Catering equipment industry stalwart Bill Downie will retire as managing director of Meiko UK in April next year, FEJ can reveal.
After nearly 23 years at the helm of the warewashing specialist, Mr Downie has agreed that 7 April 2017 will be his last day with the firm.
The company first launched its products directly into the UK market back in January 1994, having previously worked on an agency basis with catering equipment supplier Carron Strands, where Mr Downie also held the role of managing director.
When Meiko UK launched back in 1994, there were just 10 employees. Today the business has a workforce of 88, including 42 directly-employed service engineers looking after a wide spectrum of customers ranging from airline caterers and train operators to hotel groups and high street restaurant chains.
Meiko hasn’t yet divulged its succession plans, but Mr Downie said that whoever fills his shoes will lead a highly dedicated workforce. “We have a great team here at Meiko UK – all focused on delivering the highest standard of customer service seven days a week and my successor will inherit what I believe to be the best bunch of employees in the industry,” he said.
Mr Downie started his selling career in the industry back in 1977 with John Kelly & Son (Kitchen Engineers) under the guidance of industry legend Bob Macnab, before moving to Dubai late in 1979 as general manager of Al Otaiba Foodservice Equipment. Returning to the UK in 1986, and after a brief spell as a hotel owner in his native Scotland, he was persuaded back into the catering equipment industry in 1998.
When he retires in April 2017, Mr Downie and his wife Betty plan to move back to their native Scotland to see out life after retirement, having acquired a house in the harbour town of North Berwick, 18 miles east of Edinburgh.
“I had thought of working on well past retirement age, but Betty suffers from a degenerative illness that means she requires constant help and attention and I felt that the time was right to move back amongst close family who can support us both in the years to come,” he said. “Other plans include once again picking up the golf clubs, as I will be surrounded by wonderful courses all along the East Lothian golf coast.”
Mr Downie said that he also hopes to be helping out with local charitable organisations on a voluntary basis as during recent years charitable works has become part of the Meiko UK “DNA”. It has distributed more than 140 re-conditioned front-loading Meiko dishwashing machines to various organisations the length and breadth of the country, in addition to delivering three truckloads of donated equipment to an Iranian refugee charity based in Paris.
Mr Downie said that when the time comes to leave the office for good, he will most miss the day-to-day buzz that he gets from doing the job, along with the personal friendships that he has made over the past 23 years and the colleagues he works with on a daily basis.