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Sir Neville Bowman-Shaw remembered

Wednesday, 12 Aug 2015 ( #731 ) - London, United Kingdom
News Story
Sir Neville Bowman-Shaw
The UK forklift industry is mourning the loss of Sir Neville Bowman-Shaw who passed away last month, aged  84.

An obituary in The Telegraph  describes how Sir Neville, "the doyen of the British forklift truck industry", built up the Lancer Boss brand.

Bowman-Shaw went into business with his younger brother, Trevor, in 1957, importing Dutch forklifts.

They began designing their own machines, and, in 1959, they moved their operation from London to Leighton Buzzard, where their company, Lancer Boss, grew to be the Bedfordshire town’s major industrial employer – and, in due course, one of the world’s top 10 forklift manufacturers.

Their innovative product range included side-loaders suitable for shifting lengths of timber and pipe, and giant shipping-container handlers, and the Lancer Boss B5 model was, for a time, the world’s best-selling handler of empty containers.

As chairman from 1959 to 1994, Bowman-Shaw was an entrepreneur of vigorous free-market views, and a hard-driving team leader.

The family-owned firm fought back from near-bankruptcy in 1974 and expanded through European acquisitions in the 1980s. But the early-1990s recession brought losses, and disaster struck in 1994 when problems in a German subsidiary forced the whole Lancer Boss group into receivership. It was then acquired for a token sum by another German company, Jungheinrich, in a negotiation which bypassed the Bowman-Shaw brothers – and was closed down by new owners in 2003.

The obituary describes Sir Neville as a keen shooting man, and an avid collector of vintage tractors: the first, a wartime Allis-Chalmers model, was a birthday present to his wife in 1964, and, at its peak, the collection numbered 150 machines.

He was knighted for services to exports in 1984; he was High Sheriff of Bedfordshire in 1987-88, and became a deputy lieutenant of the county in 2002.

He was also a member of the Design Council and the British Overseas Trade Board.

Sir Neville Bowman-Shaw is survived by his wife, two sons and a daughter.

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