Steve – fondly known as ‘Padders’ by many colleagues and friends in the industry – will leave the company on April 8, bringing an end to what he says was “the best job in the industry.”
The 66-year-old was due to retire last May but extended his stay to help the leading supplier of original equipment spark plugs, glow plugs and NTK Lambda and other engine management sensors, deal with the ramifications of the coronavirus pandemic.
He joined NGK in November 1990 from TJ Filters, a day he remembers well as it was his father Les’s birthday.
However, Steve’s career with the company was nearly scuppered before it began as he turned up for his interview at the wrong hotel.
He said: “It wasn’t the best possible start. The interview was at a Moat House in Dunstable, but unbeknown to me, there were two and I went to the wrong one and had to rush to make the appointment. However, it all went well and I was offered the job at eight o’clock that evening.
“I had left school at fifteen and started an apprenticeship with a Volvo dealer. After that I had a lot of different sales and workshop jobs in the industry as I used to get bored after two or three years and looked for a change. When I joined NGK, I knew I had found family. NGK was on the ascendancy then and was at the top of the tree.”
Steve said some highlights of this career with NGK was meeting motorsport legends Murray Walker and Paddy Hopkirk, visiting the company’s Japanese headquarters, and also winning a corporate competition with the slogan: ‘Quality is where NGK/NTK begins and goes beyond; our quality knows no boundaries.’
Lockdown rules permitting, Steve, whose sales area covered the South East and ‘M1 Corridor’, hopes to say farewell to as many of his customers as possible in person before he departs the company.
He said: “A number of my customers have become very close friends over the years and I will really miss them and also everyone I work with. I have worked alongside some fantastic people at NGK and for some great bosses including Jim Hughes, Brian Childs and now Marko Wowczyna.”
Steve, who has been married to Karen for nearly 37 years, plans to spend his retirement playing golf, gardening, reading and listening to music. He also would like to help out local charities near his home at Stansted Mountfitchet as well as following Spurs and continuing his love of Rugby by supporting Northampton Saints and watching Bedford Blues in action.
NGK Spark Plugs (UK) Ltd Marketing Manager Mark Hallam said: “The success of NGK over the years has not only been down to the quality of our products but also in no small part due to the hard work and professionalism of people like Steve. We will miss him but I’m sure he will come to see us at various industry events in the future.”