7 March 1971 – 16th April 2018
Devoted husband and father, marketing agency founder and leader.
Kyle Hardie, Managing Director of The Union Advertising Agency, and founder and Managing Director of sales promotion agency Union Connect, passed away after a brave fight with cancer having achieved success in the industry he loved. The tragedy is that, at only 47 years old, he had so much more still to achieve.
Kyle hailed from Ayrshire. He attended Prestwick Academy and studied Marketing at Stirling University, graduating in 1993.
His home was close to many famous golf courses, thus it was perhaps natural that golf would become his sporting passion. He was no ordinary golfer, playing with an effortless swing and a lovely touch around the greens. A member of Prestwick St Cuthbert Golf Club, he was coached by his father and grandfather from the age of four and was soon winning Junior Club Championships. (His handicap was 3 by the time he was 15.)
There’s no doubt that the competitive and focused edge that would come to characterise so much of his time in business was honed by his approach to sport as a young man. He was also a talented goalkeeper for his school team and captain of the Stirling University hockey 2nd XI. He was, in all he did, a perfectionist, in the best sense of the word.
After University he had a short spell as an estate agent before joining Blue-Chip Marketing in Edinburgh as a Junior Account Executive in 1995. It’s a fair assessment to say that from that moment onwards Kyle never looked back. He applied himself with energy and passion to his work and by the time he was in his early 30s he was leading the company as Managing Director. His clients included Warburtons, Highland Spring, Reebok, and VisitScotland.
In 2003 he married Alison Irving, and their daughter Ailsa was born in 2006. Despite his focus and success in business and on the golf course, there was never any question that his family was always his number one priority.
In 2007, still a young man, Kyle decided to make the bold move to set up his own business. He teamed up with The Union in Edinburgh to start a specialist promotional and field marketing agency, Union Connect, ably assisted by a colleague from Blue-Chip, Claire Prentice. The new agency quickly expanded and grew profitably, working with clients such as Scottish Government, Whyte & Mackay, Matthew Algie and Weir Group. Today the agency he founded is one of the leading companies in its sector in Scotland. Right to the end, it was his ‘baby’ – he was reviewing tenders and advising staff and colleagues from his hospital bed. It is indeed poignant that he passed away on the 11th anniversary, to the day, of the start of Union Connect.
The launch of Union Connect in 2007. Kyle (right), with colleague Claire Prentice and Union Chairman Ian McAteer.
Such was his success in running Union Connect that in 2013 he was asked to take over the running of The Union as Managing Director when Ian McAteer stepped into the role of Chairman.
The Union thrived under Kyle’s leadership. The agency was named Agency of the Year in 2015 and again in 2017. It won awards, pitches, new projects and attracted outstanding talent.
Kyle had energy, drive and focus. His natural charm, ready smile, and warm personality made him a natural account man. His intelligence and insight meant that he really got to the essence of the client’s marketing challenge – and his competitive streak meant that he always gave every project 100%. Fellow directors will attest to his work-rate and his ability to multi-task. He left his mark on many client brands – there is no question that he contributed to the success of many businesses he worked with.
Kyle took a special interest in nurturing and mentoring young account handlers – many who have gone on to success in Scotland, England and further afield. He was fiercely egalitarian – always keen to make sure that everyone, from any background, had an equal opportunity to get ahead in the industry.
He worked tirelessly for the industry, serving on both the IPA and Marketing Society committees in Scotland. He was recognised by his peers in 2017 with the accolade of Fellow of the Marketing Society. (Sadly he was not able to be there to collect the award in person, Alison did so on his behalf.)
Kyle at the Marketing Star Awards in June 2017. The Union had just been named Agency of the Year.
Alison and Ailsa may have a sense of the success he achieved, but they will not fully understand just how many lives he touched through his work. The sheer volume of good wishes and memories on social media is a testament to the many young people he helped.
In the last few years, Kyle moved with his family to North Berwick to a lovely new home. Here, with his daughter settled at school, the family near to friends and part of the local community, he was obviously happy and full of optimism. The abundance of top golf courses on his doorstep was the icing on the cake. He could be found striding out on the greens most weekends, come rain, come shine.
Kyle was genuine, friendly, caring and always kind, which is why he made so many friends in his business life. Many tributes have described him as a true ‘gent’. He had integrity and decency and consciously strived to be a good leader. He achieved success not just through his talent and warm personality, but also because he drove himself on relentlessly, never settling for second best. It’s a cliché – but he really was one of a kind.
All of us at The Union are in debt to him. He is missed dreadfully, but will never be forgotten.
Kyle’s funeral will be on Friday April 27th 2018 at Mortonhall Crematorium at 10am with the reception to follow at the Glen Golf Club in North Berwick. Family flowers only please, charitable donations to St Columba’s Hospice.