Our People

Mike O’Connor

Sales Director
Joined in 1968

On July 20th, 1969, Apollo 11 landed on the Moon. One year earlier, Mike replied to an advertisement in a local newspaper for a draftsman at Causeway Steel. For many at the Northfleet-based company, the latter event proved just as pivotal and world-changing as the former.

Following a post-school stint with CEGB at Northfleet Power Station and a period making pavers and road rollers, Mike began his professional life at Causeway Steel in 1968 as a detail draftsman (on layouts for vessels and drawings for material for manufacture).

Mike left the company in 1971 and joined IBM as a facilities draftsman to broaden his experience. Mike returned to the Five Ash Works fold as a contracts manager with responsibility for the installation of products primarily in Europe and the UK.

In 1981, the year that Muhammad Ali and Joe Frazier hung up their gloves, Mike had a ‘minor’ difference of opinion with Causeway Steel’s MD which led Mike leaving Causeway once again.

Unlike the less illustrious prize fighters on the above list, though, Mike would subsequently come out of retirement and ‘back home’ two years later and for the final time as Sales Manager. This was two years later, after working with his father-in-law on the repair and maintenance of lifting equipment.

With networks in Europe and the Middle East firmly established, Mike would devote time and resources in his new role to developing new channels and markets in the US, Japan, Far East, and India with considerable success. This was at a time when Causeway Steel was owned by Amber Industrial, whose parent company in turn was Caledonia Investments.

In 1992, Caledonia Investments strategically reshuffled its commercial deck of cards and made Causeway Steel a subsidiary of Sterling instead. To drive the steel products company forward, all four Causeway Steel managers, including Mike, were promoted to Director level.

Fast-forward ten years and Sterling wished to pull out. As a consequence, Mike and four of his colleagues undertook a management buyout and proceeded to oversee a decade of significant business growth.

Speaking of co-workers, Mike cites one Des Bowditch as a major influence on his career. Managing director of Causeway Steel from the early ’60s until his departure in 1983, Des was, in Mike’s words, a good motivator, memorable character, and a good salesman.

The most memorable contract Mike himself has ever won? A turnaround (where the refinery shuts down for maintenance) at Lindsey Oil. In a nutshell, this was a one-month project that was worth over £1m, involved 150 people, and included the installation of refractories.

Des would have no doubt have been rather proud.