Charles Robert Freebody (1875 - 1958)
Charles Freebody was born in 1875 in Edmonton and married in Greenwich in 1903. He joined Herbert & Sons in 1909 and was for many years the manager of 'B' department, the 'sundries' business.
In 1952, A.F. Herbert (Fitz) in his retirement speech said "Mr. Freebody has been with us for 43 years a long time, more than some lifetimes but I will say that, during that time, Mr. Freebody has seldom put a foot wrong. The secret of Mr. Freebody's success has been and you might take note of this that he has always subordinated himself to the customer. The customer is "Number One and he is always honest with them and does not bluff them. As a buyer he has had no thought of personal gain and manufacturers like him because he respects them.
"Mr. Freebody has had a most successful career with us and Mr. Montague of Rushbrookes, a very clever rival who nearly swamped Herberts at one time owing to several setbacks we had, said to me once, "I wish I had a "Freebody. I replied, "We all deserve a bit of luck sometimes and he said, "You have certainly had it in Mr. Freebody.
"At one time Mr. Freebody said to me that Rushbrookes were buying three dozen goods to our three and that we were selling fewer goods than they although at a higher price. But I said that I was quite satisfied about this.
"In latter days Mr. Montague and I became good friends and towards the end I went to see him frequently. He said to me once, "You know, I made a mistake over there. I sold too cheaply. We were selling for 2/- when you were selling for 2/6d., so that you made a nett profit of 6d. It was very gratifying to hear this. One can always hear of people getting less but one doesn't often hear of somebody getting more.
"Mr. Freebody has made a fine reputation for himself. He came to us when business was comparatively small he ended up doing 10 times the volume of the original trade or 20 times by inflation. He was big enough to grow with the business and seldom, if ever, put a foot wrong in purchasing. Customers like him and manufacturers like him. He always gives them a fair deal and never bluffs them. Only one manufacturer ever said he did not like Mr. Freebody. I said that he surprised me and that he was the only one who had ever said that. I told Mr. Freebody about this and next time he was in the district he called on the manufacturer and had that gentleman shaking him by the hand."
He retired aged 77 in January 1952 after 43 years' service, and died in 1958.