Brian Falder 1931-2019
Brian Falder, who died on the 19 of September this year, was a man whose entire lifetime of 88 years was interwoven inextricably with the paint industry. An industry that he loved, and one where his company HMG Paints did and continues to do things in his inimitable style.
Brian was born in 1931, and whilst he was the only child of his parents, Herbert and Ellen, he was not the only “new baby” for the Falder family. Just 7 months before, H Marcel Guest Ltd (HMG) had been started by Herbert Falder and the eponymous Mr Guest. Life was not easy for new start paint companies, and by the time of Brian’s birth his father had taken over the struggling and fledgling company in its entirety.
Paint was part of Brian’s life from the outset. His first toy was a home-made train, the boiler of which was a 1-gallon HMG paint tin, and as a little boy during the war he filled and crimped glue tubes by hand in the family home.
Just after the war, aged 14, he had to leave school to work on the factory floor as many of the HMG team were still in the armed forces. He always remembered that part of his life, having to make every scrap of raw material count, and never forgetting the value to the company of those who in his words “actually make the paint.”
His family life was shaped by paint. He met his future wife, Beryl, at a dance and during their very first conversation she told him she worked for Sterling Varnish in Trafford Park. Never one to beat about the bush, Brian said “A girl in the paint industry? … I had better marry you!” It might have been impetuous but it certainly worked! Just before he died, Brian and Beryl celebrated 65 years of happy marriage together.
His friendships too were powered by paint. In the 1950s Brian and James Johnstone studied together at night school. They became the firmest of friends and for a full lifetime loved and respected each other’s company and each other’s businesses. Symbolically it was a management team from Johnstones led by David Mottershead, and the HMG factory in North Wales, that crystallised that friendship in the form of the success that is Little Greene Paint Company.
He passionately believed that a successful paint company can and should be a force for good. Despite the modest size of HMG many of Brian’s actions took in the bigger picture. An iron rule at the company was (and is) that everyone goes home at 5.00pm. He strongly believed that work and life must be in balance. For over 20 years he funded personally a non-contributory pension scheme for his team, so that when they retired HMG employees had “a bit extra”. He planted the first new trees in Collyhurst for over 100 years in the 1960s, believing that even this rather neglected part of Manchester “could look like the Lake District if we all do our bit”.
His two sons were never compelled, but always encouraged, to join the paint business, and it was a source of immense pride to him that both chose to build their careers within the company. Both John and Stephen now have over 40 years at the family business under their belts and building on their father’s values and passion for paint it has continued to flourish.
Brian enjoyed a long and industrious retirement with many of his favourite pastimes and trips having their roots in paint. He shared an apartment in Florida with Jack Bollom of JW Bollom, he travelled the country and the world to holiday or play golf with paintmakers, suppliers and customers. He always had time for people and usually had a joke or anecdote for them from a seemingly endless repertoire that he never forgot.
Typically his last visit to his beloved factory was just a few days before he died. There he inspected a Keenok single roll mill that he had originally bought in 1949. He was as sharp as ever, remembering every detail with complete clarity. The mill, he was told, was “coming home” to HMG to be lovingly restored and placed at the heart of the company he had built and shaped. Once the Keenok is fully restored and in the centre of HMG, John & Stephen are going to have his name engraved upon it along with the entirely appropriate epitaph “si monumentum requiris, circumspice”, If you seek his monument look around you.
Brian was laid to rest on the 4th of October 2019, exactly 89 years to the day that HMG paints was founded. A final touch that he would certainly approved of.