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Friends, Colleagues Remember Life of Geith’s Brendan English

Thu April 09, 2009 - Southeast Edition
Jennifer Hetrick

Brendan English, 49, former president, Geith Inc., Petersburg, Va., died March 5 at his home in Chesterfield, Va.

Originally from Salterstown, Dunleer, Ireland, Mr. English is credited with establishing Geith’s operations in North America. It was under his influence that Geith grew exponentially in the excavator bucket and attachment markets. His career with Geith started in 1979 when he was hired as a product engineer. By 1997, he had become a co-owner of the company as part of a management buyout and remained so until the acquisition of the company by Ingersoll Rand in 2006. Mr. English stayed on as a consultant until he retired early in 2007.

Friends in the industry were deeply impressed with Mr. English’s intelligence and business savvy and many remarked on his success throughout his career. Universally, however, his friends’ fondest words were for the man as a person and each one, with a wink and a smile, spoke of how he was that rare soul who carried fun and life with him to every occasion, and made it irresistibly contagious.

He spoke, according to Kent Hogeboom, sales representative, Construction Equipment Guide, “with a thick Irish brogue. He was very, very proud of his Irish heritage and visited friends and family in Ireland several times a year. Every year for AED he would rent an Irish pub and have a party for his customers. You had to be personally invited to get in and you had to get there early to see Brendan because everyone wanted to see him. People would get to AED and immediately start asking, “Where’s Brendan’s party?’ Those were the most memorable parties in the industry, no question. Brendan was brilliant and funny and he made that company work.”

And Mr. English started making both the company, and his personality, work as soon as he arrived in the United States from Ireland and met Jim Boniface of Pine Bush Equipment Co. Inc., Pine Bush, N.Y.

“Brendan moved in eight miles from our office and we started doing business with him,” Boniface said. “We remained friends that whole time — twenty-some years. We also had a working relationship until he sold the factory a year or two ago. Brendan was always good for a laugh. He had a very good sense of humor and we just had a good time together. I don’t know where to go from there. This is just a sad, sad time.”

Boniface’s uncle, Thomas Boniface, also of Pine Bush Equipment, also spoke of the relationship that he and his family had with Mr. English.

“I knew Brendan in both a social and business setting, which I have to say, was always entertaining. When it came to business Brendan was the most down-to-earth and fair person in all aspects, whether it was sales promises or warranties and he always followed through with everything. We spent time with him and his wife Margaret at the NASCAR races in Richmond, we were at his youngest daughter’s First Holy Communion and Brendan and Margaret would often come to New York and stay with us or with my nephew Jim. We invited them to our wedding, and they drove right up. The music got started and so did Brendan. I’ve never seen a man dance the way that he could, he was like the human rubber band man and when the music stopped so did he, in whatever pose he was in and he stayed that way until the music stopped. People were amazed, because when the music started again so did Brendan, dancing with everyone and always a smile on his face. It was one of the greatest pleasures I’ve ever had, knowing Brendan as a friend.”

Tim Watters, president, Hoffman Equipment, echoed the sentiments.

“Tough to sum up Brendan in a few words, but one thing for sure, the AED Convention hasn’t been the same since Brendan stopped attending when he sold his company. Back then, immediately upon arriving at AED, Brendan would ’set up shop’ at the most convenient pub in the hotel and he would remain there for pretty much every hour the bar was open for the remainder of the convention. He would leave for a couple of hours on one of the nights to attend his own Geith-sponsored party at the closest Irish pub. As an AED attendee, the first thing I ever did on arrival at the AED hotel was to find out which bar was going to be the Geith bar. I’d stop by there at every opportunity over the next couple of days and Brendan would always be there to share a beer. At some point during the convention, nearly every distributor executive would stop in and tip a few beers with Brendan. And the ’Geith Parties’ at each AED convention were always the highlight of the trip. Completely unauthorized, of course, but the Geith party was generally the best-attended event at an AED. Always at an Irish pub, and always an opportunity to buy everybody and anybody all the beer they could possibly drink. Great times always, mainly because Brendan would be in his finest form, telling jokes, talking up with everybody, flirting with all the women...the guy was in his element in a bar, especially an Irish pub,” Watters continued.

“Another time we visited Ireland to see the Geith factory and spent a couple of days in Dublin. One night, we all went out to various pubs and finally went to bed at two or three, leaving Brendan at the pub. As our bus pulled out at 9:00 the next morning, Brendan posed at the hotel entrance like the Statue of Liberty, holding up a pitcher of beer in lieu of a torch, dressed in the same clothes as the night before, to bid us goodbye from Ireland; he still hadn’t been to bed. He will be missed,” concluded Watters.

Close friend and colleague Keith Lynch spoke for many in the industry when he offered words about both the man and his work.

“I was close to Brendan. He was not just a boss, but also a friend. I covered the northeast selling attachments for Brendan and spent many a long week on the road with him. Everyone loved his crazy ways and we all have many stories to share. Brendan loved the construction industry and most of all he loved the people who worked in the industry. He always had a heart for businesses that fell on hard times and went out of his way to help them, even if those businesses owed him large sums of money. Brendan was the heart and soul of AED and CONDEX. He hosted parties for his customers that had everybody talking for the year to follow. We loved him very much and he will be dearly missed by us all.”

Mr. English is survived by wife Margaret, daughters Nicola Pully and Lindsey English, son-in-law Chris Pully, grandson Liam Pully, brothers Kieran and John and sisters Rosaleen, Claire, Anne, Bernadette and Sara and many, many friends. CEG

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