Mark Roberts Steps Down at J & E Hall

J & E Hall has announced the retirement of Managing Director Mark Roberts who stepped down from his role at the end of March 2018, after 42 years of outstanding service to J & E Hall and the industry. His successor is Andrew Bowden, formerly Director of Human Resources and General Affairs.

Mark has made the decision after a long career with one company. “I left school at 16 and I knew I didn’t want to go to university. I wanted something hands on,” he explained. “My father was at J & E Hall and it seemed a natural thing to do. I knew I wanted to work in engineering.”

Mark served a four-year apprenticeship at J & E Hall beginning work at Botley, Southampton. His first refrigeration job was at Warners Holiday Camp, Hayling Island, where he was sent to repair a fridge in the kitchen. After serving his apprenticeship, he worked in various roles at the company including project sales, service management and managing operations for its freezer business, Jackstone. Mark was appointed Managing Director of J & E Hall in 2000 and he says that ‘flexibility’ has been the key to his career progression.

He is a great believer in apprenticeships. J & E Hall is one of the leading advocates of training for young people in the refrigeration industry and runs flourishing apprentice and graduate training schemes. “It’s a great career for young people,” he said. “There’s so much diversity. At J & E Hall we work in many industrial sectors – brewing, food production, pharmaceuticals, petrochemicals and the marine side to name but a few. This industry has a huge issue with skill shortages and we need young blood in the industry.”

“Never in a million years did I expect to reach the top,” he said. “But whenever an opportunity or a challenge came my way I took it on. I’ve moved around a lot with the company and if you want to progress your career you’ve got to be willing to put yourself out.” Working with the J & E Hall executive team, he has driven a strategy that has resulted in the company successfully transforming itself from the challenging times of the closure of the Dartford factory to stabilisation and the revival of business growing internationally. 

J & E Hall has a proud history and has been based in Dartford since 1785. It is famous for its innovation and its worldwide reach, but it is an organisation that retains a paternalistic approach. “Those who enjoy working for J & E Hall stay for a very long time,” added Mark. “We have two employees who have completed 55 years’ service. It’s still a business with a family feel where employees are the key to success and this fits well with the people-centered management philosophy of the Daikin Group, which J & E Hall joined in 2006.”

Mark has travelled the world with J & E Hall and has seen many changes in the refrigeration industry. “The market has altered tremendously,” he explained. “When I started my career every town in the UK seemed to have a brewery, dairy or slaughterhouse but now it’s no longer the case.’’

“There’s been much consolidation in the market with the national players but there’s also been a proliferation of many smaller companies which is good for competition. Types of refrigerants have changed greatly and the technology is different but it is interesting to see that some of the older technology is returning. CO2 is back in fashion and so is Ammonia. We’ve been working with both for a long time.”

Energy efficiency and legislation are driving the industry towards more efficient systems and low GWP refrigerants, which will lead the way to innovative technologies. As an example of this, J & E Hall has developed a low-charge Ammonia chiller. Mark predicts, “There’s also a big opportunity for refrigeration companies to make a difference in helping to feed populations through improved food production, storage and reduction in food waste in the developing world where refrigeration is still in its infancy.” He added, “J & E Hall has a great history but you’ve got to look to the future.”

Mark has been living away from his home in Lincolnshire for 24 years and now it is time for change and less travelling. He and his wife Sharron have two grown up children and two grandchildren. In retirement, he will try his hand at woodworking, photography and maybe golf.

“It’s time for some new ideas at the top of J & E Hall,” he concluded. Mark will not sever his ties with J & E Hall and Daikin entirely and will continue to work as senior advisor.

Andrew Bowden said: “On behalf of the J & E Hall executive team, I would like to thank Mark for his service and dedication to serving our customers and for providing significant leadership for J & E Hall. Peers and colleagues who know Mark admire him for his energy, enthusiasm and passion for J & E Hall. Employees at all levels of the organisational hierarchy have benefited from his valued leadership. He is a true leader who is well respected throughout our industry.”

Yoshihiro Mineno, Senior Executive Officer, Daikin Industries Limited, said:  ‘’Congratulations on your retirement and assignment as the advisor at J & E Hall. Time flies, I cannot believe that it has been more than 10 years since we first met. Thank you for all your efforts in leading the J & E Hall business for such a long period. I am glad I had you in my team. I am sure that you had a tremendously positive impact on your people at J & E Hall with your gentle and hardworking personality. Finally, I wish you all the best in your new role and for J & E Hall's future.’’