Comment – An unfitting legacy…

A dog-eared pile of paper is all that remains of the once great Cuddy Group.

On Wednesday last week, I was awoken from my mid-morning slumber at my desk by the arrival of a hefty package that hit the mat at Demolition News Towers like a safe. That package contained a communication from Grant Thornton, the administrator appointed to divvy up what remains of the Cuddy Group.

Together with dozens of others, I had received a copy of this communication – 68 A4 pages, most printed front and back – because DemolitionNews was still owed money by the Cuddy Group as it slipped quietly beneath the surface a few weeks ago.

This then was the last will and testament of once great and much-respected company; a leader in its native Wales; a proving ground for huge numbers of demolition men and women that either stayed or who went on the ply their trade elsewhere within the industry.

Of course, the bitter irony of these administration letters is that they formally announce that most of those that actually provided goods and services well play second fiddle to two organisations that did not. In typical fashion, any money left over from the demise of Cuddy Group will go first to HMRC and then second to the administrator employed to dig over the fresh corpse of the recently deceased company.

The premature demise of the company put into jeopardy the first-ever British Demolition Awards at which Cuddy Group was scheduled to be a main sponsor. The fact that they were unwilling and unable to pay for that sponsorship as agreed rankled at the time, particularly as it was too late to get a replacement sponsor on board. But with the passage of time, my anger and irritation has dissipated. The British Demolition Awards were a huge success, regardless of Cuddy Group’s unforeseen absence. And besides, compared to the many people that lost their jobs and the various suppliers and sub-contractors that have been left to carry the financial can, DemolitionNews got off relatively lightly.

Yet the arrival of the weighty tome from Grant Thornton has given me pause for thought.

Obviously, my first thoughts are with the employees that have found themselves out of work through no fault of their own and – in some instances – after many years of dedication and hard work.
My thoughts are with the suppliers and sub-contractors that weren’t paid and who now face a hefty and even business-threatening deficit.

My thoughts are also with the Cuddy family. As is always the case in this situation, I have heard countless accounts of the reasons for Cuddy Group’s untimely demise. Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned; but a disgruntled and angry former employee would run them a close second. But no-one sets out to run a company into the ground; and regardless of the financial implications of the company’s collapse, I am sure that every member of the Cuddy family will have felt this loss every bit as keenly as those they employed.

Ultimately, however, my thoughts are with the company itself. Cuddy Group and its various divisions accomplished so much over the years. They will have carried out literally hundreds of successful demolition contracts. They will have employed and trained thousands of men and women; men and women that would help nourish the UK demolition gene pool for many years to come. They will have contributed – directly or indirectly – to the financial well-being of immeasurable numbers of local suppliers, sub-contractors and equipment manufacturers and hirers. They helped raise the standards for demolition in their native Wales and beyond.

THAT should be the Cuddy Group legacy.

Yet all that remains is this single document. A once great company reduced to so many insincere words, a collection of clauses and sub-clauses, and sets of meaningless figures. Sixty-eight slightly dog-eared A4 pages, most of them printed front and back.

The workers, the family, the company and the industry deserved better.