10.12.2021

David Martin Dunhill Mort 1929 - 2021

We have received the sad news that one of the very early pioneers of the European powered access rental industry, David Mort, has died aged 92. He passed away peacefully in Hospital on Tuesday the 7th of December.
The Morts - Tony, Catherine and David - on his 90th birthday

David Mort has been out of the access industry for almost 35 years, and yet his legacy lives on, many of the senior members of the UK powered access industry began their access careers with PTP. Many of its alumni went on to set up their own companies later on.

Born in Port Talbot in 1929, Mort’s first taste of work was on his father’s small holding, rearing poultry and pigs. It was during this time that he first met his wife Dorothy, whilst delivering meat to the local butchers shop – she was the butcher’s daughter.

His first ‘proper job’ was working on the docks at Port Talbot, where he became a stevedore. He married Dorothy in 1952 and four years later the two agreed that he should give up his job at the docks - where a day’s work was never guaranteed - in order to set up their own business making concrete building blocks in a yard at the back of their home. They soon discovered that there was significant demand from local tradesmen to borrow their two second hand concrete mixers - for a fee of course - and that this ‘rental’ activity was more lucrative than making blocks.
A younger David Mort

Their business grew and more mixers and other equipment were added, in order to meet the needs of their customers, which was soon to include The Steel Company of Wales, BP LLandarcy, BP Chemicals and the National Coal Board, along with many others. One of their most lucrative products at this time were portable air compressors, although their place would soon be taken by truck mounted aerial lifts.

In 1972, the Morts moved the business from their original Newbridge road yard in Port Talbot, to a new purpose built depot in nearby Baglan. By this time, they were renting out portable compressors all over the country, setting the scene for later geographic expansion. But 1973 was a key year for them, as they purchased an ex-army Simon IG40 truck mounted lift and hired a young Mike Evans, who would become a driving force behind their powered access business.
Port Talbot Plant’s new premises in 1972

In 1976, a Transport a General Workers Union strike, threatened to kill the business off, but the Morts and their growing team weathered the storm and in the late 1970s the company purchased some of the first JLG 40F and 60S self-propelled boom lifts in the UK along with UpRight Flying Carpet scissor lifts, and persuaded the contractors working on the Ford engine plant being built in Bridgend, Wales, to use self-propelled lifts, both in the construction ongoing updating and maintenance work. The Bridgend contract gave the fledgling part of the business a strong start up boost from which it never looked back.

As new locations were added across the UK - in Milford Haven, Bristol , Southampton, West London, East London, Sheffield, Teesside, Glasgow, not to forget Port Talbot - it became clear that a less parochial name was in order and thus PTP came into being.
By the 1980s PTP was a national company and the powered access market leader

By the early 1980s PTP had a powered access fleet of some 400 units, including booms, scissor lift, truck mounts and underbridge inspection platforms, from Grove, JLG, UpRight and Simon. PTP became preferred suppliers to the Devonport Dockyard and the Royal Navy, as well as the Esso refinery in Fawley and Portsmouth Docks.

In 1987, the couple decided to accept a takeover bid from BET Plant Services, which was acquiring crane and access rental companies across the UK and the USA under the leadership of Bill Boulton, in what was one of the first rental industry ‘consolidation’ waves. Working with Boulton was Ray Ledger who brought PTP and Scott Greenham together. The PTP business was acquired from BET/Rentokil by Loxam in 2000, which added Nationwide Platforms to it in 2017.

David Mort’s son Tony went on to set up AJ Access Platforms in 1990, selling used equipment and then getting back into rental, eventually selling the business to AFI. But that is another story.

When he retired Mort was only 58 and so he set out to pursue his other great interest and hobby, horse racing, where he had a second taste of success. At Royal Ascot in 1979 his horse Varingo won the Coventry Stakes, while Le Soleil finished second in the Bessborough Handicap.

Further success would come with Highclere Racing, from horses such as Petrushca and Motivator, which won the Epsom Derby in 2005. As son Tony puts it: “He loved horse racing more for the intrigue and the characters within it. It was always conspiracy theory with Dad.”
David Mort at Ascot in 2004

Sadly, his wife Dorothy passed away in 2014, he stayed on in the family home, but four year years later decided to move into a retirement home. “He was a hard, but very fair businessman and was very generous particularly when success came along and was prepared to share it with others. This both applied to his business and horse racing life, “ said Tony.

David Mort leaves behind son Tony and daughter Catherine, along with both grandchildren and great grandchildren. His funeral service will be held at the Forest of Dean Crematorium on Saturday, December 18th at 10:30. All friends and colleagues are welcome to join the family to pay their last respects. In lieu of flowers please send donations to the British Heart Foundation.

