Janet Ruth Herald (1944 – 2021)
Wife, Mother, Friend, Entrepreneur, Educator and Leader
GARRY MILES (1930–2021)
A Tribute to Garry Miles – A True Legend
It is my privilege to act as conduit for so many of my friends and former Valor colleagues in the UK who want to pass on their own tributes to Garry along with their sincere condolences to Barbara, Martin, Paul, Robert, Marilyn and all the Miles family along with the Miles Industries Team with whom we all worked so closely over many years.
The history of Garry’s pioneering to bring efficient living flame domestic gas heating to Canada and North America is legendary and reason enough to celebrate and give thanks for a life so well lived.
Garry’s vision, drive and tenacity were first recognized at Valor when nearly forty years ago he met with the then Chairman Michael Montague (later to become Lord Michael Of Oxford) at the Valor Head Offices in London. The Chairman’s advice to us was that Garry impressed him as having integrity and would be loyal to us – he was proved correct and a substantial new market was over time developed.
The changing culture at Valor after the departure of Michael Montague was a demanding time for all of us, increasing dramatically as the new corporate world tried to impose its culture on Miles Industries. Garry, Barbara, Martin and Paul all stuck to their founding principles of loyalty to the Dealerships – they have been proven correct.
The initiative to take total ownership and responsibility for the Valor brand in North America along with product design and manufacture by Miles Industries in Canada has allowed Garry’s founding principles to flourish into an ever expanding business continuing to provide products of integrity in a world increasingly becoming aware of such needs.
This continuing success has and is providing a livelihood for an increasing number of people and it is another tribute to Garry’s founding principles that so many have given a lifetime to the Company. Miles Industries is also now a contributor of substance to the local and wider Canadian economy.
The following are extracts from tributes of ex Valor UK colleagues who knew Garry. I am sure there will be many more as the sad news percolates.
Paul Eckersley, Managing Director at the time of Garry and Martin’s first visit to Valor Birmingham
It seems like only yesterday that we started our journey with Garry and Martin when they came to Erdington to cajole us into building the first twelve Valorflames to their specifications.
Garry was a pioneer and a very honest man.
Fond and great times.
Graham Leeke, Managing Director
After all the intervening years I firmly remember Miles as being my favorite company to deal with.
Yes there were many challenges at times.
Garry was insightful as to what the Canadian market wanted.
The late night phone calls for us in the UK before all this internet stuff. .
The warmth and integrity and willingness to share their sound business sense all made for a trusting and enjoyable relationship.
Despite the distance between us there were regular visits in both directions and this led to several friendships being established. Garry’s welcome was always warm and generous.
So many memories of BC and gratitude that I met and worked with Garry.
Mike Perkins, Finance Director
Garry saw a market for gas fires in North America very early. So good to see the business continuing when many large companies have entered the market.
David Thompson, Export Director
I have many memories of Garry in particular his sense of fun and his kindness in inviting me to his home on several occasions.
Ian Kingscott, Export Development Engineer
I have fond memories of working with Garry and Martin in the lab on what was to become the first Valor Legend fire. They were a good team and knew exactly what they wanted.
It has been good to see them grow over the past 30 years since I left Valor and watch their range of appliances evolve over time into a market leading range.
Andrew Wilson, Manager North American Design Team
Such sad news.
I have fond memories of Garry. A real Gent and shrewd businessman. He has left an amazing legacy.
My own memories of Garry
Our friendship blossomed as we developed the first high-efficiency insert gas fire which was capable of being retrofitted to homes in BC – the first Legend.
I often stayed with Garry and Barbara and during the days we spent together found that we shared many common values – the importance of family and heritage being one of them. It is testament to the unique blend of Barbara and Garry that they have raised three talented and successful sons who have inherited so many of their values.
Barbara was the only one who could control Garry when he was going off at a tangent or over stressing an issue.
