The end of August brought the end of an era at James Robertshaw, as Managing Director Nigel Sharrock decided to hang up his tape measure for the last time. Nigel’s decision to retire ends an association with the industry that goes back over four decades. After a career as an engineer in the merchant navy, family circumstances found Nigel on dry land and steadying the James Robertshaw ship after the death of his father-in-law. At the tender age of 25, with no experience in the trade but with a desire to turn the family business around, Nigel threw himself into the role and the rest, as they say, is history.
The Bolton-based company has continued to develop and adapt its business based on the market. When Nigel took over, the factory was making roller blinds for Woolworths and spring rollers for the trade. Vertical blind manufacturing was introduced, followed by awnings, external blinds and latterly the Eliminate series of guided skylight and vertical drop roller blinds. Under Nigel’s guidance, the business has been involved in a wide range of interesting projects, including an 18.5m wide by 3m projection awning for the 2012 Olympics followed by a 4.5m wide by 30m drop roller blinds for the Winter Olympics in Sochi – in fact, 20 of them. It has been on these sorts of technical challenges where the company’s engineering expertise has come to the fore.
Nigel leaves the business in the very capable hands of his wife Lesley, son Matthew and the Robertshaw’s loyal team, many of whom have been with the company all their working lives. Nigel said: “It’s strange to step down after all this time but we have an exceptional team and I am confident they will take the business to the next level.” There’s an old adage that those who have retired wonder how they found time to go to work – and it seems it this be the case for Nigel, too. “After a couple of years of being dog-less, I have just bought a flat-coated retriever and she will keep me fit and active, as I will miss my walks around the factory. “My beloved Triumph TR4a, which is just 13 years younger than me, needs some TLC and she likes to be driven – something I have been neglecting of late.” “Lesley and I are also looking forward to travelling and enjoying fine food, as we did recently as part of our retirement celebrations – a night in Claridges and dinner at Le Gavroche, meeting Michel Roux into the bargain.”
Lesley added: “Nigel has lived through his fair share of recessions throughout his time at James Robertshaw and always steered the ship safely through turbulent waters. For example, soon after moving to our current premises, a fire at an adjoining building caused smoke damage to much of our stock. “Together with the support and understanding from the team, Nigel has always skilfully managed the problems and come through stronger – although a little greyer each time! His resilience and tenacity, coupled with a belief in doing the right thing, has helped James Robertshaw thrive. “He’s been a kind and considerate boss, treated the team like an extended family and taken a genuine interest in their lives, understanding that the work-life balance is crucial to health and happiness. “This respect and compassion for others in turn has created a very loyal team who are always willing to go the extra mile for the company and our customers.”
A great contributor to the BBSA Nigel has always been determined to put something back into the industry and joined the BBSA’s Managing Committee early in his career in the trade. Sadly, his retirement from James Robertshaw coincides with his retirement from the BBSA after 42 years of loyal service. Nigel held the post of BBSA President twice, has been a Vice President three times, and a Director. Over the last four decades, Nigel has also held many other positions of responsibility within the association, including Chairman and Secretary of the Northern Region and Chairman of the Exhibition Working Group, in the latter role delivering the 2012 and 2015 BBSA exhibitions which saw record attendance by both exhibitors and visitors.
This selfless contribution to the BBSA and the wider industry was acknowledged last year by the presentation of the BBSA’s Lifetime Achievement Award. Nigel said: “I am having a double retirement as I have been involved in the BBSA almost as long as James Robertshaw, and I shall miss the camaraderie and support of my colleagues on the Managing Committee. “The BBSA continues to go from strength to strength and supports the membership and wider industry in so many ways – much of it not publicly recognised. I wish the association and the industry much success. It’s a privilege to have been a part of it.”
From all at James Robertshaw; Thank you, Nigel.