Comments


There is not much I can add to the great comments that have been made by the previous access specialists.
I am only proud to have joined Port Talbot Plant in the early days and subsequently was able to go on with the growth of powered access in major organisations and companies. David was definitely the leader it what was the growth of powered access in the UK rental market.
Condolancies to Tony .Cathy and the family.
RIP.

John Mather

Dec 13, 2021


I

Dec 11, 2021

paul-richards43
Everyone who knew David will be deeply saddened by his passing, but grateful to have known him and spent time in his company.
The influence of David and the PTP team on the evolution of the European powered access industry in It’s formative years cannot be overestimated, and many will feel a deep sense of gratitude. Purchasing decisions taken at the time benefitted not just PTP as an innovative rental
company, but also manufacturers desperately needing market penetration and real-world feedback to facilitate product development. These decisions were not simply brave on the part of PTP but also astute in PTP’s recognition (likely never admitted to the few manufacturers at that time!) that for continuing success it needed to be ‘two-way traffic’.
A sad day,, but a life to be celebrated, and I am raising a glass to David as I write this.
Iechyd Dda David

Dec 10, 2021

Will
I would certainly agree with the comments previously posted.

David was a remarkable man and with his wife Dorothy they were a formidable duo. They were pioneers of aerial work platforms within the UK. Having known him for forty years plus and selling to PTP a number of Grove Manlift machines, there are a number of tales to tell. The one never to be forgotten, at least not by me, was the sale of a Grove Manlift MZ90 to PTP for use by the Navy at Devonport dockyard. The MZ90 was a monster of a machine not really suited for the European market. Having non retractable axles and being 3m wide it needed special transport and permits to travel between sites. Following an enquiry via Mike Evans, it was arranged to demonstrate this machine onsite at Devonport. The demonstration went well, reaching all the parts needed to be covered. Then a deal was to be done with David and Dorothy. A price and terms were agreed and then came David’s stock closing comment. “We like the machine and you, but you are not the cheapest.” “What do you think Dorothy?”There was a nod of approval, hands were shaken and the deal done. On returning to Oxford I explained the detail of the deal to the MD of Grove, who said “It’s not what I quite expected, but am happy to see the back of it given it’s been in stock for over a year” That machine remained on site for many years and I like to think earned PTP a lot of money.
Rest in peace David.
Bill Green

Dec 10, 2021

Mr Cherrypicker
David Mort , what can you say about this remarkable man?

He , along with his wife, Dorothy, created an amazing business where quality was always at the forefront.

He was brave in his decision making and in his investment strategy.

He believed in delivering a premium service for a premium price and had the foresight to embrace new products to achieve that.

The customer base from the early days was in manufacturing, automotive, energy , petrochemicals and media and all expected a safe and reliable product but recognised that quality and safety had a price tag.

David expected (and demanded) all his depots were organised, clean and tidy and he set high standards. His depot visits were often met with trepidation but there was always a smile when he knew you were trying your best.

There were obviously bumps in the road but those were thought through and overcome
He could put his arm around your shoulders, pat you on the back and kick you up the backside and most of us experienced that from time to time

He was a hard bargainer but left (just ) enough money on the table to be at the head of the queue to ensure the best service and warranty support was offered from equipment manufacturers.

He always knew the right time to buy, remembering manufacturers year ends ( way ahead of Black Friday when it came to big purchases )

He behaved with honesty and integrity at the forefront of all his dealings and his word was his bond.

His charisma was boundless and PTP was a great place to be at, and so many people thrived in that environment and have gone on to create great careers in the industry.

His was so proud of the businesses that Tony created.

David and Dorothy Mort are true legends of the powered access industry.

Sincerest condolences and very best wishes to Tony, Jane, Cath and all the family

RIP
Mike and Val Evans

Dec 10, 2021

Ray Ledger
It is with sadness that I have learnt of David's passing.

I had the privilege of getting to know David and his late wife Dorothy when in 1987 BET acquired PTP. The acquisition process stands out in my memory because of David's approach to getting a deal completed.
Having completed the due diligence we met David and Dorothy at our lawyers in London and as usual both sets of lawyers were adopting the macho style, by refusing to agree on fundamental contractual points including deminimus and warranty limits and time expiry.
This went on until 3am and it was clear that David was extremely frustrated so out of the blue he suggested to me that we should both get some fresh air and have a walk round the streets of the city. With the blessing of Bill Boulton, my boss, off we went and by the time we came back to the meeting 30 minutes later we had both agreed all of the points.
Needless to say both lawyers were not impressed but the deal was completed by 6 am allowing David and Dorothy to go off and enjoy a well deserved champagne breakfast.

I did reflect that our walk had taught me so much about completing acquisitions and life in general by David demonstrating integrity, compromise and above all total common sense. I am glad to reaffirm that such was the quality of PTP as a business that the safeguards in the contract were not needed anyway and David astutely knew that.

I send my sincere condolences to Tony and the family.
RIP David.

Dec 10, 2021
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