Scotsman obituaries: Tom Flockhart, entrepreneur and patron of the arts

Tom Flockhart, a prominent entrepreneur behind the company that dominated Scotland’s office equipment industry for more than 40 years, has died aged 73.

An incredibly charismatic character, Tom was proud of his humble roots as an adopted child who grew up in a council house in Prestonpans, East Lothian. He credits his upbringing and his years at Preston Lodge Secondary School with the urge to build his successful business empire – Capital Documents Solutions – the company he founded in 1979.

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He always gave 100% in everything he did and, as well as being dedicated to his business, Tom was extremely proud and passionate about his family, friends, the arts and Scotland.

Tom Flockhart: ‘passionate, driven and once you met him you certainly couldn’t forget him’

From family holidays with all his children and grandchildren in Mull and Kingussie, to sailing trips with friends on the west coast and fishing on the North Esk and Spey, he has always made time for the people and his energy, enthusiasm and love of life were infectious.

Fishing was a great passion for him and he excelled at it. With many parallels to his professional life, he clung to it even under the most adverse conditions and when others gave up, he finally succeeded.

He was also generous in his philanthropic activities, both financially and through the vast network of relationships he was willing to share, but kept a low profile in his support of numerous projects and causes over the decades. He was passionate about the arts in Scotland, actively supporting the Royal Scottish National Orchestra, the Edinburgh International Festival, Scottish Opera and the Scottish Chamber Orchestra for many years.

Lynn Harrison, Tom’s PA of 17 years, said: “We are all in shock. To describe it as larger than life does not do it justice. He was passionate, driven and once you met him you certainly couldn’t forget him.

From an early age, Tom showed an entrepreneurial spirit, working schoolboy jobs including gardening, paper rounds, fixing old bikes and even selling candy and haircuts to children. other school children.

He did an apprenticeship and earned an HND in Mechanical Engineering at Ferranti. There, Tom received his most important career advice when his boss told him to get a job in sales. In 1970, he took that advice, getting a role at 3M selling their photocopiers.

A naturally gifted salesman, by the age of 30 he had been 3M’s top copier salesman in the UK for three consecutive years and was determined to strike out on his own. Using some of the proceeds from the sale of a house, he set up his own business, initially called Capital Copying Services, out of a small office in Montrose Terrace, Edinburgh and based on three constant principles – “best products, best advice and the best after-sales service and support”.

As it has grown in 43 years from just three employees to over 200 employees, the company name has changed a few times to reflect market changes and the wider range of products and services provided by the company. , while remaining faithful to the three founding principles.

Tom had a deep love for the business he built and for the well-being and success of those who worked there, and Capital Document Solutions is now Scotland’s largest independent office technology provider and employer. major, with bases in Edinburgh, Glasgow, Dundee, Aberdeen, Inverness and Lerwick in the Shetland Islands.

He didn’t think about getting up at 5 a.m., driving to Inverness, working a full day there with the team, and then flying back to Edinburgh at night. People asked why he wasn’t slowing down, but it wasn’t him.

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Lynn said: “He worked to the end, always going through documents and contributing his thoughts and ideas for a Scottish Government tender.” These tender documents were part of the company’s work on the Scottish Supply Framework Agreement for office equipment – which only came to fruition in 2009 after intensive lobbying by Tom . It demonstrated how Scotland-based companies were unable to bid for public sector contracts, which led to significant change by the Scottish government.

Previously, in the 1990s, it also played a huge role in cleaning up the office equipment industry, plagued by bad practices and customer dissatisfaction. Tom worked with Edinburgh MP Nigel Griffiths to expose a major scam in the photocopier industry, which led to sweeping finance and leasing reforms and gave customers more control and clarity.

Lynn added: “For all these reasons, even competitors are saddened by his loss as no one can fail to respect what he has done for the entire industry.”

His legacy is his passion for integrity and quality, which was instilled in his family, and the culture of Capital.

Lynn said: “Tom was a remarkable man and was dedicated to sharing his knowledge, his ideas and what he learned. Whether it’s networking with business leaders, returning to Preston Lodge to lecture to students, or running trainings for new salespeople, he’s been incredibly generous in giving his time and sharing his experiences. He never held back because he wanted people to get along, to have the tools to improve. He was never jealous or blamed others for their success – he truly admired successful people. He was an exceptional motivator who helped shape the lives of so many people in so many ways. »

Tom passed away after a short battle with cancer. He is survived by his four children Pamela, Stuart, Neil and Lynsey, seven grandchildren and his partner Mandy.

Tom’s funeral takes place at Warriston Crematorium at midday on Tuesday May 10, followed by a celebration of his life at Prestonfield House Hotel from 2pm. Family flowers only.

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