He is succeeded by the company’s assistant managing director Kevin O’Carroll (pictured). The changes took effect from May 1.

Mr Bangs joined Milton Keynes-based SMC as sales manager in 1984.  He was appointed Managing Director 1998 and under his leadership, the UK subsidiary of Japanese-owned SMC Corporation has grown and survived significant global economic challenges.

In 2014 he was promoted to the main board of directors of SMC Corporation, with responsibility for SMC’s European operations.  

He will continue working for SMC in the capacity of corporate advisor.

Mr O’Carroll has worked for SMC Pneumatics for the past 28 years, having begun his career as an apprentice at Vauxhall.

He gained experience in several key areas of the business, culminating in promotion to head of operations in 1996 and has been assistant managing director for six years.

He said: “Steve will be a hard act to follow and it is because of his leadership that SMC UK is so well-respected by the board of directors of SMC Corporation.  

“He steered us through some difficult times and we have come through even stronger, so I do not plan to make any wholesale changes to the way we operate.”

Success is due to the quality of staff at the firm, whose headquarters are at Crownhill, and continued investment in new product development.  

“In the UK we follow the Japanese ethos and strive to build trust and respect with our customers and our employees,” said Mr O’Carroll. “Over half of our employees have been with us for more than ten years and this stability gives us an excellent skills base plus the flexibility of a committed workforce that are willing to accommodate workflow changes.

“The calibre of our people in the UK is appreciated throughout the corporation and many of our team over the years have been actively sought out to work on European and global projects to support SMC.

Mr Bangs said: “After 31 years with SMC, it has been very gratifying to be a part of the success and growth we have achieved.

“One thing that has stood out for me is the enthusiasm and support I have received from all of the staff here – support that I know Kevin will be able to rely on as he takes the reins.”

Mr O’Carroll said:  “I have ‘grown up’ in this company and we have a first class management team that wants the best – not just for employees but for all our customers and sales partners too.  

“I am looking forward to building on the foundations that Steve has put in place and taking SMC forward into the next era.” 

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