Having always been fascinated by all things military, Roy Kendall joined the Royal Engineers in 1976 at the age of 16. He followed in the military footsteps of his father, who left a protected trade aged 19, leaving his family to go to war for five years, help protect his nation and get out of the London Docks area.
His father left the Royal Army Service Corps after VE, moving back in with family into a house with no electricity, no running water (there was a hand pump in the back garden), just outside Reading. Roy was born into this household and despite the difficult circumstances, his father has never been out of work and owns his own house despite suffering from Asperger’s.
Roy spent time living in apartheid South Africa, before spending three years in Hameln, Germany with 35 Engineer Regiment RE as a combat engineer. He then went on to Denmark and a construction tour in Northern Ireland, where had his first contact as a 19-year-old.
Having been made redundant from the Territorial Army after three years, Roy set up a company called Service Sports (Wetherby) Ltd, becoming involved with UK Special Forces based in Hereford and Poole, as well as the German KSK (the first time the Germans were allowed a special forces unit since 1945) on the concept, design, manufacture and supply of covert and overt carrying systems and clothing.
After 18 months of work alongside some great manufacturers, end users and people in between, they had completed ranges for hot/dry, hot/wet, cold/dry and cold/wet conditions. However, the MoD ‘reverse engineered’ the whole system, which went on to be the design for all tri-services combat clothing.
Despite this setback, Roy’s company has since supplied a variety of people doing some amazing things, including a Mountain Rescue Team that topped out on Everest, and Peter Bray, formerly of the SAS, who kayaked from Canada to Ireland on a totally unsupported solo trip that lasted for three months. As well as selling their own branded range, Roy’s company is also the sole distributor for some big names such as Under Armour Tactical.
Roy Kendall now leads a small but mighty team of 12 consisting of five veterans (four Royal Engineers, one Parachute Regiment) and this year had their best ever 12-month period in terms of sales, turning over £2,000,000 and growing by more than 25%.
He’s now setting up a project called Legacy Leavers, engaging with all 436 councils across the country that have signed up to the Armed Forces Covenant, on a six-person self-build housing project for veterans. The project aims to take six veterans off the street in each council area, give them enough land so they’re able, if they’re willing, to grow their own food and cash crops. They would reside in a safe, low-impact house made from hemp and using solar power.
Having had a difficult upbringing, educated in the sixth-worst ranked school in England and Wales and no business background, Roy Kendall is a veteran success story and continues to help so many fellow former service people whether it be the customers he serves, the people he employs or those he’s looking to help through his Legacy Leavers project. This is what we love to see here at DropZone, and we wish him every success for the future.