Jane was born Philippa Jane Smith Brindle on 19th May, 1961, near Preston. Loving, loyal daughter of James and Chris, older sister to Nick and Clare. Educated at Westholme School for Girls in Blackburn, she went on to gain a degree in Geography from Edge Hill College of Further Education, Ormskirk.
Following college, Jane initially worked for a high street bank. She then moved on to Alfred Marks, the recruitment company, alongside great friend Marie Wilde. From there, Jane embarked on her career in industry and logistics, including stints with Aktrion, CHEP and others, before she was asked to head up the UK arm of LPR, or La PalleteRouge. From zero, Jane led the building of a £50 million organisation in the UK that brought choice to a logistics pallet marketplace that for many years had been something of a monopoly. She did that through perseverance, extremely hard work and a positive zeal and leadership that made success both inevitable and fun. Jane led in other ways too; though she never played on it, she was a woman in a man’s world and in that respect was a trail blazer. Amongst almost 200 online condolence messages, one of the Prova team that worked alongside her noted; “Jane was a powerhouse and an inspiration to all women in business.” That is no small legacy.
She then moved on, in time, to co-found the Packaging Services Europe (PSE) business with Andrew Parkinson, her business partner. He said: “I had been introduced to Jane by a mutual friend and hadn’t known her for that long before we started the business. Right away though, she just got stuck in, cleaning the site, the kit and getting everything ready. From the start, I just knew it was right. She had amazing energy and I felt assured that I had the best business partner. It was all a big investment though and we knew we had to get a network started. So we went from Nuneaton to Leeds, Limerick (Ireland), Venlo (Holland) – and now nearly 100,000 SQFT of additional warehousing space in Nuneaton.”
“It was her laughter, her honesty, her decency that made her so special. She oozed personality and risked everything for the business. But her integrity to customers always came first and she always went the extra mile, such as going to America and back in 34 hours, twice, just to understand the needs of a prospect. Her life was her work and she threw herself into it. I am devastated; she wasn’t just my business partner, she was my best friend.”
Justin Dankenbring was finance director at LPR during Jane’s tenure and said: “I was already at LPR for a couple of months before Jane arrived. Then this blonde bombshell turned up in a whirlwind. Jane’s overriding passion for the job and for people stood out. In the early days, we had two council-rented offices, one upstairs and one downstairs with no connecting phone, so Jane would just shout through a hole in the wall as a communications system! She was an incredible people person. She could walk a 40 acre logistics site and know everyone and would talk with the CEO and the fork lift driver. She transcended all levels and would know everyone and their stories. Jane sold the LPR concept to the biggest senior logistics players, even when not all the pieces of the jigsaw were quite in place. But she never failed to deliver and would leave Lancaster at 2am to be down at a new site to see the first trucks through. Anyone who worked for Jane knew that the customer came first. And her ability to problem solve and think outside of the box were pivotal to the success of the business. She was a very bright individual who focussed on the customer and let everything else follow.
“People wanted to work for her as they knew they would learn. She helped to give people instruction and training and would pass on all her knowledge. She never made one feel silly for coming up with ideas or having an opinion. And she was never bothered if someone knew more than her and always tried to allow people to fulfil their potential. It was fun, energetic and demanding to work with her. Often, you’dhear the laughter before you saw her. But she never needed or wanted to be the centre of attention. She just was. She was so grounded. She’d always be at meetings first, finding stuff out, chatting to the warehouse guys. Everyone was an equal and whether you were a supplier, customer or employee, she knew who you were. And the parties were legendary. You could spend lots of time with Jane and never be bored. She was career-defining for so many of us.”
Nick said of her “Jane was truly remarkable as a sister and a daughter. I cannot add to the amazing things that have been said about her since her passing and I know that everyone will agree with me that only superlatives apply to her. She was the most fun, the most generous of spirit with the most beautiful character and was, I believe, unique in her abilities. Jane would always have a creative and practical solution to any problem I’d put to her. She was devoted to our father James, who is utterly devastated, and was just a wonderful friend to have for myself, our sister Clare and the rest of the family. Whilst we are all deeply saddened to have lost her, we can count ourselves fortunate to have had the force of nature, that Jane clearly was, in our lives.”
Jane married twice, first to Jonathan and later to Harry. She had no children but was an adored aunt to Robbie and Scott, the children of Nick and Aileen, as well as James, son of Clare. Nephew Scott, who saw Jane very much as a mentor, recently joined Jane and Andrew at PSE, while undertaking a degree apprenticeship at Leeds Trinity University, and so her legacy continues at the business.
Her funeral will take place on Tuesday 19th January at St. James Church, Forton, Lancashire. The service will be shared with her numerous friends and colleagues via live streaming.