Centenary is marked of Kenwood founder who '˜helped put Havant on the manufacturing map'
TRIBUTES have been paid to the co-founder of an internationally renowned appliance manufacturer on the centenary of his birth.
Kenneth Wood, was born on October 4, 1916, and founded the eponymous Kenwood brand – famous for iconic Chef food mixers – 69 years ago.
With its head office still in Havant, Kenwood’s vast array of kitchen products have become a national institution.
His stepson John said: ‘He was always a hard-working person but he was also very loved as a director. He lived and breathed the company and he loved everybody who worked for him.’
As the grandson of Maynards confectionery founder Charles Riley Maynard, Mr Wood – who died in 1997 – found his flair for business early on.
‘He would sell ice cream at school, he would buy it for a ha’penny and sell it for a penny, but he got caught and got the cane for it,’ added Mr Wood.
‘That was the first sign that was going to be an entrepreneur.’
Brought up in Chelsfield, Kent, Mr Wood set up a television and radio installation and repair company, Dickson and Wood, at the age of 19.
Selling his first business in 1939, he started Woodlau Industries with wartime colleague Roger Laurence in 1947.
Mr Wood changed the name to Kenwood Manufacturing Company Ltd when Laurence left, and within a few years he became one of Britain’s youngest millionaires.
Moving the Kenwood factory to Havant in 1961, the businessman helped shape Havant’s burgeoning industrial sector with an initial workforce of 700 employees.
Cllr Tim Pike from Havant Borough Council said: ‘It put Havant on the national map as a centre of quality manufacturing.
‘Many residents worked in the factory over the years and it provided both employment and social opportunities for their staff.’
Mr Wood raised John, 56, and his two brothers, Steve and Nick, with his wife Pat from the age of three.
‘He was a huge influence and treated me like his own son’, says John.