The Lifetime Achievement Award this year goes to a man who will be known personally to many in the industry – namely retired Deputy Managing Director of NGK UK, Brian Childs.
Childs joined NGK when it set-up in the UK in 1975, moving from Ford, where he started as an apprentice and then worked as part of the design and engineering team at Dunton.
In the mid-1970s NGK was primarily known as a supplier of spark plugs for motorbikes and when Brian joined he was one of just four sales representatives, covering an area north of the Thames up to Norfolk and Suffolk.
He said: “When I started with NGK, we had virtually no distribution network and had to deal directly with garages, and had to work hard to persuade them to try an unknown NGK in place of the well established brands familiar to the market.
“The key to our success has been the quality of our products and this was so important even from the very early days. We gained a good reputation from the quality of our plugs and sold a lot of product into not only independent garages, but also dealerships. Business grew and grew, but really took off when we started supplying national wholesalers like Godfrey Holmes and Partco in 1982. Others soon followed.”
Brian’s career with NGK has seen the company expand its product range and grow its business tremendously. In his opinion, starting as a rep and making personal relationships with clients gave him an advantage as he progressed through the company. “If you come into a company as the head, you have to earn the respect of your customers as soon as you start, but as a rep you can earn that respect as you go.”
Although Childs retired from the day-to-day running
of the firm in 2013, he remains on the board in an advisory capacity.
On the subject of the award, Childs said he was ‘surprised and honoured’ to receive it. “It was my birthday that day and it fills me with a great deal of pleasure and pride.
“When you think of the great band of people that have won the award in the past it fills be with a great amount of pride – it really does. The award certainly caps off a wonderful career.”