M-Sport founder Malcolm Wilson believes the time has arrived to push ahead with restructuring plans following the news that Commercial Director John Steele will be stepping down at the end of this year.
Steele has been involved in various guises with the British company for almost four decades now – and has been singled out by Wilson for helping to build it into the “motorsport powerhouse that it is today”.
As Wilson's longest-serving employee, Steele has been witness to some of the most significant milestones in M-Sport's history, including the acquisition of the Ford contract to run its cars in the FIA World Rally Championship, seven FIA World Rally Championship titles, and securing the services of star drivers including Sebastien Ogier, Carlos Sainz and the late Colin McRae.
He has also been responsible for increasing staff numbers, and played an important part in turning the new state-of-the-art evaluation centre near the village of Cockermouth from a drawing into bricks and mortar.
Although the move will give Steele more free time to spend with his family, he is set to remain involved in an advisory capacity with M-Sport UK and oversee changes to the management hierarchy.
“The 38 years I have spent as part of the M-Sport family have flown by, and I take with me a great sense of pride in helping this once small family business grow into the global industry leader it is today,” said Steele.
“For that I sincerely thank Malcolm and Elaine for giving me the opportunity along with their help and trust all those years ago. M-Sport's always been and will continue to be about its people.”
Steele's decision to wind down has led Wilson to restructure the company and as part of this process has appointed a new leadership team that will consist of his son Matthew – the current company director – and M-Sport Technical Director Chris Williams, FIA World Rally Championship Team Principal Richard Millener, Finance Director Paul McKnespiey and M-Sport Poland board member Maciej Woda.
Wilson believes having Steele involved will ensure stability for M-Sport customers, suppliers and staff.
“Firstly, I would like to thank John for everything he has done to help build M-Sport into what it is today – it wouldn't have been possible without him,” said Wilson.
“As he steps back, the time is now right to progress our succession plan for M-Sport UK and in Matthew, Chris, Rich, Paul and Maciej we have five exceptionally driven individuals with the knowledge and insight to ensure our continued growth and success.
“We already have a close day-to-day working relationship, and I look forward to continuing and strengthening that over the coming years,” added the two-time British National Champion.