Marty Giles began his career in the fire sprinkler industry while he was attending Lee-Davis High School.
He worked for his father, the late Roland Giles, who had co-founded Virginia Sprinkler Co. in an office in his home in Ashland in 1958.
At one time, according to his wife, Mr. Giles thought that his elder brother, Roland Giles Jr., would follow their father into the business.
When 19-year-old Roland Jr. died in an auto accident, Martin L. Giles, who was then 17, went on, as planned, to attend Richmond Professional Institute while still working for his father.
After serving in the Vietnam War, he returned to VSC. His father was ill with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis.
In 1972, Mr. Giles purchased all the shares of the company owned by his father and served as president until 2001, when he became chairman.
The company became VSC Fire & Security Inc. in 2009, a national force in the industry, and Mr. Giles served as chairman until his death from cancer Tuesday at 70.
He was entombed Saturday in Greenwood Memorial Gardens in Goochland County following a funeral at the West Chapel of Bennett Funeral Home.
“Marty was a true visionary for the fire protection and security industry,” John C. McDonald, president of VSC Fire & Security Inc., said in a statement. “His leadership and courage, as well as his generosity and compassion, were extraordinary.”
Under his leadership, the business grew from a local company with annual sales of $3 million to one of the nation’s largest fire sprinkler and alarm contractors in the nation. The business now employs more than 800 people and has annual revenue exceeding $100 million, according to a company statement.
“Marty built the company, which now has offices from Maryland to Florida, on a foundation of quality craftsmanship, exceptional customer service and the company values of integrity and reliability. Those founding principles and values continue as the core strengths of VSC Fire & Security Inc.,” McDonald said.
As he increased his business by acquiring other sprinkler companies and adding inspection, in-house pipe fabrication, safety and fire protection capacities, Mr. Giles supported and helped boost the fire protection industry.
He served for 15 years on the American Fire Sprinkler Association board, including a stint as chairman. He was a former president of the Virginia Chapter of AFSA.
In 2010, AFSA honored him with its national Henry S. Parmelee Award, given annually to a person dedicated to the professional advancement of the fire sprinkler industry.
Mr. Giles also had served on community boards, including the Hospital Hospitality House, the Hanover Education Foundation, Prevent Blindness Mid-Atlantic and the Hanover Tavern Foundation.
An avid golfer, he was a longtime member and a former director of the Hermitage Country Club. He had helped with golf tournaments that benefited local charities.
The Danville-area native was drafted into the Army in 1967 and served in South Vietnam during the Tet offensive. He earned a Purple Heart when enemy forces fired on his base.
Survivors include his wife of 36 years, Patricia Hoffler Giles; two sons, Matthew Giles of Richmond and Jeffrey Giles of Henrico; a stepdaughter, Jenny Henkel of Chesterfield; two sisters, Faye McGinley of Hanover and Patsy Fulk of Broadway; and five grandchildren.