December 2021 saw the sudden and unexpected passing of Peris Jones, at 85 years of age.
Peris Jones Plant Hire was a highly reputed company in the ‘hire-game’, having been part of the sector for more than 60 years. Peris was also integral in the formation of my company, ACOP Group.
For those who may not know, Peris Jones was my father and we worked closely for over a decade. I was fortunate to have grown up surrounded by various plant machinery; at the tender age of 6 I was taught to operate a skid steer on the family farm. Over the years I accompanied Dad to countless plant shows, exhibitions and sites, and this immersion sparked my interest in ‘levers’, which continues to this day!
I have benefited greatly from Dad’s influence; he had a kind of wisdom bestowed upon him having been in business for over 50 years. He appreciated the importance of training plant operators and the relevance of card schemes early on. It was Peris who first floated the idea of developing a training centre, but as he was occupied with his own business interests, I was happy to take on the mantle.
We had a strong working relationship and as ACOP grew, he seemed very excited by the increased footfall. Being personable, Peris would relish every opportunity to pop into the training centre to discuss current affairs and the state of the industry with staff and trainees alike. In fact, he would often enquire with me afterwards as to the career paths of some of the individuals he’d met at the centre.
Peris had an unassuming demeanour, and those that knew his history were humbled by this.
He started his career as an agricultural contractor in the 1950’s. He went on to purchase his first machine (a Dinkum Digger) in 1960, which enabled him to branch out into other groundworks. In close succession he purchased his first JCB, which paved the way for a long career with the council, forming and maintaining roadways.
As the company grew, so did the range of plant machinery available for hire. Contracts were secured with several opencast coal mines and quarries across South Wales, the largest of which being Maesgwyn, near Glyn-Neath. As a result, Peris Jones himself was with the first to assist following the disaster at Aberfan in 1966.
Over the years Peris worked with a number of large contractors such as George Wimpey, Sir Alfred McAlpine, Murphy, Carillion and the National Coal Board.
His involvement with the rail track work took his machines as far as Oxford; locals would regularly report sightings of Peris Jones’ machines as they travelled along the Paddington line.
Peris Jones Plant Hire employed hundreds of operators over the years and many have expressed gratitude for cementing their careers in the construction industry. Furthermore, many will have learned their skills on some of Peris Jones’ machines whilst sitting a course at ACOP.
Peris had a strong and memorable character and worked hard throughout his life until his last days. I will be forever grateful for the support and advice he gave to me in many areas of my life.
He will be sorely missed.
Donations in the memory of Peris Jones can be made to the Wales Air Ambulance Charity.