Bill Downie crowned Industry Personality of Year

Bill Downie has been named as the Catering Equipment Distributors Association’s ‘Industry Personality of the Year’.

The Meiko UK boss collected his award on Friday evening at CEDA’s annual awards ceremony and gala dinner in St Andrews, Scotland.

Downie was presented with his award by Nick Howe, managing director of London-based distributor Court Catering Equipment, who paid tribute to the service he has given to the industry, calling him a “committed supporter of CEDA” over the past two decades.

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Howe told suppliers and dealers in attendance: “Our industry personality joined the FCSI as an Allied Member in 2002 and along with Steve Cole, then of Vent Master, worked alongside the UK board, set in place new membership guidelines and a fee structure that provided the financial support to enable the society to grow to the organisation that it is today.”

Downie’s career in the catering industry began when he left catering school in 1968. After serving his apprenticeship at hotels in the UK and Switzerland, he took on senior chef roles in his native Scotland.

Following a stint as a salesman with Findus Frozen Foods in 1975, Downie moved into equipment sales with Edinburgh-based John Kelly & Son, before spending six years in the Gulf with catering equipment importer Al Otaiba.

Downie moved back to the UK in 1986 and after a period running his own private hotel, he returned to the catering equipment business as managing director of Strands Scientific. The company eventually became Carron Strands, whose agencies included Elro, Rorgue and Meiko.

In 1994 Meiko UK was formed with Downie at the helm and he has overseen the development of the company’s offering and grown revenues to almost £20m a year.

“He created a team business and over the years it has been the commitment of these team members and attention to detail that has delivered under his leadership the success that Meiko is now,” said Howe.

CEDA gave out its first Industry Personality award in 1997 and recent recipients of the accolade have included Allan Russell, David Smithson and John Savage.

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