It has been over 30 years since the Motor Transport Awards began back in 1986 and throughout these three decades we have marked the achievements of individuals that have made an outstanding contribution to the road transport industry.
This recognition has taken many forms. During the late 1980s and early 1990s it took the shape of the Special Award, before disappearing for a while in the late 1990s. It returned again in the mid-2000s, firstly as the Lifetime Achievement Award, then as the Local Hero Award, before beginning a now uninterrupted 10-year run as the Service to Industry Award presented for the 11th time at the 2016 Awards.
Motor Transport has always sought to recognise the achievements of those that have made a significant contribution to the road transport industry, which is why - at the MT Awards on 6 July 2016 – we also revealed the inaugural inductees to the Motor Transport Hall of Fame. We do this to recognise the efforts and achievements of individuals in ensuring the UK logistics, supply chain and commercial vehicle industry maintains its class-leading standards and traditions.
In opening the doors to the Hall of Fame we immediately inducted all previous winners of the Service to Industry Award (see list below) as well as announcing the 2016 intake – three individuals who have created a lasting legacy for of the highest standards and traditions in the industry.
Ray Grocott, chairman, Grocontinental
A larger than life character typical of his generation of entrepreneurial hauliers, Ray Grocott has served the industry for over 50 years.
Still chairman of Grocontinental, the highly successful distribution firm founded by his father, he has grown and transformed the business from a small regional haulier to a major international organisation.
Grocontinental – Motor Transport’s Haulier of the Year in 2011 – is today one of the country's leading storage and distribution companies with an annual turnover of £28 million.
As the son of the founder of Grocontinental, Ray has been part of the family business since 1950 and was the driving force being the development and continued expansion of the company. A true entrepreneur whose ambitions, innovative marketing and ability to take calculated risks in the early days of Grocontinental paid dividends.
Grocott plays an active role in business development for Grocontinental and maintains strong working links with the company’s continental customers.
He has remained true to the strong working-class values instilled in him by his pioneering mother, Nellie Grocott, who, when left widowed in her 30s, established the business in its early days. His feet have always been firmly planted on the ground.
In spite of his personal drive and ambition, he also has the humility to relate to people. He cares hugely for his staff and the community that his business operates within.
He is tenacious, generous, uncompromising, shrewd and instinctive. He won’t be defeated by bureaucracy and negativity. He is never afraid to speak his mind and will campaign tirelessly for what he thinks is right for his business and his industry.
Grocott has always been extremely proud and passionate about representing the road transport Industry. He is a past chairman of the International Road Haulage Association and is still active in both this organisation and the Transport Association. He is highly respected and is a true ambassador of the industry in both the UK and Europe.
Ray is a true philanthropist and is conscious of his responsibility to his local community. He is very generous and always looking to help people.
He gives generously to local charities and good causes and he is chairman of the local sports and recreation club where he has worked tirelessly to raise funds and leverage government funding.
In 1992 Grocott embarked on a charity mission to help Romanian orphans, co-driving one of the vehicles laden with bedding, clothing and food on the trip.
Michael Williams, former group chief executive, Dawsongroup
Mike Williams had been with the company for over 40 years before retiring due to health reasons in October 2016. Starting as sales development manager in the truck rental side of the business, his obvious talent and enthusiasm saw him rise to become managing director of Dawsonrentals: truck and trailer in 1979. Williams then worked tirelessly with customers, suppliers, service networks and his own team, to take that business to a position of dominance and reputation that was perhaps unusual for an independent, family-owned business in the rental and leasing sector.
As Dawsongroup grew to encompass other key asset groups, such as bus and coach, mechanical handling, vans, temperature control facilities, sweepers and finance, his personal drive and deep understanding of the rental and leasing business saw him elevated in 1993 to the position of group chief executive. Working closely with chairman, Peter Dawson, and his own carefully selected senior team of individual business managing directors, Williams has contributed to and overseen a period of consistent and impressive growth for the group. Noted for an acerbic wit alongside his drive and commitment to the business, Williams has been a formidable player in the industry throughout his working life. Demanding of those around him – both staff and suppliers – he has been a dominant figure on the rental and leasing landscape. That toughness however, has always been tempered by a reputation for fierce personal loyalty to his team, many of whom have now been with him for well over 20 years.
Asked a few months ago to sum up his success, he said: “Taking care of customers, being fair to suppliers and setting the pace for our team – fortunately they all know what’s needed and are very capable of delivering.”
Chris Hanson-Abbott OBE, founder, chairman and chief executive, Brigade
Chris Hanson-Abbott formed Brigade Electronics in 1976, after he was inspired by a strange beeping sound he heard emanating from the rear of a small truck on a street in Tokyo.
This was Hanson-Abbott’s Damascene conversion moment and he set about finding out who made the alarm. The answer was the Yamaguchi Electric Company who, impressed with his youthful energy and enthusiasm, granted him the UK and Europe agency for the alarm. Today the Japanese company remains a major supplier.
In the mid-1970s reversing safety had not been addressed outside of Japan, but it accounted for a quarter of all fatalities at work in the UK at the time. The Health & Safety at Work Act was passed into UK law in 1974: it was clearly the time to address the problem.
With support from the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT), Brigade launched its first reversing alarm at the 1976 Commercial Vehicle show in London. According to Brigade, the reaction was mixed and the show ended without a single sale. To add insult to injury the publicity culminated in the Department for Transport announcing that reversing alarms contravened the Construction & Use Regulations – and were thus illegal. Apparently the reversing alarm was the same as a horn, and not ‘continuous, uniform and strident’. Undeterred, Hanson-Abbott continued, lobbying the government over a period of five years and challenging potential customers’ preconceptions.
Thankfully the government finally saw sense and over the years the legislative environment has evolved enormously. Today, road safety is at the forefront of operators’ minds – be it protecting vulnerable road users and pedestrians or staff and customers – and Hanson-Abbott continues to make devices that saves lives throughout the world.
Turning that world on its head, reversing alarms now face lobbying pressure as the source of environmental noise pollution. Hanson-Abbott addressed this moving into the realm of white sound – an unobtrusive sound that is easier for the listener to identify the direction the noise – and therefore the vehicle – is coming from. With advances in white sound coming in the late 1990’s Hanson-Abbott has transformed the very market he created over the past 20 years, eradicating the traditional alarm sound for a safer technology.
Hanson-Abbott is a passionate speaker and advocate for road safety who has built a world-leader in vehicle-based safety equipment. Even though he is in his 80s he is still very much involved in the business activities of Brigade.
SERVICE TO INDUSTRY WINNERS
2006: John Parry
2007: David Batty
2008: Ken Irlam (Deceased)
2009: Robbie Burns
2010: Dick Denby
2011: Stewart Oades
2012: Nikki King OBE
2013: Peter Carroll
2014: Des Evans OBE
2015: Theo de Pencier
2016: Glyn Davies