The GGF was deeply saddened to hear of the passing of Stephen Byers, co-developer of the ClearShield System® and co-founder and managing director of Ritec International Limited. Stephen passed away peacefully on 6 March 2021 aged 79, as a result of pneumonia.
Stephen and his wife and business partner Karen are well-known figures in the glass industry both in the UK and internationally and Ritec has been in the GGF Membership since 1987.
Over the last 30 years, Stephen was very involved in the GGF and held various positions including Chairman of the London Region from 2006-2010 as well as being a founder Chairman of the GGF Modified Glass Group in 2013. Stephen also served for 10 years on the GGF Marketing and Communications Committee and was on the GGF Glazing Executive for 7 years.
Stephen and Karen’s achievements were deservedly recognised, when they received the GGF award for “Outstanding Contribution to the Industry” at GGF Members’ Day 2019 at Hilton Kensington Olympia.
Stephen’s relentless work with the GGF began with his input into the development of several industry standards, and to make health & safety and ethics driving factors in the growth of his emerging sector. Though a tenacious businessman, Stephen was also an extremely sociable person, attending many GGF and industry events in the UK and abroad.
On hearing the sad news, John Agnew, GGF Managing Director commented, “I have shared many meetings and enjoyable social events with Stephen and Karen over many years. It is a very sad loss for the industry and the GGF. My heartfelt sympathies go to Karen and the immediate family at this time.”
Peter Stuttard, GGF Head of Membership said, “Stephen was a true gentleman and stalwart of the GGF Membership. He was a popular and productive Chairman of the GGF London Region. He will be sorely missed and my sincere condolences to Karen and her family and friends.”
James Lee, GGF Director of External Affairs worked with Stephen on the GGF Marketing and Communications Committee and also at exhibitions and events. On receiving the news, James said, “I was very sad to hear of Stephen’s passing. We worked together on numerous marketing and PR projects and I will fondly remember the many social occasions when I enjoyed his and Karen’s company. Stephen was a unique and popular personality in our industry who will be sadly missed. My thoughts are with Karen and her family at this difficult time.”
Pioneering the Industry
Stephen and Karen were an inseparable team for over 40 years ago and they challenged the glass industry to transform perceptions and attitudes towards the protection and maintenance of glass surfaces. They displayed staunch determination and admirable dedication to raising awareness on the corrosion of glass, and most importantly how it may be avoided or corrected. And their efforts paid off.
Stephen and Karen single-handedly created a new and global industry for the protection of glass surfaces now firmly and permanently accepted by the whole of the glass and construction industry. Their award-winning ClearShield System® (later rebranded the ClearShield Eco-System®) for the renovation, protection and maintenance of glass, pioneered and still continues to be a leader in ‘non-stick’, easy-clean glass surface technology.
Today their technology is used in more than 70 countries on commercial and residential buildings as well as on ships and other transport vehicles, and in many other applications. But also lesser known, Stephen and Karen introduced crucial innovations such as a ground-breaking system for the protection of glass and ceramic electrical insulators with their VoltShield System™.
Karen Byers commented, “I feel privileged to have enjoyed such a wonderful life with Stephen and to have shared the excitements and challenges of creating amazing innovations with him. I am determined more than ever to keep Ritec International running smoothly, feeling great strength to ensure its prosperity so that Stephen’s legacy may live on for many years to come”.
Karen and the rest of the Ritec team would like to provide reassurance that the company’s activities will carry on uninterrupted in honour of Stephen.
For those who wish to send a message of condolence, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.