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Versalift

Gary Derek Smith 1954-2017

15. July 2017 | Comments (9)

We have received the tragic news that UK access industry veteran Gary Smith passed away yesterday.

He passed away peacefully following a short illness, with loved ones at his side, he was just 62.

Gary Smith
Gary Smith

Smith is currently chairman and shareholder of Bella Access which he jointly founded in 2010. Having spent most of his working life in the UK access rental industry, he started out with Deborah Services/ PTP almost 40 years ago, joining David Wraith in the mid 1980's to found Nationwide Access Platforms, after building a substantial business the two sold out to David Price in a Cinven supported MBI in 1992. The business become Lavendon which went on to become Europe's largest powered access company.

Gary Smith when MD Nationwide Access
Gary Smith when MD Nationwide Access

After a few year’s respite Smith founded Kimberly Access with Peter Piekarus in 1994, selling the business to an Management Buy In by Ray Ledger and LDI in 2007.

A great many long term members of the UK Access fraternity will have fond memories of Gary Smith from the mid to late 1980s and early 1990s. Not to mention his time at Kimberley. Since then he has tended to stay in the background, helping a younger generation to grow and prosper.

Gary Smith during his time at pre-Lavendon Nationwide Access
Gary Smith during his time at pre-Lavendon Nationwide Access

The industry has lost another of its characters and pioneers in the very appropriate words of his partners - "we have lost a giant today."

UPDATE

The Funeral of Gary Smith will take place on Wednesday, August 2nd at St Mary’s Church, The Rectory, Nantwich, Cheshire CW5 5RQ. At 13:30. followed by a short service at the crematorium for the family only. After the funeral guests will be welcome back to the golf club where there will be drinks and food to celebrate his life.

There are parking facilities in and around Nantwich but it can sometimes be limited. The family is willing to organise some mini buses on to shuttle those attending from the car park of Wychwood Park Golf Club to the church. However in order to do so and to help with catering, they will need to know approximately how many plan to attend.

If you are planning to attend please can you let Jason Dalmas know via email – jason@bellaaccess.com - or by telephone on 07875 529706

If anyone needs to stay over, there are hotel facilities available at the golf club where a discounted rate has been made available of £75.00.
niftylift

Comments

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GeorgeB
19. July 2017 11:31

I am deeply shocked to hear the news of Gary's death. Although I have only know Gary a few years he was a man I greatly admired. My thoughts go out to all his family as this very sad time. George Bailey.

Paul Richards
17. July 2017 21:23

This is sad news, and many access industry "veterans" will have read this with a heavy heart. Having known Gary from the 80's, he was not only one of the pioneers in its formative years, but one of the great characters of the UK powered access industry over decades and, Jason - if it's any consolation - has not been, and will not be forgotten.

barry brady
17. July 2017 18:11

Some people pass too quickly. Gary will continue to shine through all the people that he came into contact with over the years. I wish I had known him better. The thoughts of all at elavation are with Gary's family and friends. Puts all the things we do every day in focus.

Emailed Comment
17. July 2017 17:50

Heartfelt sympathy to Gary's loved ones
Such sad news - first time I met Gary he came to the Kimberly Access depot in Doncaster with a lovely Christmas gift which every staff member received, he then proceeded to quick fire test me on machine specs - scary but so funny - never minced his words - a true access legend :(
Jo Wooton

Roger Wickens
17. July 2017 13:41

A very sad moment to hear about Gary. I too got to know Gary during the Scott Greenham/Deborah Services/BET/SG Aerials and PTP days. When he left and started Nationwide Access Platforms Ltd with David Wraith he called me and offered me a future in the new company to which I accepted in 1989 and am still at Lavendon Group to this day. Gary was a true Gentleman, a Businessman and a great Boss to work for. He knew the industry inside out and had a lot of respect for the people within it. My deepest sympathy to Kim and family.

Malcolm Bowers
17. July 2017 10:48

I was deeply shocked when I saw this sad news this morning.
My memories of Gary go back to his Deborah days when he was based at Barnetby in North Lincolnshire. Pete Pemberton and I were in business as Access Rental in those days and due to Pete's dealings with DSL through Planet Platforms I got to know Gary. I watched with great interest as his career developed. He was one of the early founding fathers of our industry, particularly up here in the north. Having seen some good times and hire rates, like me, he really struggled with the 'lunatic fringe' in the industry and in his Kimberly period would call me regularly in his flat northern tone to complain about some salesman or other who'd just cut him up on price. As two grumpy old northerners we always seemed to have silly pricing stories to tell each other.
He did exceptionally well in his life and had an impressive influence on our industry during its formative years.
On behalf of all of us here at Lifterz I send our condolences and expressions of deep sadness to all his family and the team at Bella.
Malcolm Bowers

Emailed Comment
16. July 2017 12:57

Thank you for what you have put on Vertikal for Gary, we would like to add this little thank you note if that is possible.

His wife Kim and the whole of the family would like to offer their sincere thanks for all the support and kind messages that has been shown for Gary. We are completely devastated by the passing of Gary, he was not only a fantastic business man and mentor, but a great Husband, Father and Grandfather, he will be truly missed. The support shown would truly overwhelm him as he thought he was all but forgotten in the industry but obviously not.

He did truly live and breathe the Access Industry, it was his passion and love.

As soon as we have some more information with regards to funeral arrangements we will let you know, everyone that knew Gary will be welcome to come and say goodbye and celebrate his life with us.

Kind Regards,
Jason Dalmas
Managing Director
Bella Access

Emailed Comment
16. July 2017 01:13

We had the pleasure of working with Gary Smith as a haulage contractor when he owned Kimberly Access,.He always had time for you, and I had many a conversation with him, what he didn't know about access wasn't worth knowing, plus there's not many Company Directors would call you up on a Christmas morning to wish you & your family Merry Christmas, which is what Gary did on a number of Christmas Mornings.

Our condolences go the Gary's family

Barry Haselden.

Ray Ledger
15. July 2017 22:11

I was very sad today to learn of Gary's passing. If I may I would add further detail to his career in access. I first met Gary when As Scott Greenham plc we acquired Deborah Srvices plc in 1985. During our due diligence it was clear that Gary was the sole powered access protagonist in a major scaffolding business. Gary's division was merged with SG access and with his and Rab Patterson's enthusiasm growth followed.In 1987 Scott Greenham was acquired by BET and late 1987 we acquired PTP from David Mort. By merging PTP and SG access market leadership was achieved. I was delighted that I was able to establish a senior team including Gary and led by Mike Evans. It was very evident that Gary was enjoying every minute of being part of the enlarged PTP and he played a major role in developing the northern depots. In 2007 Gary was aware that I was looking to buy a business and called me out of the blue to ask if I wanted to buy Kimberly, the rest as they say is history.
Gary was undoubtedly one of the pioneers of the powered access industry and he possessed an imagination and foresight that was before its time and yes he was a character, try buying a business from him.
I send my deepest sympathy to Kim and the family.

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