Tributes paid to Martin Olive

Jo Francis
Monday, June 22, 2020

Industry associates have paid tribute to former Openshaw managing director and Picon stalwart Martin Olive, who has died aged 76.

Martin Olive: remembered by industry colleagues as "a very intelligent and honourable man"
Martin Olive: remembered by industry colleagues as "a very intelligent and honourable man"

Olive had been living with a form of dementia – nonfluent progressive aphasia – for the past 11 years.

He died of double pneumonia on 13 June.

Olive was a talented linguist and studied French and German at university, after which he worked at ICI and pharmaceutical firm Roussel in international roles, before joining Todmorden-based consumables supplier Openshaw in the early 1970s.

He worked at the firm’s export business and travelled all over the world. Olive became the company’s managing director in the mid-1980s, at a time when the business was growing significantly.

He retired in 2000, but remained active at manufacturer and suppliers’ organisation Picon, where he had been chairman twice.

Olive’s wife Mary said his hobbies included birdwatching, tending to his “huge allotment” and playing bridge.

The couple would have celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary in September.

Martyn Elmy, whose industry career included directorships at Centurfax, Marlowe Graphic Services and Russell-Webb, and who is also a former Picon chairman commented: “Martin travelled the world birdwatching, so as I was brought up near RSPB Minsmere it was an icebreaker in our first meeting.

“As the boss of one of the biggest suppliers companies he opened several doors for my little company. Soon after I became chair of Picon we had a serious financial issue; his guidance, support and friendship was invaluable. All in all, a really nice fella.”

Olive is pictured next to Elmy below, back row second from right, at a Picon event in 2006. 

Tim Webb, the former owner of Russell-Webb and subsequently chairman of RW Coatings, also paid tribute: “Martin was a very intelligent and honourable man. He was principled and fair, we did business with his company, Openshaw's for many years and found him and his company to be tough but honest and straight forward to deal with.

“When he ran Openshaw's it had a worldwide 'blue chip' reputation as one of the key companies in the industry. I knew him from the council of the BFPMS (later Picon) and he was a significant member of council and an excellent chairman twice during the '80s and '90s. He had also been a Chairman of the APMI before I knew him, I believe,” Webb added.

“He was very well respected in the industry and knew many people around the world. His command of Japanese among several other languages led him to form a friendship with the owner of SK Liquid in Japan who was their agent in that area. In a social setting he was warm and good fun and he and Mary were a popular couple.”

Olive is survived by Mary, their two sons Nicholas and Richard, and a grand-daughter who was born on 22 May.

His funeral will be held on 15 July at the Park Wood Crematorium in Elland but attendance will be restricted due to the current guidance on gatherings.

Mary Olive said that her husband's plan to donate his brain to medical research had sadly been thwarted by Covid-19 putting a halt to these activities at the present time.

Donations in his memory can be made to the Manchester Neurological Research Trust Fund via Just Giving.




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