Tony Little – who died on April 13 – was known throughout the world of converting and packaging machinery. His funeral and reception afterwards in his home village of St Mary Bourne, UK, saw hundreds of his friends from many walks of life pay their respects to the witty and charming man who had lived and breathed packaging and converting engineering through his companies RA Jenton and Jenton International since the early 70s.
He sold his first packaging machine in 1956, when he started working for the Charles Douglas company, and was still selling converting equipment up to a few months before his death. Always an enthusiastic (and tenacious!) salesman and innovator, the early years were spent teaching the market the value of wrapping in plastics films. On one memorable occasion in the early sixties Tony (together with the great Magnus Pyke) gave a presentation to the Union of British Bakers. He was criticized at their annual meeting for making the ridiculous suggestion that the UK market would change from buying bread in waxed paper to plastics bags!
Tony built up machinery agencies with a number of overseas principals and in 1973 started RA Jenton. Today the company still represents some of the same companies it did in 1973 and now deals with the sons and even granddaughter of the men that Tony shook hands with in the beginning. Agencies in the converting field include Accustrip, Dec-E-Tech, Imer, Opti-Color, Amplas and Park-Air. Through Tony, Jenton is a founder member of the Packaging and Processing Machinery Association, which presented its lifetime achievement award to him last year. Paying tribute, general secretary Andrew Manly said: “Tony was one of those special people who combined technical ability with charm and good manners. The industry has lost one of its true gentlemen.”
Many people in the business over many years, including myself, always looked forward to a friendly word with Tony and frequently benefited from his helpful advice. This message, for example, was sent from EMG Elektro Mechanik, Wenden, and BST International, of Bielefeld, Germany, for publication in Converting Today: “Full of consternation, we received the sad message that our dear friend and business partner Tony Little died shortly after his 75th birthday on April 13. He always was a fair partner and fatherly friend. His death leaves us in deep mourning and with great emptiness. We will miss him very much. Our thoughts are for his relatives. We wish you strength and confidence.”
Tony is survived by his wife Jenny, son Richard (managing director of Jenton) and daughter Peni.