John Twallin, joint founder of Toolbank and former chairman of its parent company Dormole, died on Saturday December 14. He was 86.

“Although he had not been in particularly good health recently, he still retained a tremendous interest in the business and all the people in it, and he will be very sadly missed by everyone who knew him,” said Andrew Strong, who succeeded him as Dormole Chairman.

Together with Arthur Clemson, his former colleague at Buck & Hickman, John Twallin founded CA Clemson & Sons in Birmingham in 1972, while simultaneously working as a non-executive director of Curtis Holt in Kent.

Soon afterwards Dormole was created to acquire Curtis Holt, and from the 1980s the two companies traded jointly under the Toolbank name, expanding to become the UK & Ireland’s leading distributor through a mix of new branch openings and investments.

Other Dormole investments include Olympia Tools, Forgefix, Biz Power Tools, Denuziere in France, and most recently the Irish distributors Tucks O’Brien and Tucks Fasteners & Fixings.

“He was a real buccaneer in the industry, overseeing the launch of many new initiatives which contributed to our success,” said Strong. “He remained passionately interested in the fortunes of our customers and suppliers, and the welfare of those who worked in the business.

“Although he was a driven and challenging entrepreneur, he was respected by all who met him, and it is a testimony to his core values of integrity and dedication that we have so many long-standing business relationships and that so many members of our team have worked with us for so long. He really did care.”

In addition to his business interests, Mr Twallin also committed time to a number of charities, including the Rainy Day Trust, and Sir Robert Geffery’s School through his association with the Worshipful Company of Ironmongers, of which he had previously been the Master.

“He drove us on at times when the odds seemed insurmountable because he believed so strongly in the business and the team that he had built,” added Strong. “We were very lucky to have found such a caring and committed boss for whom to work.”

Twallin is survived by his wife Elizabeth, his daughters Frances, Catherine, Philippa and Alex, and their families. Funeral arrangements will be announced in due course.