Poetic justice and a romantic public require a history of struggle behind successful business enterprises. The implication is that a golden spoon destroys incentive. That this is nonsense was proved by one of the country’s most successful small firms, HILLS (Patents) Ltd. Its founder, Mr Kenneth John Garle, never knew poverty and was never an employee. But was born with an inventive turn of mind, an abundance of energy and, no less important, an eager response to a challenge.
The first challenge came at the age of 19. He had passed through Clifton College and the City and Guilds Engineering College and was ripe, as his mother said, “For a lesson on how hard the world can be”. She persuaded his father to give him £50 to start a business. In those Edwardian days £50 went a long way and young Garle, in partnership with another youth took an office in Regent Street and launched into the still new and exciting motor car trade. The venture prospered and was soon exporting more cars than it sold at home. Its catalogue (a copy still exists) contained names that are still famous, like Rolls Royce, and many that are no more than landmarks in the history of motoring. By 1914 the little company was making an annual profit of £2,000.