Pub entrepreneur Jim Walsh, who has died aged 69, was the kind of character that leaves a strong impression on all those who were lucky enough to have known him.
A Yorkshireman through and through, he combined tenacity, business acumen and a strong social conscience.
Among his varied business interests, he set up and sold a couple of pub companies as well as overseeing the development and sale of Nucleus Data. But in commercial terms, his success came comparatively late in life.
He returned to the UK in 1989, aged 47, after a couple of unsuccessful years selling pool tables in Portugal with £32,000 of debt and no obvious way to support his wife and four young children. His big break came at the grungy end of the pub trade, running a temporary pub management company.
It was the sort of company that came and often went pretty quickly in the 1990s. But Jim understood the value of money and more particularly that turnover isn't the same as profit.
Quite soon he was running 50 pubs on a temporary basis and was in a position to buy the 34 freeholds he was running for Whitbread, keen to divest itself of pubs in the wake of the Beer Orders. He paid just short of £3m in November 1996, which doesn't sound quite so much when you work out that he was paying £88,000 per pub.
Jim was quick to acknowledge the part that happenstance plays in business. "The timing was brilliant," he once told me. "Don't believe what anyone tells you — luck plays an important part in this life."
But, in truth, Jim was busy making his own luck and in 2001, he sold the Whitbread pubs, and 42 more he'd picked up, to Punch for £19m. In the last 10 years of his life, Jim's business interests expanded enormously with investments in property and media companies as well as new investments in pubs and hotels.
Jim had a large armoury of strong opinions. But he was consistent in treating his tenants and the people who worked for him like family.
His key criterion for buying a pub was whether it would allow a tenant a decent living. And he gave the management of his companies very generous equity stakes in their businesses.
When Nucleus Data was sold in 2007, Jim had actually wanted to keep the business. But he kept a promise that he'd mentioned to me three years before. "Any decision to sell these businesses is the management's not mine." And his word was his bond.
In his latter years, he stepped up his giving to charitable causes, making his trademark application to causes such as the Prince's Trust and Groundwork North Yorkshire.
Jim loved pubs and was passionate about them. He had a restless energy, striving to understand more about this complicated business long after his material success made it unnecessary. (He attended our MA250 seminars until quite recently to keep up to date and may well have been the oldest person in the room.)
He'll be missed.