Sir Matthew Goodwin 1929 – 2012
October 10, 2012 | Comments (5)
In 1960 Matthew Dean Goodwin was a junior partner at a firm of Glasgow based chartered accountants when a friend in the building industry persuaded him to invest £500 for a half share in a mechanical shovel. The intention was to use it for a few months of the year, and rent it out for the rest.
The seller of the machine - Frank Jamieson - promised to rent it back for the first three months making for a relatively low risk deal.
Recalling that first investment when he was interviewed at the time of his retirement Goodwin said: “The machine was rented out to the Coal Board and 18 months later I decided to check how it was getting on. It was a gloriously sunny day, and there, in the middle of a wood, was Willie Bell the driver, sitting with the engine switched off, reading a paperback. Every three or four hours a lorry would come by, Willie would fill it up with wood, and then return to his reading. Frankly, I went away thinking that this must be the easiest way imaginable to make money - and bought a second machine, then a third, then a fourth.”
Goodwin founded Hewden Plant in 1962 in association with Jamieson who introduced him to what would become the company's leadership style - management by walking about – or rather driving about - in order to keep in touch with staff in various depots something he kept up until he retired.
In 1968 Goodwin and Jamieson merged Hewden with mobile crane rental company Stuart Plant, owned by Ronnie Stuart, to create Hewden Stuart and at the same time took the merged company public.
Jamieson was the first chairman, with Goodwin succeeding him in 1979. In 1993 he officially became non-executive chairman with colleague Sandy Findlay’s appointment as group chief executive. In reality nothing really changed until April 1995 when Goodwin retired as profits soared, thanks to a series of canny investments through the recession of the early 1990s. The company was declared the most successful plant hire company of all time with revenues topping £200 million and climbing fast.
Goodwin, who was knighted in 1989, was always good for a frank and to the point quote and as such was often quoted in the national newspapers on business subjects. He had little time for some of the business theories and fashions that came and went and could sum up and issue clearly and concisely in plain English.
The crane rental industry has truly lost one of its great pioneers.
The funeral will be held next Thursday at 10:45 at Daldowie Crematorium, Broomhouse, Hamilton Road, Uddingston, Glasgow G71 7RU.
All freinds are invited to attend.