Comment – Only the good die young

On Thursday last week, I had the sad duty of reporting that CG Comley – better known to the UK demolition fraternity as Comley Demolition – was to pull down the shutters permanently after 63 years of trading.

It is always sad to hear that a demolition company has gone under. It is doubly sad if that demolition company belongs to people you know, like and admire.

The Comley family and those that work with them are good people. Decent people. Ask anyone. They do not deserve to fall victim to the vagaries of the economy or to issues beyond their control further up the supply chain.

The company had already endured enough with the untimely passing of Richard Comley back in 2013. Richard was one of the most instantly likeable people I have met in more than 30 years in and around the demolition business.

The loss of its figurehead could so easily have spelled the end for the company. But the family rallied together and with the support of their staff managed to keep things going with Richard’s son Toby at the helm as managing director. Toby is unquestionably his own man; but he is cut from the same cloth as his father.

Even the tone of the company statement to announce the voluntary liquidation carried echoes of Richard Comley: Straightforward, honest and even taking the time to wish others well even in this darkest of hours.

I sincerely hope that Toby knows just how proud his father would have been to see him rising through the industry ranks; and handling this sorry turn of events with such dignity and honesty. I can only imagine how difficult it was for Toby, his mother Julia and sister Jen to call a halt to three generations of demolition decency.

Comley Demolition are not the first demolition firm to succumb to economic shifts and company failures further up the construction supply chain. They will not be the last. The dark clouds of recession continue to gather and – in all likelihood – we could lose more before the year is out.

But that does not -and should not – detract from the impact of Comley Demolition’s demise.

When I reported on Richard Comley’s passing back in 2013, I said that I would miss him enormously. I will say the same for the company that he honed and that his son and subsequently polished.

They say that only the good die young. That was true of Richard Comley. Sadly, it is now true of the company he bequeathed and that his family have fought so valiantly to safeguard.