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Second gold watch for lubricants industry stalwart John

One of the most highly respected figures in the UK lubricants industry has celebrated more than half a century of service by being presented with his second gold watch.

John Alton, commercial director of Shrewsbury-based Morris Lubricants, is credited with driving the company forward to great success during his time as chief executive.

He joined Britain’s leading family-owned, independent oil blenders and marketers in 1989 from Silkolene Oils in Belper, Derbyshire, where he was sales and marketing director and collected his first gold watch for 25 years’ service.

He handed over the reins at Morris Lubricants to managing director Andrew Goddard in 2008 but continues to be responsible for developing home and export markets.

Company director David Goddard, who made the presentation to Mr Alton, said: “John has driven the company forward over the past 25 years and, as far as our family is concerned, has made a huge difference.

“He has remained extremely loyal and has helped guide Andrew in his role as managing director. He is without doubt one of the most prominent and highly respected figures in the UK lubricants industry with worldwide experience.”

In 2012, in recognition of his stalwart service as the longest serving board member, Mr Alton was elected president of the United Kingdom Lubricants Association (UKLA), which represents more than 100 manufacturers in the lubricants and metalworking fluids industry.

He had previously served as vice president for eight years and received the President’s Award from the UKLA in 2008 for his contribution to the lubricants industry.

Mr Alton played a key role in transforming Morris Lubricants, including more than tripling sales volume and securing great commercial opportunities overseas. The company’s products, which all proudly bear the Union Jack, are now exported to more than 80 countries around the globe and the company has a workforce of 140.

Now aged 77, he is proud to have begun his career as an engineering apprentice with Rolls Royce and Bentley Motors in Crewe at the age of 15.

Reflecting on his 52 years in the lubricants industry, he said: “I am constantly surprised by the way the passage of times seems to accelerate as you get older. I still feel that the company has some exciting opportunities ahead and wish I could turn back the clock and do another 25 years in the industry.

“We had a difficult time in the early years but I was fortunate in being able to recruit a lot of my old colleagues and contemporaries from the industry. We established a very strong team and, from that time onwards, have seen a considerable amount of success, which has exceeded the expectations I had when I arrived to run the business.

“We are currently in a very strong position mainly because practically all our raw materials are imported and the strong pound is keeping costs down. Remaining in the pound, as opposed to being sucked in to the European currency, has proved to be a wise decision by the UK.”

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