CLIFF JONES, 1934–2004
As we celebrate our 50 years of business in Gisborne, we are reminded of the incredible work of Cliff Jones - DStevens' Joinery Manager from 1970 to 2001. We spoke with Cliff's daughter Robyn Jones about her father and the life he shared with DStevens.
In 1951, Cliff Jones – aged 16 – started his apprenticeship in cabinetmaking under the watchful eye of Frederick John Staines in the Hawkes Bay township of Waipukurau. The term of his apprenticeship was 10,000 hours. It was at this time that Cliff met his future wife – Lesley Pryce of Hastings. Cliff and Lesley had a long engagement during which time they built their first home in Mt Herbert Road. The two married in June 1956 and quickly started a family together.
After a chance meeting with Gisborne Joiner Len Davies in March 1960, Cliff saw an opportunity to set up his own joinery business and Cliff, his wife Lesley and his young family made the move from Waipukurau to Gisborne. Cliff and Lesley bought a deteriorated house in Childers Road for £900 and Cliff quickly set about renovating the home to suit his growing family.
In the early days of running his own joinery business in Gladstone Road, Cliff worked attentively to establish a hardworking, diligent and conscientious work-ethic that would carry him throughout his long career as an expert qualified joiner. After successfully running his own joinery business for 10 years, Cliff went to work at DStevens in 1970 as manager of the joinery workshop at Childers Road.
Robyn Jones, one of Cliff and Lesley’s seven children, remembers going down to the workshop at DStevens to deliver lunch to her dad, “I would go into the joinery workshop amongst all the guys and see dad proud at work with timber – I loved the smell of it.”
With over forty years’ experience in the joinery industry, Cliff mentored and led many people as they set out in a career as a qualified joiner at DStevens. Peter Stevens, Managing Director of DStevens, acknowledges the significant contribution that Cliff made to DStevens. “Cliff was instrumental in the delivery of several major projects with local and regional significance. His award-winning talent was matched by a depth of knowledge in timber and craftsmanship.” He never lost sight of the DStevens objective: to improve lives and businesses through innovative and well-crafted environments.
Cliff drew on the strengths of the knowledge of his peers and colleagues, working closely with Derek Stevens and Len Pearce in the leadership of DStevens. He was a well-respected senior member of the team who believed that the core role of a joiner is to listen, clearly understand and then interpret a client’s objectives - be that in residential, education, healthcare, community or commercial projects. A creed that still stands true today in the minds of all who work at DStevens. Cliff was a brilliant person, and his priorities were very simple. He loved his family above all, he loved DStevens, and he loved the people with whom he worked so closely and achieved so much. After more than four decades in the joinery industry, Cliff Jones retired from the trade in 2001. Mild-mannered and modest, Cliff would be the last to laud himself. “He took pride in anything and everything he did” remembers Robyn.
Alongside his life in joinery, Cliff was a loving Husband, adored Dad and treasured Pop to seven children, 16 grandchildren and 12 great-grandchildren. Cliff was diagnosed with cancer in October 2003 and sadly lost his battle in June 2004 having only enjoyed 3 years of retirement with his wife, Lesley. A couple of years after Cliff passed away, Lesley sold the family home in Childers Road. Their eldest son David developed three units at 286 Kahutia Street, one of which was a new home for Lesley. “Of course these were built by DStevens. We knew that Dad would be resting in peace knowing that Mum was in a nice new unit built by [DStevens]” says Robyn. “When we put her unit on the market and were showing it to the land agents and prospective buyers we could put our hand on our heart and say it was built to top quality workmanship, second to none, by DStevens – and that was who our dad had worked for.”