He 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.
Notes to Editors
About NGK SPARK PLUG:
Worldwide: NGK SPARK PLUG is one of the leading automotive and technical ceramics suppliers, with its corporate headquarters in Nagoya, Japan and sales organisations and production facilities all over the world. The automotive side of the company specialises in the fields of ignition and sensor technology, supplying Original Equipment customers across the globe. For the Aftermarket, its product portfolio comprises spark plugs, glow plugs, ignition coils and leads under the NGK Ignition Parts brand. Under the brand NTK Vehicle Electronics the company offers oxygen sensors (including NOx sensors), exhaust gas temperature sensors (EGTS), mass air flow (MAF) and manifold absolute/boost pressure (MAP) sensors as well as engine speed and position sensors. With around 16,000 employees, the company’s automotive and technical ceramics activities generate a total annual turnover of around 3.5 billion Euros worldwide. NGK SPARK PLUG’s EMEA sales (including its EU, UK, France and Eurasia subsidiaries) represent 26.1% of this global turnover. NGK SPARK PLUG operates on all continents and has 41 group companies, 24 production plants and four Technical Centres.
Aftermarket EMEA: NGK SPARK PLUG has seen significant growth across the Aftermarket since expanding beyond motorcycle parts into the automotive sector in the 1970s. With an outstanding commitment to quality, technology and research & development the company has become the world’s number one in spark plugs and oxygen sensors, and a leading provider of glow plugs, ignition coils and leads as well as further sensor technology. Organisationally NGK SPARK PLUG’s regional headquarters in Ratingen, Germany serves the Aftermarket across Europe, the Middle East and Africa. In the EMEA region the company has ten group companies and more than 1,000 employees, as well as two production plants in France and South Africa and a Technical Centre in Germany.
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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 – Key Accounts, NGK Spark Plugs (UK) Ltd, paid tribute to Stewart’s long career with the company.
He 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.
“Stewart’s knowledge of the Irish market-place is unquestionable. He is completely trusted by his customer base and they are loyal to him and NGK in return. They have always supported him because he and NGK have always supported them and he has become firm friends with many of his customers. I wish him a long and happy retirement.”