Steven Whitford, founder of family-run Plymouth print and direct mail firm Pepper, has died aged 65.
Whitford passed away peacefully at home on 23 January after a three-year battle with cancer.
Born on 6 August 1950, Whitford started his working life in the clothing industry in Essex and then moved onto metal tube manufacturer Fine Tubes in Plymouth.
From there he progressed into insurance sales before deciding to start a printing company after seeing a gap in the market.
Pepper was established in 1982 and Whitford grew the firm’s turnover from £20,000 to just under £6m, steering the business through multiple recessions.
He also expanded the company's services from the production of stationery and business documents into direct mail and printing brochures and catalogues. In his later years Whitford had retired from the business but was still involved.
Whitford is survived by his wife Victoria, who he was married to for nearly 34 years, and his sons Jude, Seth, Jake and Saul, who are continuing to run Pepper as managing director, sales director, production director and director of digital respectively.
Jake Whitford paid tribute to his father: “Dad can be defined in part I think by his sense of honour and his understanding of right and wrong. He was fiercely loyal to his family and friends, loyal to the business and loyal to the values that he learned from his parents.
“One of the main things that dad will be remembered for is his phenomenal showering of love and generosity throughout life and his constant drive to want to create security for the family, always treating mum and us boys before even thinking about treating himself.
“Dad has always striven to be fair above all, sometimes he was, sometimes maybe he wasn’t but he always tried. These same character traits are ones that all us brothers have learned and inherited with pride.
“We will continue the business on into the next generation instilling the same core values and business sense he has shown us along the way.”
Others in the industry also paid tribute to Whitford. Pureprint chief operating officer Anthony Thirlby said: “So sorry to hear this most devastating news, however I will keep the hugely positive memories I have of Steve. A truly brilliant man.”
Antalis UK regional sales manager Gary Westcott said: “I will remember Steve very fondly, as one of the nicest and most honest people I have had the pleasure of dealing with in my near 40 years in the trade.”
Outside of print Whitford was “a true armchair sports fan” and enjoyed playing cricket and rugby in his younger days and watching these as well as a range of other sports throughout his life.
Whitford’s funeral will be held at 3.30pm on Friday 5 February at Glynn Valley Crematorium in Bodmin. All family, friends and colleagues are welcome to attend.
Flowers or donations for Cancer Research UK may be sent courtesy of Morris Bros, Lakeside, Tavistock PL19 0AZ.