Trib­utes to man who built con­struc­tion suc­cess story

Gloucestershire Echo - - BUSINESS -

THE man who turned Barn­wood Shop­fit­ting into a na­tional suc­cess story has died. Chris Gabb passed away on July 19, less than a month af­ter his 70th birth­day, fol­low­ing a lengthy bat­tle with can­cer.

He is sur­vived by wife Sue, with whom he re­cently cel­e­brated a golden wedding an­niver­sary, chil­dren Angie, Niki, Sal­lie, Anton and four grand­chil­dren.

A for­mer pupil at Cen­tral Tech­nol­ogy Col­lege in Glouces­ter, he worked as an ap­pren­tice joiner for Smith and Choyce be­fore join­ing Barn­wood in 1971 as as­sis­tant join­ery man­ager.

He be­came man­ag­ing di­rec­tor of Barn­wood Shop­fit­ting in 1983, a po­si­tion he held for more than 30 years be­fore be­com­ing group man­ag­ing di­rec­tor in 2006.

Chris re­tired af­ter 43 years of con­tin­u­ous ser­vice in 2014, but re­mained as a consultant with the com­pany he had done so much to help es­tab­lish.

Dur­ing his 48 years with the com­pany, he formed firm friend­ships with col­leagues and clients, many of whom have been keen to pay trib­ute to a “gen­uinely nice man.”

Gra­ham How­ell was at Barn­wood Builders when Chris joined and watched as his col­league and friend helped trans­form the com­pany.

Mr How­ell said: “Chris joined on the shop­fit­ting side, when we were only just go­ing into that line of busi­ness.

“With­out him, Barn­wood Shop­fit­ting wouldn’t be what it is to­day. He had sup­port, but he was the driver and made things hap­pen.

“We have worked for many well­known high street names across the UK such as WH Smith, Na­tion­wide and Voda­fone to name a few, all be­cause of Chris’ ef­forts to build that side of the busi­ness.”

Away from work, Chris was a prom­i­nent pro­moter of Glouces­ter and a keen sports­man.

He loved rugby and was an ar­dent Glouces­ter Rugby sup­porter and con­tin­ued the fam­ily con­nec­tion with Glouces­ter City Foot­ball Club.

He was also a mem­ber and for­mer pres­i­dent of Glouces­ter Sev­ern Ro­tary Club, where he formed many firm friend­ships and was hon­oured with a Paul Har­ris Fel­low­ship for his ser­vice to Ro­tary.

Ar­chi­tect Jeff Roberts knew Chris from his early days at Barn­wood.

Both Glouces­ter boys they be­came close friends as a re­sult of their com­mon pas­sion for rugby and their like

minded ap­proach to busi­ness and life.

He said: “Chris had a mas­sive cir­cle of friends and busi­ness ac­quain­tances who re­spected his judge­ment and loved the great man he was.

“Si­mon Ford of All-stone said to me af­ter his pass­ing that we did not de­serve to breathe the same air as him. That re­ally says it all.

“Chris started as an ap­pren­tice and through his in­nate skills and sheer hard work be­came the MD of Barn­wood Group.”

He con­tin­ued: “He was also a coun­cil mem­ber, trea­surer and pres­i­dent of the Na­tional As­so­ci­a­tion of Shop­fit­ters, who have re­leased their own trib­ute to Chris.

“He helped a lot of peo­ple along the way, pro­vid­ing work for small lo­cal busi­nesses at cru­cial times and be­ing there for fam­ily and friends in their hours of need.

“He was very, very spe­cial, my definition for a truly great, great man.”

That view was echoed by Peter Evans, fi­nance di­rec­tor of the Barn­wood Group.

He said: “Chris was a fair, straightta­lk­ing and well-re­spected man who had a real knack for form­ing re­la­tion­ships with peo­ple and just be­ing nat­u­ral with them.

“He was smart, hum­ble and clients loved him.

“He was pas­sion­ate about the city of Glouces­ter and about the Barn­wood Group and was the hard­est-work­ing man I have ever met.”

Si­mon Carey, who suc­ceeded Chris as man­ag­ing di­rec­tor of the Barn­wood Group in 2014, said his legacy would live on at the firm.

He said: “The ethos of the Barn­wood Group, es­tab­lished by its founders, was re­in­forced by Chris. We will con­tinue to re­spect and hon­our this legacy,.

“He had a great eye for de­tail, mas­sive amounts of in­tegrity and great hu­mil­ity.”

“But most of all, he will be re­mem­bered for the sheer amount of hard work he gave to the firm and be­ing a gen­uinely nice man.”

» A ser­vice to cel­e­brate the life of Chris Gabb will be held at Glouces­ter Cathe­dral on Thursday, Au­gust 29 at 3pm. A pri­vate cre­ma­tion will be held by the fam­ily.

Do­na­tions in lieu of flow­ers are in­vited to just­giv­­ing/gabb­fam­ily or to the De­part­ment of Crit­i­cal Care at Glouces­ter­shire Royal Hospi­tal.

Do­na­tions and cheques ad­dressed to Glouces­ter­shire In­ten­sive Care may be sent c/o SC & BS Cocks, 59 Huc­cle­cote Road, Huc­cle­cote, Glouces­ter, GL3 3TL.

He was very, very spe­cial, my definition for a truly great, great man

Jeff Roberts

Chris Gabb, right, with his suc­ces­sor as man­ag­ing di­rec­tor Si­mon Carey

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