NEOL Interviews: David Wilson

Author: NEOL

For the final blog in our ‘NEOL interviews’ series, we caught up with NEOL’s new Business Development Advisor, David Wilson.

Backed by over 30 years of experience in lubricant technology, business, and strategy, David has joined the NEOL team to help further develop the company’s value proposition and showcase the outstanding benefits of its innovative CuGlide technology.

We sat down with David to discuss his varied career, his passion for NEOL technology, and why watching paint dry isn’t always as boring as it is made to sound.

Q: Hi David! You started your career as an industrial chemist before moving into business development, could you tell us a bit about what led to this move?

David: I’ve always had a love for chemistry in business applications because I’ve always been deeply curious about the way things work. I studied the subject at university whilst gaining invaluable experiences as an R&D development chemist and, after graduating with a first-class Hons degree, a career in chemistry seemed like the obvious choice.

To begin with I was working with the manufacture and testing of specialised industrial cleaning products – which meant my car was always meticulously cleaned and polished! Afterwards, I moved into the coatings industry, where I quickly progressed into the R&D group and became an integral part of the team responsible for creating new water-based paint technology. At this point in time water-based paints for industrial applications were highly innovative, and it took time to demonstrate that their performance matched that of conventional oil-based paints. Now, these eco-friendly products are very much the norm.

And yes, in this position part of my job was genuinely to watch paint dry! It was one of a series of experiments designed to test the various formulas – some containing novel components – which led to us developing successful product solutions with credible market value. Contrary to the saying, it was a very fascinating industry to work in, and this deepened my passion for chemistry, business, and marketing.

I then moved on to lubricant technology as an application chemist, which is when I found myself becoming far more interested in the business side of things. Eventually, in the late 90s (a long time ago…), I decided to hang up my lab coat and move into project management for a well-known lubricant additive manufacturer.

It turned out to be a great decision and I was soon rewarded with an opportunity to move into product management and focus on heavy-duty engine lubricants – cut my body in half and it says “HDDEO”!  I relished meeting our key customers and OEMs from Europe and beyond over the following years, forging strong relationships built on mutual trust, confidence, and respect. I deepened my understanding of their business goals and pain points, then supplied the latest product solutions which were truly appreciated by their customers and the end user. Through collaboration with the sales teams, marketing teams, and numerous testing divisions we delivered exceptional year on year business successes.

Following this, I stepped into the position of regional business manager (which evolved over time to commercial director) and became a people leader, as well as using my skills and experiences as a strategic business leader reporting into senior management. I had the tremendous pleasure to work with and coach extremely talented people, and this gave me an opportunity to further broaden my skill set to support the company’s future talent and successes.

Q: In your experience, what have you found to be the key driver for business growth?

David: There are a lot of components that go into business development, but if I had to choose just one thing, it would be people. The team always comes first, and having the right passionate and talented people onboard and allowing them to collaborate and contribute is going to be the quickest way for any company to unlock growth, regardless of the industry they are in.

For me personally, I’ve found leading, coaching, and developing people to be one of the most rewarding parts of my career. Not only rewarding in the sense that it felt good, which it did of course, but also because any investments put into staff development were quickly reflected in the culture, performance, and results of the company.

Q: What were the main reasons behind your decision to join NEOL?

David: Firstly, there is the technology. Over the course of 30 years working in the lubricants industry, not once did I come across anyone talking about copper filming additives or no-SAPS solutions. It was all conventional ash-containing detergents and ZDDP.

Then, in comes NEOL, with a more effective, environmentally conscious approach to lubricant technology, backed by decades of research and development to prove it works in real-world applications. This was immediately exciting for me and, as more test results continue to demonstrate the power of CuGlide technology, my enthusiasm is only growing.

The other reason behind my decision was the sheer level of passion in the NEOL team. There isn’t a single person here that is doing their job for the sake of it, or so they can advance their career. It is a diverse team made up of people that are passionate about the technology, know the potential impact it can have, and are committed to driving NEOL’s success.

Q: Looking at the road ahead, what are the main challenges you think NEOL will face?

David: One of the most significant challenges is going to be overcoming the scepticism around CuGlide technology. We are presenting a fundamentally different approach to lubricants, challenging the status quo, and offering something that not only prevents wear in new machines, but rejuvenates and protects the longevity of old machinery as well. It’s only reasonable that people would be sceptical.

Our strategy is to keep demonstrating the effectiveness of our product in real-world scenarios and in controlled laboratory conditions. We’ve already seen some incredible results, and we will continue to test CuGlide and share the outcomes with potential customers so they can see first-hand what we’re offering.

It was the same with the water-based paints. A new approach that no one at the time believed could replace oil-based solutions. But it has. For NEOL, it will just take a handful of courageous business leaders to expand their view and try CuGlide for themselves.

Q: Thanks David. Final question, where do you see NEOL going in the future?

David: Providing that we can convert people’s scepticism into curiosity, then the sky is the limit. NEOL has created something genuinely revolutionary, that can make a huge difference to the performance of machines, while reducing their environmental impact.

Regulatory standards continue to put pressure on manufacturers to significantly reduce the level of zinc and phosphorus used in anti-wear additives and the level of ash-containing detergents, which has led to the creation of low-SAPS technology. NEOL is already one step ahead of this, offering a completely no-SAPS alternative that protects and rejuvenates equipment.

There are challenges ahead for this industry, but I truly believe NEOL will change the lubricants industry for good.