Q&A: Tim Black Joint managing director, Black & Callow

By Jo Francis, Monday 19 February 2018

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Tim has been in financial printing since 1987, including nearly 24 years at what’s now Black & Callow. He’s married to Julie, and they have two daughers.


Together with Chris Callow he has been joint managing director of Black & Callow since the MBO from Imprima in 2014. Tim tries to stay as fit as possisble - his hobbies include ju-jutsu, and “hitting the gym as often as I can”.

Why did you get into printing? 

By accident. I studied law, but wasn’t keen on pursuing it as a career after university, and every psychometric test directed me to advertising or sales. So I applied for a number of jobs and this one firm, a financial printer called FPC, was the first to offer me a job with a car… the clincher

What is your dream bit of kit?

Something which translates ideas into engaging sales and marketing campaigns without needing too much blood, sweat and tears would be nice 

What is your favourite film? 

Thunderball. Connery at his most urbane, beautiful Nassau location, incredible Bond girls, villain with an eye-patch, explosions galore. Appeals to my inner teenager

Who or what do you hate the most?

Rudeness and lack of courtesy – not to mention pedestrians who are glued to their mobile phones, knocking other pedestrians flying

What is your favourite saying? 

‘It is what it is’. For me it sums up that you just have to be a realist about some things, and take responsibility. Don’t they say that a pessimist is what an optimist calls a realist?

What is the strangest job you’ve ever done?

As a pack-a-day smoker at university, I was paid to take part in Psychology Department clinical experiments around the effects of tobacco on the brain. I gave up smoking nearly 10 years ago, so I’m hoping my brain has recovered since then!

Who would you like to be stuck on a desert island with? 

My wife and family, but if they were unavailable, I’d make an exception for Kate Beckinsale and Monica Bellucci 

Most embarrassing moment?

When I started in financial print, email didn’t exist, so we had to collect copy from clients’ offices, often late in the evening. One night, I was waiting for a taxi for about 45 minutes as I didn’t have a car, conscious that I was keeping the client waiting, when in walked this scruffy guy in a flat cap. Before he could speak, I tore him off a strip for taking so long to turn up. He then announced he was a partner at one of the ‘Magic Circle’ law firms, hoping to handover copy on the biggest deal we had in the business. I’ve never been so embarrassed in my life

What’s your worst fashion disaster? 

I’m not sure it counts as a fashion disaster, but I bought a pair of shoes recently, and one of them has developed an odd clicking sound. I now sound like a pirate with a wooden leg whenever I walk in them…

What is the worst kind of print? 

Anything with poor grammar. I recently saw an advert which contained a business name along the lines of ‘Barrys Baker’s’, which drives me to distraction

What was the best business deal that you’ve pulled off? 

Our MBO of the financial printing business from Imprima in November 2014. It gave Chris Callow and I the autonomy to make our own decisions and steer the company in the right direction to ensure a successful future

Life is…? 

These are not my words, but they sum up my attitude: “A good life is when you smile often, dream big, laugh a lot, and realise how blessed you are for what you have”.

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