The dynamism, resilience and expertise of well-known Newtownards business owner Sam Stothers has been recognised with one of the biggest awards of the night at the Northern Ireland Electrical Awards 2023.

The Special Recognition Award celebrates people in the province’s electrical sector who have shown leadership and innovation within their role, as well as dedication and commitment to every aspect of their business or career.

Sam, who is the founder and technical director of G.S Stothers Mechanical and Electrical Engineering, also picked up a highly commended award in the Specialist Contractor of the Year category at the prestigious ceremony, held at the Crowne Plaza, Shaws Bridge last Friday.

George Samuel Stothers, known as Sam, has played a key role within the mechanical and electrical engineering industry over the past 40 years, having turned his fortunes around when he and his colleagues were told they were being made redundant within 24 hours.

The news came as they were involved in a large-scale project that heavily relied on Sam and his team for its successful completion.

Colt Group, the project’s suppliers, asked Sam if he would be willing to establish his own venture to ensure the project could continue.

Sam stepped up to the challenge and partnered with colleague Norman Friar, who later sold his stake back to Sam, and in  1986, G.S Stothers was founded, becoming the sole distributor for Colt Group in Northern Ireland.

The company flourished thanks to Sam’s initiative to build a warehouse from scratch, which enabled them to move into the manufacturing of smoke and fire curtains, later establishing themselves as  Northern Ireland’s Smoke Control Specialists.

Despite facing several setbacks, including a burglary that saw the theft of valuable assets, including cheque books and even their guard dog, Sam persevered and built a reputable business spanning Northern Ireland, the Republic of Ireland, and mainland UK.

He was assisted along the way by his wife Maureen who managed the company’s finances. Together, they raised four sons, one of whom, Jonney, has been mentored by his father and has now taken on the role of managing director, ensuring the continuation of the family business.

Jonney said the family is still on a high after the events of Friday night, but the most treasured accolade has to be the Special Recognition Award received by his dad.

“We are so proud of everything he has worked for and achieved since he went into business 40 years ago,” he said.

“Our work on the Ulster University project in Belfast earned us a spot as a finalist in the Small Commercial Project of the Year category, and we were also highly commended in the Specialist Contractor of the Year category alongside our sister company, SR Fire and Security, who were finalists in the category.”