Obituary: Sir Owen Aisher

Owen Arthur Aisher, businessman and yachtsman: born Bulford, Wiltshire 28 May 1900; Chairman, Marley Ltd 1945-82 (Life President 1982-93); President, Royal Yachting Association 1970-75; Kt 1981; married 1921 Ann Allingham (died 1989; two sons, two daughters); died Godstone, Surrey 26 September 1993.

OWEN AISHER was well known for urging those who approached him for career advice to 'aim to leave this world a little better than when you came into it'. To say that he accomplished that goal himself is a monumental understatement of the achievements of a man who, despite leaving school at an early age, was the co-founder and driving force behind the creation of Marley, the internationally known building materials company, and its chairman for 37 years, from 1945 to 1982.

In the early 1930s Aisher developed with his father a method of manufacturing concrete roofing tiles, which they produced and sold in the Kent area. Marley Ltd was established in 1934, and roofing tiles remained a core element of the business in the years of diversification and expansion that followed.

During the war, Marley produced parts for the Mulberry Harbours vital to the success of the D- Day landings in Normandy. At the end of hostilities Owen Aisher took over as chairman from his father. He re-established the company's production capacity for roofing tiles and moved into the production of plastics for the building industry. He had visited plastic flooring plants in the US during the war and set up a flooring-tile plant at Harrietsham, near Maidstone, in 1948, eventually making Marley a leader in the new industry. In the 1960s Marley started producing plastic rainwater gutters and piping, plastic plumbing and underground drainage, and aircraft parts.

Aisher was a classic example of an entrepreneur but he hated that term and characteristically described himself as a tile manufacturer. Lack of formal education never hampered his ambitions. He inherited from his father the ability to read widely, urged on with such aphorisms as 'to read much is to learn much', 'to learn much is to know much' and 'knowledge is power'. He augmented his reading with an equal zest for travel and meeting people in their own environment, always with the inbred instinct to learn from what he observed, to cultivate ideas for new products to be transformed into jobs and to profit Marley and its employees.

People were an essential ingredient of Aisher's way of life and he was never known to dine alone. He was adamant that employees were the most important part of any manufacturing company. Unlike the popular image of a successful industrialist, Aisher did not regard himself as a delegator but rather as a leader by example. He preferred to be involved at all levels and liked nothing better than a day out with a salesman to get the real feel of a business; many a customer was surprised by the quality of a Marley salesman's assistant despite their arriving in a very modest car.

Innovation Aisher regarded as an equally important element for success in industry and he frequently smiled in recent years when this quality was publicised as if it was a new discovery.

(Photograph omitted)

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs People

Ashdown Group: HR Manager - West London - £50,000

£40000 - £50000 per annum + bonus: Ashdown Group: HR Manager - West London - £...

Recruitment Genius: Recruitment & HR Administrator

£17000 - £18000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...

Guru Careers: HR Manager / HR Business Partner

£55 - 65k (DOE) + Benefits: Guru Careers: A HR Manager / HR Business Partner i...

Recruitment Genius: Senior HR Assistant

£23000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: The Company's vision is to be t...

Day In a Page

The Greek referendum exposes a gaping hole at the heart of the European Union – its distinct lack of any genuine popular legitimacy

Gaping hole at the heart of the European Union

Treatment of Greece has shown up a lack of genuine legitimacy
Number of young homeless in Britain 'more than three times the official figures'

'Everything changed when I went to the hostel'

Number of young homeless people in Britain is 'more than three times the official figures'
Compton Cricket Club

Compton Cricket Club

Portraits of LA cricketers from notorious suburb to be displayed in London
London now the global money-laundering centre for the drug trade, says crime expert

Wlecome to London, drug money-laundering centre for the world

'Mexico is its heart and London is its head'
The Buddhist temple minutes from Centre Court that helps a winner keep on winning

The Buddhist temple minutes from Centre Court

It helps a winner keep on winning
Is this the future of flying: battery-powered planes made of plastic, and without flight decks?

Is this the future of flying?

Battery-powered planes made of plastic, and without flight decks
Isis are barbarians – but the Caliphate is a dream at the heart of all Muslim traditions

Isis are barbarians

but the Caliphate is an ancient Muslim ideal
The Brink's-Mat curse strikes again: three tons of stolen gold that brought only grief

Curse of Brink's Mat strikes again

Death of John 'Goldfinger' Palmer the latest killing related to 1983 heist
Greece debt crisis: 'The ministers talk to us about miracles' – why Greeks are cynical ahead of the bailout referendum

'The ministers talk to us about miracles'

Why Greeks are cynical ahead of the bailout referendum
Call of the wild: How science is learning to decode the way animals communicate

Call of the wild

How science is learning to decode the way animals communicate
Greece debt crisis: What happened to democracy when it’s a case of 'Vote Yes or else'?

'The economic collapse has happened. What is at risk now is democracy...'

If it doesn’t work in Europe, how is it supposed to work in India or the Middle East, asks Robert Fisk
The science of swearing: What lies behind the use of four-letter words?

The science of swearing

What lies behind the use of four-letter words?
The Real Stories of Migrant Britain: Clive fled from Zimbabwe - now it won't have him back

The Real Stories of Migrant Britain

Clive fled from Zimbabwe - now it won’t have him back
Africa on the menu: Three foodie friends want to popularise dishes from the continent

Africa on the menu

Three foodie friends want to popularise dishes from the hot new continent
Donna Karan is stepping down after 30 years - so who will fill the DKNY creator's boots?

Who will fill Donna Karan's boots?

The designer is stepping down as Chief Designer of DKNY after 30 years. Alexander Fury looks back at the career of 'America's Chanel'