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Whole industry mourns Dennis Hughes

13 March 2023

Whole industry mourns Dennis Hughes

With the greatest sadness, the blog has to report that Dennis Hughes, Managing Director of Genquip Groundhog, passed away on 7 March aged 61 after a short illness. He was widely known throughout the hire industry and held in the highest regard.

Dennis entered the industry at the age of 16. As he once said, "I was not really a big fan of school. I took the first opportunity to get out and work.” He joined MEJ Welding and Plant Services in Port Talbot in 1977 as a plant fitter and apprentice engineer on a government funded YTS training scheme. The business was owned by the legendary Josh Llewellyn and Jeff Davies, who later went on to form GenSet UK Ltd.

Dennis moved over with the team and progressed quickly to become a service manager, depot manager, regional manager and then an area director before being made Operations Director of GenSet in 1997. 

From his earliest days at MEJ, Dennis had a strong business connection with Paul Ratcliffe of the Neath-based welfare unit and site cabin manufacturer, Groundhog (UK), whose father’s original business Celtic Trailers supplied chassis, axles and trailers for MEJ and GenSet’s generators and welders. 

When Groundhog was looking for a supplier of a 6kVA generator for a new towable unit to serve the emerging welfare sector, the opportunity arose to develop and market a range of mobile site cabins and related products for the hire industry, leading to the creation of Genquip and the Genquip Groundhog brand under a strategic partnership in 1998.

Dennis became Managing Director of Genquip in 2010. He once said that he would never have believed he would become the co-owner and MD of a business that he effectively joined on a government YTS scheme. He was immensely proud of that achievement, which he earned through hard work, talent and a passion for the business.

With his honest, open, self-effacing and always cheerful outlook, which he maintained even in challenging times, Dennis commanded the greatest respect amongst customers and hire industry professionals. And he inspired loyalty and the highest standards amongst his team. 

Dennis was a huge fan of his beloved Swansea City FC. Even his dog Jacko was black and white, the team’s colours. 

Remembering Dennis, Josh Llewellyn, Chairman of Genquip, told me: “We had a number of YTS apprentices and quickly saw that Dennis was the cream of the crop with a spark of energetic talent. He later showed a tremendous flair for the Genquip business and relished the challenge of establishing it and growing it. He was an immensely hard worker.

“Dennis was a man with the highest standards and the strongest values, an honest, warm human being of the deepest integrity. I can’t emphasise too much how proud I am to have known him and worked with him.

“We held a surprise 60th birthday party for Dennis in 2021 attended by more than 200 members of his family, friends, colleagues and industry professionals past and present and it was clear how highly regarded and loved he was. I have received a quite extraordinary number of messages from people expressing their condolences.”

Paul Ratcliffe, owner of Groundhog (UK) said: “Dennis and I go back 46 years. I knew him from when Celtic Trailers was a supplier to MEJ, when I was only a kid myself. I remember the day Dennis started in the workshop and he worked his way up through the business.

“And later, working in the Genquip Groundhog partnership, with Genquip handling sales and Groundhog manufacturing, hardly a week went by when we weren’t in contact. 

“In all those years, I cannot remember a cross word between us. And at the last industry exhibition we attended together, one thing that stood out for me was that every visitor would come up and shake my hand, but they’d put their arms round Dennis. That says a lot about how he was thought of.”

Quite simply, Dennis was one of the most decent and genuine people in this industry, someone you always looked forward to meeting at events and exhibitions. He invariably greeted you with his beaming smile, strong handshake and boyish enthusiasm. 

Two years ago Dennis did a Q&A interview with me for the blog. Answering the question, “If things had been different, what other career might you have had?”, he answered simply, “I would not change anything.”

Sincerest condolences to Dennis’ family and to the Genquip Groundhog team. 

‚óŹ The funeral will be held on Wednesday, 29 March, 1:45pm at Margam Crematorium, Port Talbot SA13 2NR. The wake will be at Blanco's Hotel, Port Talbot. 

 


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