Stuart Miller, the much respected and popular boss of trade distributor CI Sport, a dedicated lifelong motocrosser who never saw himself as a trade baron, died at the Royal Surrey County Hospital on 3 July after a 10-month battle with bone marrow cancer. He was 68.
Shunning publicity and personal acclaim, Stuart was a private man and an astute businessman with an impish sense of fun. When asked to comment on the ups and downs of the off-road industry, he would always say with that smile: “I don’t bloody know, why ask me?” Then, without embellishment, he would tell it like it is.
While we mourn Stuart’s passing, his legacy lives on. CI Sport, distributing Alpinestars, DEP systems, Troy Lee, Oakley and other major brands, is looking to the future under Stuart’s wife Linda, who has been joined by their daughter Carly. It’s a new move for Carly, but both have the backing of 14 enthusiastic staff, many of whom have worked at CI Sport for more than two decades.
CI Sport has the most revered of pedigrees. Stuart joined Comerfords in Thames Ditton, Surrey as a junior salesman and ended up helping to run the company. Established in 1925, by the 1970s Comerfords was the biggest off-road dealer in Europe. An importer of KTM and Bultaco, virtually every top British and European rider of the day either passed through or worked there, including Finn Yrjio Vesterinen (Vesty), three-time world trials champion.
Lifelong friend Derek Ellwell remembers: “Even in those early days he sensed changing trends and had a lovely way with people and he always got it right. He could sell – and that included bikes to Johnny Cash and Steve McQueen.”
By the mid-80s, Don Howlett and Stuart effected a buyout and a change of direction to concentrate only on clothing and accessories distribution, along with change of name to CI (Comerfords International) Sport. Says Sammy Doble of MD Racing: “Stuart has made a massive contribution to both the industry and the sport. As well as rider and event sponsorship, he helped fund the dirt bike show for 13 years. On the face of it, it was five rival off-road companies that put the money up, but we were/are all passionate about the sport and Stuart could always see the big picture.”
Derek Elwell’s son Craig, now 44, who did his work experience at Comerfords, recalls: “They thought my old man and Stuart were brothers so he’s been here all my life. He was a great bloke. He could ride a bike, ski and was an ace on a snowboard. He was fun to be with – we’ll miss him.”
Stuart leaves a wife and daughter and two granddaughters and it is to be a family funeral.
There is to be a celebration of his life on Wednesday 18 July at the Burford Bridge Hotel at the foot of Box Hill, Surrey RH5 6BX (behind Ryka’s Café). Photo boards and readings from 12 noon. Email: [email protected] Tel: 01272 378000.
R.I.P. Stuart, a big loss on the track and in business. If there ever has been a gentlemen in the off-road trade, Stuart was exactly that. He has always been one of my competitors but I have always had the upmost respect for him and the way he conducted himself (that’s on the track and at the coalface).
Condolences to the family and to his close friend Derek.
Bill Brown, Wulfsport