Tributes Paid to Exporting Titan Mike Strawson

20 October 2017


Tributes have been paid to Mike Strawson who died on Sunday 8 October after a brave battle with cancer.

Chamber International - Mike Strawson

Urbane master of ceremonies, businessman, one of Britain’s most respected export trainers, amateur baker, charity fund raiser, real ale lover, father, stepfather and grandfather, Mike Strawson had many roles - and an almost fevered passion for everything to do with international trade.

During a lifetime involved with international trade, in a wide range of roles, Mike Strawson trained thousands of businesses and export professionals, including other trainers, across the UK and overseas.

He was very well-known and held in high esteem in Yorkshire where he assisted hundreds of companies with different aspects of international trade during 13 years as Chamber International’s senior export trainer and acted as host at dozens of networking events to encourage more businesses in the Leeds City Region to start exporting.

A kind, relaxed man, who dispensed wisdom and mirth in equal measure, Mike Strawson was a sharp dresser with an equally sharp mind. Even into his 70s, he was always prepared to work late and travel long distances to meet with businesses to give advice on exporting.

While working for Croda International PLC, his management of a very successful international trade department led to him being asked to mentor three other companies in the Croda Polymers International group as well as accompanying a senior manager to the Middle East to provide mentoring and guidance during visits to potential customers and distributors.

After leaving Croda, he co-founded a company importing furniture and then became a consultant to the UK adhesives industry. This included a major contract with Datac Adhesives Ltd, which asked him to create a new division, training its staff and accompanying a director on visits to South East Asia.

Following this, Mike formed Novatech Adhesives to buy and export cyanoacrylate adhesives, and, ever generous with his expertise, also mentored Tuflok Adhesive Products Ltd and Trulock Adhesives Ltd, an Irish company, in their international trade activities.

Mike eventually decided to concentrate on training through his business, The Export Trainer Ltd, delivering courses for chambers of commerce and the Institute of Export, which employed him as a tutor.

He also created and delivered training for UK Trade & Investment, now the Department of International Trade, and trained export professionals in Trinidad, Malaysia, Iran, France, Germany and Singapore.

He was the first UK person to deliver training for Eurochambres, the Association of European Chambers of Commerce, to senior executives from European and Middle Eastern Chambers of Commerce and was a member of the Anglo Nigerian Global Analytics Academy, creating and delivering training to central bank directors, government secretaries and customs and port directors.

A man of tremendous enthusiasm and energy, right up to an age when many people would prefer to take it easy, he co-authored a leading export industry guide and contributed to newsletters and magazines on international trade.

His formidable skills were recognised by the Institute of Export and International Trade in May this year when he became only the third person in the history of the Institute to be presented with a Lifetime Achievement award.  

When away from work, Mike was a Spiritualist with a strong Christian base, a loving family man to his wife, Val, a father of two, stepfather of three and grandfather of eight. He loved cooking curries, often for charity fund raising, enjoyed real ale and holidayed with his caravan on the Yorkshire East Coast at Robin Hoods Bay.

Chamber International director, Tim Bailey, says: “Mike was highly respected and regarded with affection by our whole team, not just for his considerable expertise in exporting but for his qualities as a wise, kind and considerate individual. He was not just a colleague to me but a good friend too.

“Mike trained and advised hundreds of businesses throughout the UK and beyond and I suspect that these sentiments are shared by many people within those organisations as well. Mike Strawson was a man you were glad you had met and you did not wish to let the memory fade.”