A sad farewell
We bid a sad farewell to our longest standing employee in March – Dyfed Williams, senior installer, retired after an impressive 32 years with Peninsula.
Dyfed joined when the business was in its infancy having only been established three years earlier by Ken’s father, Barrie at its base in Pwllheli. Joining as a fitter, Dyfed remembers those days well as Peninsula was the first PVC manufacturer and installer in North Wales, but importantly it was also the only company to employ installers rather than using a team of sub-contractors. Dyfed said; “That was initially what attracted me to the company as having their own team of installers meant that the company cared about and had a level of responsibility to every job that others couldn’t match.”
Progress was swift and Barrie soon opened a factory on the industrial estate in Gaerwen, Anglesey which employed four fabricators and Dyfed relocated to be one of the fitters on the island. “I remember those days so well and with fondness despite it being hard work. There were no diggers, so foundations were dug the hard way with a spade, and we used to transport 27 tonnes of concrete for a job by wheelbarrow and then pour it in by hand – back breaking work but we knew no better so it was part and parcel of the job. There was also no scaffolding, which is hard to believe nowadays but again, as we knew no better you used to hang out of the windows with your workmate holding onto your legs and praying that he wouldn’t let go – today’s health and safety would have had a fit!!”
A showroom was soon opened in Gaerwen next to the factory, and the company progressed from selling and installing windows, doors and patios to conservatories which led to Barrie making the bold decision to purchase land and relocate the showroom to its current site in Gaerwen which was later expanded to accommodate the factory. Dyfed takes up the story; “Barrie was an engineer by trade so we used to manufacture and assemble most of the installations in the workshop as well as manufacture the tools we needed, and we only bought in things like rafters which again made us very unique, so we were able to grow and diversify as the market changed. It also meant that the jobs we did were varied and at times very challenging, but there was never a dull moment.” This last comment is more down to the fact that Dyfed was known as the joker in the company and he was always up to light-hearted mischief with his team mates which sometimes spilled over to the customer but fortunately for him it was always taken in the spirit it was intended! “Oh we had some fun in those days and I was often playing a prank on someone and while there are too many to list, my favourite was to fill an old adhesive tube with water and swap it while the beading for the frames was being installed. I got many a work mate with that one when they couldn’t understand why the beading wasn’t sticking!”
Despite the two offices’ locations, there was a real team spirit helped by the regular social elements Barrie organised including Gaerwen v Pwllheli Cricket Matches, Quad Biking and Christmas Parties for all staff and their partners. So when the business outgrew the Pwllheli premises, the decision was made in 1997 for Gaerwen to become the head office, showroom and manufacturing site and many of the Pwllheli workers relocated to Anglesey. “Even when we became one site, it still felt the same business and that community spirit still continues today. In those days your job was for life and it’s been a good one as I’ve grown up with the company and seen the business grow and progress. With new products like the Winter Gardens and all the developments in technology there are exciting times ahead for Ken and the Peninsula team.”
On Dyfed’s retirement Ken said; “It’s been an absolute pleasure and honour working with Dyfed. He taught me so much when I first started – not only the basics and fundamentals of the job but also that it’s important to enjoy your work. Dyfed had the rare skill of being able to combine the light-hearted moments with hard work and he will be sorely missed by all the staff and many of our customers. I wish him a long, happy and healthy retirement as he certainly deserves it, but it’s not good-bye as he knows he’s welcome to call in any time for a coffee.”