A PIONEERING businessman has received a lifetime achievement award for his services to industry.
For Dennis Coppola, founder of Leith-based electrical wholesalers Scott Coppola, people have always been at the heart of his business.
Whether he was flying his staff out to Tenerife for a Christmas holiday or handing over the reins of his business to his two sons Darren and Dean, 67-year-old Dennis has always put others first.
He started his working life while still a schoolboy by helping his dad at the now-defunct family cafe in Meadowbank as well as his uncle’s fish and chip shop in Leith Walk.
His first appointment in the electrical industry came with the city’s Sinclair, Campbell and Kinghorn in 1967 but he soon realised he had a brain for business and decided to strike out on his own.
He then went on to set up Scott Coppola in 1982 with his friend Jim Scott. Although the first sales were from the garage of his family home in Newcraighall Road, Dennis still managed to notch up an impressive £1.1 million turnover in his first year of business.
The family-run firm won the MK Wholesaler of the Year award for ten years in a row – and were once outright winners for the whole of the UK.
Scott Coppola was also one of the first distributors to open its doors at 7.30am, the first to really invest in always having a fully-stocked trade counter and to open a café on its premises.
Modest Dennis said: “The success was down to the staff and the customers that supported me and the suppliers that helped me as well.”
To honour his pioneering approach as an electrical distributor, Dennis was awarded a Lifetime Achievement award on Friday at a prestigious ceremony in Glasgow hosted by SELECT, the campaigning trade body.
He was presented with his award to the tune of Monty Python’s Always Look on the Bright Side of Life – the motto on his distinctive yellow vans.
Newell McGuiness, SELECT managing director, said: “When Dennis’ sons Darren and Dean broke the news to him that he was going to be honoured tonight, his typically modest reaction was to say ‘It’s not about me – it’s the staff who make this business a success’.”
Dennis took a step back from the business in 2006 and handed over control to his sons Darren, 41, and Dean 44.
He now has more time to spend with his family, including his four grandchildren, as well as to watch Hearts play – a team he has supported since boyhood.
But his great passion is racehorses, spending many hours at the track at Musselburgh or Kelso.
Dennis owns a number of runners along with his wife Margaret, whom he has been married to for 45 years.
He has previously sponsored races such as the novice chase at Kelso Racecourse, in the Borders.