Industry associates mourn Martyn Elmy

Jo Francis
Wednesday, October 27, 2021

Friends and former colleagues have paid tribute to Martyn Elmy, who has died aged 65.

Elmy at a PrintIT! event in 2007
Elmy at a PrintIT! event in 2007

Elmy was a well-known industry figure, having spent decades working in print.

He was a proud ‘Son of Suffolk’ and began his career as an apprentice compositor at Clays in Bungay in the early 1970s, and also studied for a City & Guilds in Printing at Norwich City College. 

He went on to join East Anglian pre-press developer Xenotron, which was home to a number of ex-Clays employees. 

After that he worked in technical sales and customer support at MF Graphics/Wright Technologies. 

He met his future business partner Bob Leslie at Xenotron, and the duo later went on to become involved with Centurfax’s sales push. In 1996 they effected a management buy-out at the business, gaining the approval of their respective families to go “all in” on the family finances to achieve the deal. 

Centurfax went on to develop the CCDotmeter, which became a global sales success. 

“We had a great time selling that product all around the world,” Leslie said as he paid tribute to his long-term collaborator. 

“At different times we were like brothers and rivals, while both respecting each other’s contribution –  neither of us would have achieved what we did if not for the other; our careers, families and secrets are completely entwined – we drank together, slept together (shared a room, not a bed!), worked hard together, colluded together – we had huge ups and downs –but like husband and wife we always came back to kiss and make up,” Leslie said. 

“I will miss his banter. He was a proper mate, a decent geezer and I never won an argument with him where it was based on proper logic and fact!”

The Centurfax CCDotmeter was one of the UK designed and developed products awarded Millennium Product status by the Design Council ahead of the year 2000 celebrations, with Leslie and Elmy enjoying a memorable event hosted by Tony Blair at the Millennium Dome as a result. 

Elmy became a Freeman at The Stationers’ Company in 2000.

He was also heavily involved with manufacturers and suppliers association Picon for many years, and was on its council from 2001-2006 and chairman from 2003-2005. 

Picon CEO Bettine Pellant said: “Martyn was instrumental in launching an initiative called PrintIT! which encouraged school children to get involved in the print industry, a theme which continues to be of great importance to Picon. He will be greatly missed by all who knew and worked with him.”

Elmy is pictured standing, third from right, with Picon colleagues

After Elmy and Leslie sold the CCDotmeter IPR to X-Rite, they went on to acquire Marlowe Graphic Services. 

Elmy then moved on to a fresh sales and marketing challenge in 2006 when he joined spray powder and coatings specialist Russell-Webb. 

“I had known him through Picon when he was with Centurfax and knew him to be a very competent, personable man, thoroughly likeable with a great sense of humour. He was always enthusiastic and capable and proved a great addition to the company,” said Tim Webb, who was the firm’s managing director at the time.

“He particularly enjoyed exhibitions that we attended and generally came up with some new ideas to make our stand more effective. He was also extremely resourceful when faced with new challenges. He had a deep passion for all things Suffolk but in particular his beloved Ipswich football club where he was a season ticket holder for very many years.

“He was compassionate for others in need and worked hard to achieve what he wanted. He will be very much missed by his many friends around the world,” Webb added. 

Elmy was also fondly remembered by his customers. 

John Charnock, the former group technical director at St Ives, said: “Martyn and I go back far too many years, I first met him in my early years at St Ives in the mid ’90s when he was working at MF Graphics. He sold us a Jupiter planning station. This was in the early days of desktop publishing, when many businesses were buying Crosfield systems. We believed in the Macs but were not confident to rely entirely on Apple computers and so we installed an Agfa OPI system and the Jupiter workstation (to do the heavy graphic work and prevent us buying another Crosfield) – this became a workhorse within St Ives Roche for many years.  

“Martyn then went to Centurfax and scanner interfaces and we would always meet at industry events. Martyn was an ex-Clays employee and was very proud of his Bungay heritage. His industry involvement was intense and we would often discuss the issues of the day over a beer in Birmingham, Düsseldorf or Harrogate. His jovial demeanour and this deep eastern England voice and his laugh will never be forgotten. 

“He was a true gentleman of the industry, a good friend and he will most definitely be badly missed by all that knew him.”

Elmy had a number of different business interests after stepping back from full-time involvement with print, and in typical humorous style described himself as "semi-required" on his LinkedIn profile. 

He was a debenture holder at Portman Road and watched his beloved Ipswich Town thrash Doncaster 6-0 in late September, but was taken ill shortly afterwards. 

“He was the ultimate Tractor Boy – a proper thick ’n thin supporter – he was thrilled just a few weeks ago to receive a ‘get well’ message from the new Ipswich Town owners – and he deserved it,” Leslie added. 

Elmy died on 26 October after having suffered a bleed on the brain. 

He is survived by his wife Dawn, children James and Frances, and grandchildren Sky, Conor and Joey. 

Elmy was one of eight children, and two sisters Maureen and Margaret also survive him. 

Details about the funeral plans were not available at the time of writing.


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