Stephen Westley, who has run the Kemtile hygienic flooring business with co-director Jamie Cook, for over 40 years, is retiring and moving to an ad hoc consultancy position from this month.
The move follows the acquisition of Kemtile by US-based RPM Performance Coatings Group 18 months ago.
Stephen has been working with Jamie and the senior management team at RPM since then to effect a smooth integration of Kemtile people and service delivery within the wider Group, which serves 65 countries worldwide.
Stephen’s role will be shared going forward. Chris Cloherty has joined the business as General Manager, responsible for office management, finance and administration, and Robert Whelan has become Operations Manager, both reporting into Operations Director Jamie Cook, who will continue to lead the business in the new era.
The acquisition has seen a joining of forces with leading resin flooring manufacturers Stonhard in the UK, and Kemtile’s ambition is to become the single source solution of choice for UK commercial flooring needs in a range of markets.
Stephen has been involved in hygienic flooring all his working life since joining Ab-Chem Limited in Trafford Park in 1979. Leaving there in 1987 Stephen formed Williamson Corrosion Control with Maurice Williamson in Crewe and eventually Sandbach, which is where he met co-Director Jamie, working on a floor for him at Wolverhampton & Dudley Breweries. Jamie joined the business soon after.
In 1996 they set up Cook Industrial Services, also in Sandbach, to carry out mainly floor tiling. Two years later they met Terry Hardman, who owned Kemtile, which mainly laid resin floors. In no time there was a deal done to merge the companies under the Kemtile brand.
Stephen and Jamie grew the business from £0.7m to over £12m turnover in twenty years, culminating – for Stephen – in its own recent sale.
Stephen reflected that the years seem to have gone in a flash and commented: “I have thoroughly enjoyed my time at Kemtile, and my working years as a whole, and have been lucky that it has given me a good life. It is not been without its dramas – what business is – but we have survived all sorts and we sold with great pride to RPM in July 2018.
“We knew that we had built a highly respected business, well worthy of being part of a worldwide group as prestigious as them.”
He continued: “We have been lucky to have such an excellent team in the office, on the sites, in the warehouse and with sub-contractors over the years. We’ve all worked hard and had many laughs along the way, despite us employing too many supporters of football teams who play in red!” Stephen is a very keen Manchester City fan!
Speaking of the prospects for Kemtile as part of RPM, Stephen added: “The future looks very bright – despite the present Covid-19 upheaval – for Kemtile and Stonhard in the UK. It is a great fit and with the new products, additional staff, support and financial stability I am sure it will take Kemtile to the next level and deliver market leadership for many years to come.”
Stephen’s wife Carol, who has managed the company accounts since 1998, is also retiring.
Stephen said: “I would like to thank Carol, as none of this would have been possible without her support, hard work, dedication and excellent accounting skills over the years.”
Jamie Cook said that Stephen’s contribution had been immeasurable and he would be missed.
“When you work alongside someone for 20 years you get to know them well and I am very proud of all we achieved in that time, the amazing team we built around us – including Carol, of course, who kept us on the financial straight and narrow.
“The foundations we laid – literally – have set us on course now for an exciting future. I am delighted that Stephen will still be part of that for a while so we can draw on his vast experience of the hygienic flooring market. We wish him and Carol well as they start a new chapter in their lives.”