Steve Knowles was a huge character, who always lived life to the full and at maximum speed! He was incredibly social, had a very engaging personality and thoroughly enjoyed being with people, especially with a drink in hand! He always had a story to tell and, as many of you will know, was truly great company. He certainly made life fun, brightened people lives and left them with so many happy and positive memories. I was always amazed, when I was away at exhibitions in the UK and overseas with him, that so many people would search him out and excitedly recount some great night out they had had with him. Once met, people never forgot him!

Steve had a long and successful career in the Body Shop Industry, covering more than 35 years. Starting as a Panel Beater, he moved through body shop management and then in 1988 into equipment sales and sales management with Blackhawk. In 2004 he purchased out of administration the Celette brand of Jig Benches for the UK and formed Bodyshop Solutions, which he successfully grew and progressively expanded with his team, to include major brands, such as Wielander + Schill, IRT, TEXA, Rotary, Telwin, Minden and many others, selling to the whole of the UK market.  He was commercially very astute and was an excellent business partner to me over the 9 years that we have had together – as well as having tremendous fun along the way!

Steve really was a superb salesman, who was incredibly personable and persuasive.  He knew his products very well and built up a huge loyalty and trust over many years with his customers, who he really looked after, only selling them what they needed. He had a very direct style and would certainly tell them straight, without any flannel, as to the best solution for them, which customers appreciated.

In addition, over the years he has always tried to support and nurture new body shop businesses, and there are a number of now well-known businesses that he really helped during their fledgling days.

However, strangely, for a person who was so confident, he had a real fear of public speaking to large groups. For example, when he and I had to speak to a large number of people at a Celette Worldwide Distributor Conference, I have never seen a man so anxious beforehand, profusely sweating, palpitating and chain smoking, absolutely terrified of drying up on stage. The presentation went very smoothly, with him relaxing very quickly and speaking well, but public speaking to large groups never sat easily with him.

In summary, Steve has packed a huge amount into his 57 years, but unfortunately after an 8 months fight against cancer he passed away peacefully on 27th May, surrounded by his family. He has certainly been taken too soon, however, anyone who had had the pleasure of knowing Steve will definitely feel that he has added markedly to their lives, will have a story to tell and some great memories. He will be remembered with a smile and will be sorely missed by so many friends around the world.

Our thoughts go out to his immediate family, Cath, Ryan and Nicola, at this difficult time.

Funeral arrangements are yet to be finalised – please email me on or phone on 07774 645754 if you would like to be informed of the funeral arrangements.


Mark Swaby