Intelligent Finishing Systems (IFS) has confirmed the death of its former chairman and managing director Tony Hards. 

Current IFS managing director Eric Keane has shared the following obituary:

We are very sad to learn of the passing of Tony Hards, former Chairman and Managing Director of Intelligent Finishing Systems (IFS) and Graphic Arts Equipment (GAE). Tony passed away aged 84 after a short illness.

Tony’s long association with IFS dates from 1965 when he joined our forerunner company Graphic Arts Equipment (GAE) as an Area Sales Representative. Tony oversaw the successful growth of GAE / IFS to become one of the leading suppliers in the UK printing industry. Obituary

Tony possessed a dogged, never-give-up approach to business and this, along with his intellect, quit wit, enquiring mind, sense of urgency and ability to see an opportunity, enabled him to quickly become established in GAE in the 1960s as the best salesperson in the company. These traits served him well in his journey over the decades with our business, all of which brought much corporate and personal success his way and when he moved into senior management in the mid-1980s the company went from strength to strength, which eventually led to Tony acquiring the ownership of the company, in partnership with long-term business partner Bryan Godwyn.

Tony was very much a ‘disrupter’ in the printing machinery market and simply loved the challenge of bringing into the market many new product ranges, new innovations and working to establish a foothold for those brands, often against the fiercest competition from established brands. The most successful of these introductions being Horizon. Tony secured the agency for Horizon Print Finishing products in 1981 and established their products as UK market leaders.

I first met Tony in 1980 when I joined GAE as a young salesman. Tony was great mentor, he taught me so much about the business, all of which served me well over the decades in several successful business ventures. Tony was great at spotting talent and so many current and former colleagues enjoyed their time in successful careers working under Tony’s direction.

During his career with IFS/GAE Tony built up a massive network of relationships with suppliers, manufacturers and customers and became one of the best known ‘characters’ in the commercial print sector and machinery supply side, in particular. Tony was an active leading light in Picon and had a long association with the BPIF. Tony was an acclaimed golfer, a former non-league footballer and a passionate follower of Tottenham Hotspur.

Tony’s life-long contribution to the printing industry was recognised in 2012 when he was awarded the title of Liveryman of The Worshipful Company of Stationers and Newspapermakers.

Tony will be missed very much by his family, friends, associates, former colleagues and everyone that knew him.

R I P  Tony Hards

Mr Hards was also well-known to many current and former directors and staff at Whitmar Publications.