Family, friends and business community mourn Edinburgh's Tom Flockhart

Prominent entrepreneur Tom Flockhart who has died at the age of 73 was behind a business which has dominated Scotland’s office equipment sector for over 40 years.

By Stephen Wilkie
Wednesday, 4th May 2022, 12:09 pm
Updated Wednesday, 4th May 2022, 12:46 pm

The father-of-four lost a short battle with cancer leaving his family, friends and colleagues in mourning. He is survived by his four children Pamela, Stuart, Neil and Lynsey, seven grandchildren, and his partner Mandy.

Tom was proud of his modest roots as an adopted child growing up in a council house in Prestonpans, East Lothian. He credited his upbringing and his school years at Preston Lodge High School with giving him the drive to go on and build his successful business empire – Capital Documents Solutions – the company he founded in 1979.

The keen angler was also passionate about the arts in Scotland, actively supporting the Royal Scottish National Orchestra, Edinburgh International Festival, Scottish Opera, and the Scottish Chamber Orchestra.

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Tom Flockhart celebrates the 40th anniversary of the company he created in 1979, Capital Document Solutions

Lynn Harrison, Tom’s PA for the past 17-years, said: “We are all in shock. To describe him as larger than life doesn’t do him justice. He was passionate, driven and once you met him, you certainly couldn’t forget him.”

From a young age Tom showed an entrepreneurial streak, working schoolboy jobs including gardening, paper rounds, fixing up old bikes and even selling sweets and haircuts to the other children in school.

He went on to complete an apprenticeship at Ferranti and gained an HND in Mechanical Engineering and would often jokingly recall how during his apprenticeship he was given his most important career advice when his boss advised him to get a job in sales. In 1970, he took that advice, securing a role with 3M selling photocopiers.

By the age of 30 he had been 3M’s top copier salesman in the UK for three successive years and was determined to strike out on his own. Using part of the proceeds from a house sale, he set up his own business, initially called Capital Copying Services in a small office in Montrose Terrace, Edinburgh.

How it all began: Edinburgh entrepreneur Tom Flockhart, pictured as a primary school pupil in the late 1950s

As it grew over 43 years from just three staff to over 200 employees, the firm’s name changed a few times to reflect the changes in the market and the wider range of products and services the business was providing whilst always staying true to the three founding principles.

Tom had a deep love for the company he built and the welfare and success of those who worked in it, and Capital Document Solutions is now Scotland’s largest independent supplier of office technology and a major employer with bases in Edinburgh, Glasgow, Dundee, Aberdeen, Inverness, and Lerwick in the Shetland Islands.

In the 1990s, Tom also played a huge role in cleaning up the office equipment sector which was rife with bad practice and customer dissatisfaction. He worked with Edinburgh MP Nigel Griffiths to expose a major scam in the copier sector, which led to sweeping finance and leasing reforms and gave greater control and clarity to customers.

Lynn said “He was working right up until the end, still going over documents and putting in his thoughts and ideas for a Scottish Government tender.”

Tom Flockhart (seated, centre) with his team shortly after the launch of Capttal Copiers in Edinburgh in 1979

Tom’s funeral will be held at Warriston Crematorium at 12pm on Tuesday May 10, followed by a celebration of his life at Prestonfield House Hotel from 2pm. Family flowers only.