21 June 2020 People

Former Picon chairman Olive dies

Martin Olive, managing director of Openshaw, and twice chairman of Picon has died.

Martin Olive, managing director of Openshaws and two times chairman of Picon, has died aged 76.

Olive ran what was then one of the largest specialist suppliers of consumables for litho printing in the UK, selling films, blankets, plates and sundries at the height of the litho era. The business was proudly based in Todmorden where Olive’s office overlooked the canal.

He served two terms as chairman of the association, representing the interests of companies supplying machinery and consumables to the printing industry. The first was in 1993-95 at a time that Picon was created by the merger of the British Paper Machinery Makers Association and the British Federation of Print Machinery and Supplies. Picon was less of a mouthful to swallow. He again took on the role in 1997 serving until 1998 after the chairman at the time resigned.

Olive was of the affable variety of Yorkshiremen, with a strong belief that once agreement had been reached then that deal would be adhered to.

“He was a very honourable man,” says former Picon chief executive Tim Webb. “Always straightforward, always honest. But also no fool and tough when he needed to be and then always did what he said he was going to do.”

Olive had studied languages at Durham University and was able to converse with a number of suppliers in their own tongue, Japanese included. As well as trading in consumables, Olive led Openshaws into blanket conversion on site, one of the first to do this and so provide a bespoke service to customers.

Openshaw took on the Russell Webb spray powder after a chance meeting between Olive and Webb in a Tokyo bar. “He became our biggest customer,” Webb recalls.

Openshaw was likewise one of the largest distributors for Agfa films and plates. Laurence Roberts, then managing director of Agfa’s UK graphic arts business, remembers Olive as committed to Picon, making the journey from Todmodern to Godalming for board meetings. “As managing director of Openshaw, he was our second largest customer in the UK. He was straight without being hard to do business with.”

He was also a thorough Yorkshireman, says Roberts. “He invited me to Todmorden to stay the night. The next morning we visited Todmorden market where there were stalls selling bric a brac and stuff that needed repairing. I pointed out that this would be thrown away in the south. ‘But this is Yorkshire. Up here was waste nowt’.”

Openshaw was merged with Woltensholme Rink and then in July 2000, Olive retired. In recent years he suffered ill health, absent from the Picon 100th anniversary celebratory lunch last year. He died on 13 June of double pneumonia, survived by Mary, his wife.

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Martin Olive (standing, second from right) served as chairman of Picon on two occasions. He had built Openshaw into one of the leading consumables suppliers to industry and led the Yorkshire business into the arms of Lancashire based Wolstenholme Rink.

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