Bob Hughes, the managing director and co owner of UK equipment distributor CLM is retiring today following a 55 year career, more than 34 years of them working with access equipment and hoists.
Born in 1950 he was raised in Stoke-on-Trent in the English ‘Potteries’, he left school at the age of 16, and immediately began working as an apprentice for James Kent ‘The Old Foley’, developing glazes for pottery ware whilst attending college, during which time he obtained a ‘Health & Safety’ qualification which stood him in good stead throughout his working life. He then moved into management roles for various pottery firms including J&G Meakin, Allied English, Price, and Kensington.
He eventually left the pottery industry, working for various homeware companies such as Status paints & wallpapers, Crown Paints, Handyman House, Rawlplug and WW Fixing. During this time his career progressed moving from sales representative to area manager.
At the start of 1989 he made, what proved to be a pivotal decision and moved to a new industry - construction and building equipment - becoming manager of the Birmingham depot of Scottish sales and rental company Foulis, trading as Imer (UK) selling Imer products. When the next recession began to bite the business ceased trading. This provided Hughes with the idea and opportunity to establish his own business - RDS - which he registered in 1996. The idea behind RDS was to sell diamond blades, while he had hoped to take up golf in his spare time - a plan that has so far never materialised, but RDS became a successful established business.
That same year Hughes contacted Imer with the idea to set up a new company to distribute its products in the UK. Imer liked the idea and Imer Direct was incorporated with Hughes and a colleague - Ian Dyer - owning the business 50/50. A few years later Imer International took a substantial stake in the company, eventually becoming the majority shareholder. In 2000 Paolo Pianigiani joined Imer and became a director of the UK business. He introduced Hughes to another Italian company, hoist and mastclimber manufacturer Maber, which was happy to appoint Hughes as its UK distributor.
In the early days the business was run out of Hughes home, but as the business began to take off, they needed a larger facility and rented a small warehouse in Wolverhampton, with Stuart Hughes - Bob’s eldest son - joining the company to manage the office. In 2009 Imer acquired Iteco self-propelled platforms and the following year took the decision to close Imer Direct. This presented Hughes with the opportunity to set up his own business againmin the form of CLM Construction Supplies which took over the distribution of Imer and Maber products in the UK.
The new team was made up of Bob, Greg Dent, Chris Hughes, Doreen Hughes and Amy Seehra, all of whom still work at CLM. As the business expanded the company began looking for larger premises and in November 2014 found the current premises in Bilston close to the M6 and M54 motorways. See New premises for CLM. In addition to his work Hughes has also participated in the local community and was a very successful Cub and Scout leader in the 1970’s and 80’s, and ran the Wolverhampton marathon in 1984 and 1985 to raise funds for a new scout hut as well as raising funds for the local Bilston football club.
Last year the company won the highly commended - runner up - award In the Black Country Chamber - Family Business of the Year award.
At the age of 73, Bob Hughes is really retiring, kicking off with a cruise of the Norwegian Fjords, followed by a plan to finally take up golf. We will see..
Hughes was given a good send off this afternnon with an party, here are a couple of pictures from the event.
All of us at Vertikal wish him a long and happy retirement.