Classic car enthusiast Ken Smith can still leave his rivals standing – at the grand old age of 93.
Mr Smith’s been in the driving seat at Shirley-based builders’ merchants EH Smith for decades, and has no intention of slowing down just yet.
The nonagenarian, who still regularly drives to work in his Bentley or Aston Martin, has been chairman of the £100 million turnover firm since 1959, when he took over at the helm following the death of his father Howard.
This year Mr Smith clocks up an astonishing 75 years’ service with the firm, and received a framed pictorial montage of the group’s string of UK outlets at a special long-service presentation.
The doughty 93-year-old still works five days a week based at the group’s head office in Shirley – and says he has “no regrets” over his marathon career.
“The business has been a large part of my life. I still do five days, although I don’t come in on Saturday mornings any more. I will carry on until they carry me out.
“I still enjoy the job and have never been tempted to retire. I have seen too many people retire who deteriorate very rapidly because they do not occupy themselves.
“You have to keep your mind active. I never get bored. I have an interest in all parts of the business and I know what is going on everywhere. There is sometimes a lot of heartache and hassle involved but I have no regrets. I don’t know anybody of my age who is still working.”
Acocks Green-born Mr Smith, who was awarded a Lifetime Achievement Award in 2008 by Builders Merchant News, learnt the building trade at his father’s knee, travelling with him as a youngster on his Indian motorbike.
He joined the family firm during the 1930s, and in the war worked for the Ministry of Works, dealing with the aftermath of air raids, flying bomb and rocket attacks.
Under his chairmanship, the firm’s turnover has grown from less than £5 million to well over £100 million.
Mr Smith admitted that he is not “computer-literate.” “My secretary, Elizabeth Coleman, who has worked for me for 35 years, does the e-mail for me, but I do have a mobile phone.”