Etrinsic founder Davies dies

By Max Goldbart, Friday 06 May 2016

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Much-loved print company director and father of two Colin Davies has passed away aged 75.

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Davies had a love for all things technological

Davies died of complications related to his Parkinson’s disease in Solihull Hospital on Tuesday, 19 April. He is survived by his wife Linda Pfeifle and two children Craig and Stephen.

Davies was born on 8 November 1940 in Pelsall, West Midlands. He got his first job in the coal mines aged 16 in Rugeley, Staffordshire, where he was a pit pony driver. He attained a degree in electrical engineering while working in Rugeley, and, according to his wife, developed a love for all things technological. 

He left the mines and formed his first printing company, Standard Continuous Print, in 1970, after reading an article about how to make extra money selling bingo tickets.

Standard Continuous Print sold black and white business forms and listing paper, mainly specialising in green list paper during the early days of the commercialisation of recycled paper. Standard Continuous had one of the first Xenotron desktop publishing systems and a scanner that cost £80,000.

The development and changing nature of his companies was a sign of Davies' love for technology and a desire to always move forward. In 1989, he turned Standard Continuous into Forms UK. Forms UK represented a break into the marketing and colour print world, which according to Davies’ son Craig was sparked by his father’s excitement of the purchase of a new Mac.

Forms UK became Etrinsic in 1995. Etrinsic mainly specialised in data processing and direct mail before it was sold first internally in 2008 and then bought out entirely by print management and marketing business Innerworkings in 2010.

According to his lifelong colleague and friend Sandie Matthews, Etrinsic was named after Davies set his employees a task to come up with the best new name for the company. 

Matthews said: “In 1979 when I started, he had a vision to have a totally bespoke computer system, so I started working on that with him. We spent hours together pouring over charts in his kitchen at home, coming up with ideas for the new computer system. He said: ‘Forget all this fancy programming jargon, what I want is a system that will actually mirror what I do’." 

Davies was with Etrinsic until his retirement, in part due to his Parkinson’s disease, which came in 2008. 

Davies’ son Craig, who joined his father's company in the Forms UK days, said: “He was still coming round the company back then, just to see his friends. He used to love coming round, seeing how everything was progressing. He still had a big interest in people.”

Matthews added: “He always used to joke whenever we went anywhere that he wasn’t an ‘ordinary person’. It was never said seriously. When he finally retired we were talking on the phone one day and he said: ‘I’m having such problems remembering how to be an ordinary person’. But as for all the people I’ve ever known ordinary was something you could never call him. He was an extraordinary character.”

Davies met Pfeifle at a printing conference in New Orleans in 1991, after she had seen him speak at a conference six months earlier. They were married in 2004 in Las Vegas and bought a home there, in which they lived for half of the year until two years ago when Davies’ Parkinsons worsened and they settled back permanently in Solihull. 

Pfeifle said: "Colin brought innovation and vision to the world of printing. Quick to recognise how the rapid advance of technology would change the industry, he saw and implemented new ideas with enthusiasm and success."

She added: "Immensely popular and generous, he enriched our world."

Davies’ funeral will take place at  St Alphege Church, Solihull, on Monday (9 May) at 1pm. All family and friends are welcome to attend. In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to Parkinsons UK and a tribute page has been set up in his memory at http://colin-davies.muchloved.com/.

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