30/03/2020
Blog

Mike Gardner joined Sika almost 40 years ago, and Friday 27th March marked his last day with the business. In our latest blog, Mike discusses his time with the business and retiring in the current climate.

Mike Gardner joined Sika almost 40 years ago, and Friday 27th March marked his last day with the business. In our latest blog, Mike discusses his time with the business and retiring in the current climate

Well...I never envisaged that my time at Sika would end in the way that it has.

Holidays booked, parties organised and my 2020 retirement diary full.

Of course all this has now been turned on its head and like everybody else we must put all our plans on hold and work together to get us through this unprecedented and challenging period.  At times like this you are reminded of what are the really  important things in life.

Just as I will always remember my last day in the business, I have never forgotten my first day at Liquid Plastics. Back in 1980 my then boss took me to the local pub at lunchtime for a pie and a pint. I beat him at pool - he never asked me to play again! Those early years were so much different than how we operate today. Weekly wage packets containing notes and coins, folders containing the morning mail, letters requiring a signature in a book that had large holes in the interleaves, carbon paper, and most of all no computers. Imagine that - no computers and no e-mail (arguably a good thing!). In actual fact we did have one computer. A massive Burroughs magnetic tape machine located in a climate controlled large room in the accounts department. It did the wages for about 80 people and that's all it did. How did we manage without PC's and all the technology that surrounds us today? But manage we did and we were very successful at it too. The business grew from strength to strength. We formed new companies in Incorez and Flexcrete and we acquired new much larger premises adjacent to the original factory which we still operate from today.

 

Mike Gardner
Image: Mike Gardner - Senior Buyer, Sika UK
Liquid Plastics
Image: The First Liquid Plastics Limited Vans

As a result of the expansion new career opportunities were created and I was delighted that I was able to benefit from these. From starting in a position as the Assistant Buyer I was soon given the responsibility for all buying and inventory activity for the Preston site and was given the grand title of Company Buyer. I went to Blackburn college to study for the Chartered Institute of Purchasing and Supply Qualifications. The business continued on an upward trajectory, New products, new technologies, new materials, new customers. Times were good and I was given my first company car - a second-hand Rover 216. No more MOT's to worry about or scrap yards to visit!

I was very much aware that the business recognised employees who made a difference. Those with passion and commitment and those who cared. Just the same as Sika do today. I saw others progress to senior positions. I had aspirations to do the same which were fulfilled. I enrolled on a 3 year MBA programme. Whilst I personally didn't feel that it was life-changing as the promotional material may have you believe I became exposed to a large new field of knowledge and understanding on what makes a business tick. I like to think that  this served me well during my career. 

After holding various procurement and logistics roles I progressed to the Operations Managers position for the Preston site under Sika after the acquisition and more latterly I have been back in procurement supporting the departments strategic initiatives.

During the past 40 years I have worked with some brilliant and inspiring people. Enthused managers and leaders who are able to drive the business forwards and know how to get the best out of their teams. My colleagues and peers throughout the years have always supported me and I would like to say thank you to them. I am especially proud and appreciative of the people who have worked within my teams. Those at Sika know who they are so thank you everyone - we couldn't have done it without each other. You are my friends and always will be.

As the song goes 'when the going gets tough the tough get going' and there is no question that Sika will soon overcome the current unfortunate situation and move on to even greater things.

We want to thank Mike for his continued hard work and enthusiasm during his time at Sika and wish him a long, happy and healthy retirement.


 

"Mike has played a hugely important role in the development of my career. Without his guidance, drive and continued support then I would not be in the position I am today. Over the last 26 years there have been many changes to the business but Mike has been ever present. He's been a great boss, colleague and friend…. and I very much expect that will continue in the future when we catch up for a beer......or two!" Phil Heyes, Head of Procurement for Sika UK