The road to today by David Wakefield
It is amazing that our agency has been continuously trading through the past six decades. And we are now celebrating our 60th year in business. Through good and bad times we have managed to continue serving the bathroom industry and made many friends along the way.
It all began with a man called Tom Gregory.
Tom was born in Cardiff in 1910. He volunteered for the in the army when war broke out in 1939 and served in France in 1940 and North Africa in 1941. He was captured at Tobruk in 1942 by German troops and transported to a prisoner of war camp in Dresden. He was released in 1945 and returned to the UK via the American lines.
In 1946 Tom began a career for an electrical company where he learnt his trade as a salesman. Tom resigned in 1959 to forge a new career as a Manufacturers Sales Agent and in 1960 Gregory Agencies was born. This sort of business was very new at the time and Tom was one of the very first pioneers as a sales agent. In the very early years Gregory Agencies represented primarily electrical manufacturers.
Then in 1967 the Six Day Israeli War saw a huge spike in oil prices, resulting in everyone looking for ways to conserve energy, which in the case of the UK meant moving from heating a bath full of water to showering, particularly with the newly developed electric showers beginning to come on stream. Tom obtained the agency for one of the leading manufacturers, the start for Gregory Agencies and all who followed into the bathroom market. My father Tony remembers Tom telling him about how tough it was in the early days with no motorways, no phones and of course no internet, just you and your car ploughing your way around the territory building up the business. For example he used to leave early on a Monday morning in his Morris Traveller (the number one car for salesmen in those days) for Cornwall and arrive back home late on a Friday evening, I wonder how the modern salesman would have coped with that.
Tom retired in 1975 when his son John took over the business. Tony teamed up with John in 1981 and Gary Leigh a couple of years later. During this period the company became more involved in the bathroom market and shower enclosures became a very important part of their business.
Tony left the company in 1989 to venture into other fields of the bathroom industry and during this period the company changed its name to Gregory and Leigh Sales & Marketing.
In 1998 Tony returned and over the next few years things began to evolve again. The company name changed to GL Sales & Marketing Limited, importantly keeping the G for Gregory name in place.
Tony and Gary took over the company from John in 1999 who now lives in Spain. Over the next decade the agency expanded its portfolio with not only electric showers and enclosures but into furniture, radiators, sanitary and brassware.
I joined the company in 2010 to begin my career in the bathroom industry.
Tony retired from the front line of the business in 2013 and now lives in France, which is very handy for the odd holiday and business catch up. Gary retired in 2018 to live out his dream of travelling the world.
I now head the company with a vision of building it into the leading agency in the South West and Wales providing our principals with the very best service and our customers the very best products.
But we all raise a glass to remember Tom Gregory who began all this 60 years ago and his vision to pioneer a new path as a Manufacturers Sales Agent