Both spoke about the real friendship that was the foundation of their relationship, far beyond his obvious managerial skills and achievements.  It was in those early days with Stahl GB that I got to know Philip as one of his major customers. I relied a great deal on his help and support.

Yet our friendship endured for decades after Philip moved with Stahl to the Netherlands and then to India, despite having few opportunities to meet. He was someone with whom to share a convivial evening, with whom to discuss ideas or problems, to reminisce with.  As it happened, I stayed with Judy and Philip for a few days two months ago, and we did all of those things. And since Philip had remained active and alert – his sudden death was a surprise to all – it seemed like everyone who attended yesterday had similar recent experiences to retell.

It would be true to say that, over the years, Stahl has had some great people among its management be it in Europe, a habit they maintain to this day. One can be sure that the quality and integrity of the staff is a significant part of the reason that they have survived and prospered in a complex part of the leather industry.

Great individuals are not exclusive to Stahl, of course, and the leather industry appears to be good at uncovering them. Since the 1890s we hear of the “Booth Men”, the professional managers who gathered first around George Booth and subsequently his son John, and I am sure this is not unusual.

We are fortunate that, as an industry, we have so many fine characters, taking us from one generation to the next. Systems and managerial formulae are important, but at the end of the day it is the brilliant people Like Philip Rothwell in our tanneries and supply businesses that make the difference. He will be greatly missed.

Dr Mike Redwood

5th December 2017

Follow Dr Mike Redwood on twitter: @michaelredwood

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