May 11, 2017
Twelve months have now passed since the huge loss of our father, Simon Marsh, who was a prime mover in the formation of Tigga Towers in 2009. We hope you don’t mind us indulging in a few reminiscences in memory of a man inspirational to both me, Sam, and my sister, Lizanne.
As the oldest of seven children I was always a ‘daddy’s girl’ and have vivid memories of Dad and his vocational skills. As little girls we were brought up in a nice, village-front shop (The Old Butcher’s Shop) in Bletchingley village. Out back, behind a lovely cobbled courtyard, was Dad’s workshop. Antique restoration was his trade and what must have been the actual butcher’s shop in years gone by, became a display room for pieces that he lovingly devoted hours to.
I would also spend many hours watching as he repaired, sanded, stained and gave new life to quality furniture that may have become a little ‘tired.’ For my father, the job was always more important than any profit. A piece would never leave unless he was totally satisfied. And if ever he wasn’t, he simply did it again. Hang the cost and the time. From being small children, he always instilled in us the old maxim: ‘If a job’s worth doing, it’s worth doing well!’
As time went by and the demand for quality antiques waned on the back of more contemporary design slants, the family turned its collective hand to other things. Mum ran a childrens’ clothes shop from what used to be Dad’s display room and I had ambitions to play tennis to the best level I was capable of.
Dad wasn’t a tennis fan but that didn’t matter and, again, it had to be done properly. I ended up training with national athletes at Crystal Palace and hurting in places I didn’t know I had muscles! While I never ended up troubling Steffi Graf, it did lead to a tennis coaching career and the formation of AdTennis, a business still active today.
I also grew up around dogs, funnily enough. Big ones! The family had a Dobermann and a Bull Mastiff. Anyone who fancied helping themselves to some antiques was in for a fright! Always though, I had a soft spot for cats and, when I flew the nest, they became part of my life rather than a Bull Mastiff’s breakfast! In time, a special love for Maine Coons developed and, as you cat lovers will know, they are not small -- the Bull Mastiffs of the cat world, you might say!
Dad, as always, was supportive and interested. We are a close family and would all see lots of him as, over time, he turned his perfectionism and special manual dexterity to our various houses. It was while witnessing one of my Maine Coons totally trash some excuse for a scratching post one day, that Dad commented, gruffly, “Samantha, there must be better products on the market than that…”
He wasn’t wrong about much, but he was wrong about that!
“Okay,” he said, “I’m going to make you one.” And, sure enough, sometime later, allowing for his perfectionist traits, I became the proud owner of the Rolls Royce of cat towers, complete with oak base, thick, solid pole and enormous bed. Never mind a Maine Coon, it was strong enough to resist an onslaught from the Esso tiger!
Many of my friends were cat lovers too and everyone who saw it, loved it. We began to get requests for copies. That is what sewed the seed of the Tigga Towers business.
“How long did it take you to make that?” I asked my father, while starting to consider the implications of a ‘production run.’
“You don’t want to know…” he smiled. Although some will think that our products are highly priced, quality costs, as with all things. Some quick calculations involving the quality raw materials used allied to the man hours involved, made me realise we’d never be rich!
But, Dad being Dad, if there was to be any compromise in quality, he simply didn’t want to know. Our business model, therefore, was always based around a limited run of quality products rather than anything approaching mass production. In time, we grew to appreciate that this facilitated a more personal touch and greater attention to customer service.
His loss to cancer at the age of 69, was devastating for the entire family. If anything can be uplifting at such a time, it was the words most oft-used by those who paid their respects at his funeral. Words such as ‘loyalty’, ‘strength,’ ‘integrity’ and ‘gentlemanly’ told us that he was viewed by everyone else in exactly the same way that we saw him.
We miss you hugely, Dad, but thank-you so much for the foundations you lovingly laid for us, both personally and professionally. We will do our utmost to carry on in your image.