Steve Kirk remembers the days as a child in Wales, when presses breaking down meant his newsagent father had to tip out of bed at 5 am and drive to collect the papers.
"The dailies came by train from London, but there was often a telephone call that there had been technical problems at the print site and my father would have to drive into the town to pick them up.
"Little did I know that I would end up trying to avoid those technical problems," says Kirk, who retires from his role as marketing head at ABB's control technologies unit at the end of this month.
He completes 32 years with ABB Switzerland, 30 of them "by chance" in the newspaper printing business and says it has been a fascinating - if not exactly stress-free - journey.
"I have always enjoyed being part of the great family that is the newspaper industry, but the time has now come to start ticking off those things on my bucket list that kept getting postponed as long as I was working."
He has been involved in marketing and communication for the last 16 years, and says meeting so many interesting people all over the world was a privilege, but won't miss the poor air, artificial light and continuous background noise of inevitable exhibition halls. "On the other hand, the trade shows were a great place for meeting people, which I will miss a lot."
Occasional project management roles provided memorable highlights to his career including two big press automation projects at Singapore Press Holdings - the KBA presses around 2003 and the Goss Colorliner retrofits around 2009 -and more recent project at Chronicle Herald in Halifax, Canada.
Still active in competitive sport - though "not as quick as I once was" - he sees clear parallels with competition in industry. "The competition is necessary to reach higher performance levels, and during a race you fight as hard as you can to beat your competitors, just like in business, but sooner or later someone gets to the finish line first, the race is over, you shake hands with your competitors and take fresh motivation to train hard for the next race," he says. "I have a lot of respect for our competitors in the market that fight hard but fair, but can still share a couple of beers in the evening when the competition is over."
Steve Kirk's roles at ABB are being taken over by head of printing Damian Staedeli (email@example.com, tel. +41 58 586 8610) and marketing colleague Evelyn Daetwyler (firstname.lastname@example.org,com, tel. +41 58 586 8745).
Pictured: Time for good conduct - Steve Kirk 'conducts' a computer in a demonstration of ABB's gesture-driven control technology at IfraExpo in 2013 (picture GXpress.net)
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