be a hard act to follow".
Bob said: "I have very mixed feelings about retiring from a company and industry that I have enjoyed so much.
"Bell is the best company I have ever worked for, without a shadow of doubt. Their approach to business, the fun they are to work with and the excitement of working for a South African company is indescribable. I've genuinely enjoyed every minute. More than anything else, I will miss the friends, the contacts and the fantastic way that Bell does business."
Bob said that he wished every one of his colleagues the very best for the future.
"I'm comforted by the fact that I've seen the reins being handed over to some very competent people," he said. "My particular responsibility to move a large bank of used equipment has also gone well, which means this is the right time to move on. As they say, it's better to quit while you're ahead!"
Bob began his career with Compair Holman, a supplier of mining and quarrying equipment in Cornwall, where he undertook a seven-year apprenticeship. During this time, he studied for his degree in engineering.
He then spent two years in London, after which he spent the next eight years working in Nigeria, initially as a service manager, later graduating into plant sales.
Following a spell with Caterpillar, including three years in Zambia, Bob returned once again to the UK to become sales director for Aveling Barford, which was the largest construction equipment company in Europe at the time.
In 1989 he became part of a management buy-out team of rigid truck manufacturer Heathfield, later to become Heathfield Haulamatic.
His vast experience and knowledge of the plant industry has left Bob with numerous abiding memories, though he has particular fondness for two or three defining moments in his career.
"My most memorable deal was signing a multi-million Rand deal while sipping champagne on the top of Table Mountain in South Africa while I was with Aveling Barford.
"In terms of Bell, the real landmark moments were managing to get Bell trucks into the Imerys clay mining operation, and the immense satisfaction of selling the first Bell trucks following the launch of Bell's UK operation to CA Blackwell. Great moments, great memories, and something I shall always be proud of."
Bob's reputation among customers has been second-to-none.
Keith Darch, of plant supplier Denbow International, who was a key part of the deal to introduce Bell ADTs to Imerys in Cornwall, UK, said: "The fact that we went from one truck to 120 trucks was all down to Bob.
"I've known Bob for 20 years and he's a great guy. He is always very straight, very knowledgeable and very helpful. He has always got a solution to any problem or challenge.
"He will be sorely missed in the industry."
Neville Paynter added: "I can't thank Bob enough for his commitment to Bell. He will be an extremely hard act to follow, which is why I'm grateful to him for ensuring a smooth transition of his responsibilities.
"But more than that, Bob has been a great friend, to me and to many others. We will miss him greatly and I wish him the very best in his retirement."
Bob lives in Cornwall with his wife Valerie. He hopes to find some time to enjoy his best-loved hobbies, golf and travel.
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