Stewart Neill end of July after more than 30 years of service
NGK Spark Plugs (UK) Ltd has announced that Stewart Neill, area manager for Ireland, is retiring after more than thirty years’ service with the company.
Stewart will leave at the end of July after helping establish the ignition and sensor specialist’s brand in Ireland since 1989 when he joined from the Isaac Agnew Group’s Tyre Division, having previously been employed by Michelin who he had joined after leaving school in Ballymena.
When Stewart started as a sales representative, NGK was a relatively new brand in the market-place with P R Reilly its sole NGK distributor in the south and he spent many years driving around garages and motor factors promoting NGK throughout Ireland with many early starts and late nights.
Stewart was appointed area manager for Ireland in 2003 in recognition of all his hard work on behalf of NGK in Ireland where it is now a leading supplier of spark plugs, glow plugs and NTK Lambda and assorted engine management sensors.
During his career he has enjoyed many trips with the company including a visit to Nagoya in Japan, where NGK has its headquarters, to see the production facilities where he was struck by how much emphasis was put on the quality of every single product.
Working at NGK has also given Stewart the opportunity to go on various customer trips including skiing in Italy, golfing in Portugal and Spain, a visit to the Grand Canyon in Arizona, a trip to Nashville and Memphis with PR Reilly, and a tour of the Ferrari factory in Modena.
He is particularly proud of helping set up the annual NGK Northern Ireland Golf Day soon after joining the company to enable staff to get to better know their Northern Ireland customers.
He said: “Right from the first one they have all been a great success.
“The Japanese directors always loved to come over to Northern Ireland, receive a traditional warm welcome, enjoy a round of golf and experience the ‘craic’ with the loyal NGK customers.
“It was one of the favourite days of the year for them, with the next year’s date being one of the first entries in their diary.”
In retirement Stewart plans to continue cycling and golfing to stay fit and healthy and also further pursue his love of travel, having journeyed thousands of miles visiting many countries including the USA, Australia, New Zealand, Fiji, Hawaii, Bali, Thailand and the Caribbean.
He also plans to enjoy driving his recent purchase, a Mazda MX-5 sports car, sparked of course by NGK spark plugs.
Stewart said: “I have met many wonderful people and customers, worked with many great colleagues, visited many marvellous places. Many including former Japanese colleagues will remain friends long after I finish at NGK, a company that became part of my everyday life for 32 years.”
Tim Ward, deputy general manager for key accounts at NGK Spark Plugs (UK) Ltd, said: “Stewart has been integral to the success of NGK in Ireland.
“When I became his line manager ten years ago, he helped educate me about the market-place and we worked together to retain and develop business opportunities with our customers.
“He is not just a colleague but a close friend.”
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