The group was initially a vision that emerged in the 1970s and was made possible by just £130 in cash, a second mortgage and £650 from selling a beloved Rolls-Royce. If anyone could turn this capital into the international leader we are now, it was Ray Ball.
A maverick entrepreneur with an eye for opportunity, Ray started out as an electrical apprentice before moving into sales. He was always looking to his next move, which came with his business partner, Ray Stokes. Together, they created Roof Units: a business based in their native West Midlands that would grow to dominate its competition and become a market leader.
Ray always said a leader needed three things: courage, vision and (something he claimed to have in abundance) ignorance. The priorities of his leadership were to create an environment in which people could achieve their best and deciding where the business was going to be tomorrow.
Ray’s success was founded on a strong management team, long-term planning, an unswerving faith in manufacturing and distribution, and taking measured chances that would grow the business’ base. Equally important to Ray was the culture created within his business.
Ray had a talent for seeing the potential in people and helping them reach it. He would do this by gaining his people’s respect, sharing his vision with them and creating a sense of belonging, in everything from fetching lunch for his team, through to inviting staff into his home at Christmas. Ray was a big believer in working hard, putting in the hours to meet deadlines right alongside his staff, and also in taking time off to appreciate life. It is this combination of entrepreneurial drive and zest for life that continues to characterise our group.
Ray valued initiative and flexibility, which remains true for us today. He didn’t hire experts in fans and ventilation – he made them. He’d continually strive to improve his people’s knowledge; helping them develop and, in turn, moulding industry experts who were fulfilled and satisfied in their career. In his own words: “I want people to grow and develop, and enjoy their work. It’s just good business sense to make people want to work for you.”
He knew that to succeed, he had to stay ahead of developments, fully aware that “the only constant in business is change.” He brought in people with potential, retained and developed talent, celebrated the successes of his team and always looked to the horizon to see what was next.
Retirement was never even a consideration for Ray; his lifelong commitment to our group, shared by everyone who worked with him, inspired our continued success. Even though he’s no longer with us, we’re all still committed to sharing in his legacy and his vision of success, international growth and creating a family in which our people belong.
“When I had the first meetings together with Ray and Elta Group, I immediately felt there was a certain spirit that is no longer evident in today’s industry.”
“I want people to grow and develop and enjoy their work… It is just good business sense to make people want to work for you”