Richard Soper has announced his retirement from the position of CEO of Worcester, Bosch Group.
Mr Soper’s retirement follows a hugely successful career in the heating and hot water industry, which began in the late 1960s and has included such highs as being president of the Institute of Plumbing (IoP) in the early 1980s, receiving the prestigious ‘Champions Award’ from the British Renewable Energy Association and accepting a CBE from the Queen.
At the very start of his professional life, Mr Soper joined West Midlands Gas (part of British Gas) in the late 1960s and completed his apprenticeship there as a gas fitter. At the time, a fundamental change was taking place in the UK as natural gas was emerging as the nation’s main fuel supply. This early training and comprehensive practical experience is a time Mr Soper often refers to as working at the ‘sharp end’ of the heating and hot water industry, which has been the backbone of his career ever since.
Having completed his apprenticeship, Mr Soper then joined Delglo Appliances, which was part of the Delta Group at the time, as a salesman. In this role, he was lucky enough to spend time working on the development of one of the first ever combination boilers in the UK, which was launched in the early 1970s.
Cecil Duckworth of Worcester Engineering purchased Delglo Appliances in 1977 and Mr Soper stayed there as national sales and marketing manager until 1984. However, he wanted to broaden his experience with some export sales at the time, which was something Worcester couldn’t offer, so he moved to Pegler as marketing director, where international focus and experiencing sales techniques and travelling extensively could be found.
In 1993, he returned to Worcester Heat Systems as sales and marketing director before becoming managing director of Bosch Thermotechnology, which incorporates both the Worcester and Bosch Commercial and Industrial brands, in 2001. Having spent 10 years as managing director, Mr Soper handed over the baton to Worcester’s current managing director, Carl Arntzen, when he became CEO in 2011.
Since then, Mr Soper also managed the Bosch Thermotechnology Wall Boiler business unit throughout the world, encompassing eight manufacturing plants, with worldwide responsibility for wall-mounted boilers. In 2012, he became the regional president TT for Robert Bosch LLC’s North American division while still retaining his CEO position at Worcester, which led him to relocate to Boston, Massachusetts.
Reflecting upon his experiences working at Worcester, Bosch Group, Mr Soper, said: “Working in the heating and hot water industry for the time I have has been a truly fantastic experience - a real joy. As the saying goes, when you enjoy your job you’ve never done a day’s work, which is exactly how I feel.
“During my many years at Worcester I have been lucky to have worked with some amazing like-minded people who have shared and continue to share my passion for delivering heating and hot water comfort. From the day I started out I have always enjoyed working with plumbers, installers and contractors too. They bring an incredible amount of value to people’s lives.
“Now I have retired, I will be supporting CIPHE and its team of professionals to continue to identify ways of promoting careers in the heating and hot water industry, with the aim of encouraging more young people to get involved. At the end of the day, homeowners want comfort with safety, and encouraging professionalism in our industry is absolutely central to achieving that.”