Garry always had a story to tell and a talent for mimicking famous people to keep us entertained. I remember sitting on the deck of their house watching the Northern Lights which I had never seen before when without hesitation or fluffing a line he recited The Cremation Of Sam McGee.
Garry and Barbara were always especially generous in sharing their homes and time which made the long trips far from my home far pleasanter than they could have been.
How often the phone would ring at the end of a working day in the UK and Garry would say “How are you doing Smithy – l have been thinking” and you knew you were in for a long session whilst he let his enthusiasm for a topic or cause pour out.
Garry was a demanding customer but was equally energetic and supportive with his own input.
I shall be ever grateful for the care and friendship of Garry and Barbara which they extended to my wife Pauline and our children Jane and Andrew.
So many cherished memories.
God bless Garry – Rest in peace
As always love and warmest wishes to all.
Martin and family
Gordon Flagler, Cookstoves Canada
Wayne Rourke – My Friend
The first time I met Wayne was in the Spring of 1980. I had been asked to speak at Wayne’s Fisher Stoves dealer meeting. We spent several days together. He was funny and extremely generous. He asked a lot of questions and really listened. Wayne became extremely successful because he paid close attention to trends and sought out the best suppliers.
I knew Wayne as a friend and we also did business together. He built a first-rate organization which is still a model in the industry. He recognized the need for strong International and National Associations and worked hard to build both. His suppliers knew he would ask tough questions but also knew no one would be more loyal or work harder to sell their product.
We shared a love of the water. We went sailing the first time we met, and over the decades we explored both the coast of BC and the Thousand Islands of Ontario. Our last visit was in his beloved Powell River. We saw Humpback Whales and sailed into Desolation Sound. I will never forget that day. I was also honoured to have Wayne visit me twice on his retirement trip across Canada with Zoe and their children. I never saw him happier than on that RV trip from BC to Newfoundland and back.
Wayne, thanks for being my friend… Gordon
Ray Bonar, ICC-RSF
In the early days of ICC we were extremely fortunate to have two people who continuously coached us to become a better manufacturer. One was our old friend Tom Pugh and the other was Wayne. In those days I would speak with Tom most evenings, often for an hour or more. Tom had ESP, he consistently called just as my family sat down for dinner.
Wayne was equally consistent – he’d call at 8am, just as I arrived in the office. That’s 8am St. Jerome time, 5am Vancouver time!
In those days we were a challenging supplier, to say the least. But no matter how badly we screwed up, and there were some doozies over the years, he never raised his voice; he’d calmly point out how our mistake created a problem and coach us on what we needed to do to correct it.
It’s rare that a customer works so hard to improve a supplier’s business, but that was Wayne’s style. He was always making positive suggestions on ways we could improve and his criticisms were always well thought out, and well intended.
Northwest Stoves was our very first Canadian distributor; Wayne took a chance on us when our business was far more promise than reality. His credibility gave us credibility, at a time when we’d earned very little on our own. Wayne’s word alone got us in doors that would have taken us years without him and his quiet support behind the scenes helped us to secure some of the best distributors in the industry.
Wayne built Northwest Stoves into one of the premiere distributors in North America. He did it with honesty, intelligence, hard work and integrity. We are extremely fortunate and grateful for all his years of advice, business and especially, friendship.
Laura Litchfield, HPBAC
Wayne was the first President/Board Member I worked with when I started at HPBAC over 20 years ago. He was always generous with his time and knowledge. I don’t think I would have made it through my first year without his help and guidance. I’m sure I made a nuisance of myself but he was always gracious and patient. Over the years, I enjoyed his candour and wry sense of humour and always tracked him down at Expo for a chat.
During his cross-country retirement trip with his family I was so pleased when the Rourkes stopped by our home in Huntsville to have dinner with me and my family. I remember that Wayne insisted he provide the steaks for dinner and that we had a lot of laughs. It was such a pleasure to get to know his family and my heart goes out to them now.