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Touching tributes paid to ‘maverick’ David Rowan who employed hundreds of people in Great Yarmouth

PUBLISHED: 08:12 07 March 2018 | UPDATED: 14:25 07 March 2018

David Rowan, founder and managing director of Epic International in Great Yarmouth, died on February 17. Picture TMS Media.

David Rowan, founder and managing director of Epic International in Great Yarmouth, died on February 17. Picture TMS Media.

Archant

Warm tributes have been paid to the well-known founder of an offshore company who touched hundreds of lives during a career spanning more than 30 years.

David Rowan, the founder and managing director of Epic International, was described by his wife as a “giant of a man” following his death after a short illness at the age of 59.

Mr Rowan had employed hundreds of people on- and offshore all over the world through the company he founded in 2000 in Great Yarmouth, the town which the born-and-bred Hull man adopted as his second home.

The straight-talking Yorkshireman would be remembered for his boundless energy, inventive “out of the box” thinking, professionalism and loyalty to colleagues, employees and clients everywhere, his family and friends said.

His wife of 30 years, Kim, said the family had lost a cherished husband, father and grandfather.

“The offshore industry has lost a highly-intelligent, pragmatic giant of a man, who was a bit of a maverick always looking to improve how the industry he loved worked, staying up through the night to find solutions to problems, ensuring the client on every job received the best service and team,” she said.

“The team will carry on Epic International as a testament to David’s dedication and hard work.”

Starting his career in the Army after school in Hull, Mr Rowan trained as an electrician moving into the oil and gas industry.

He was also a talented artist and photographer, and the walls of Epic International’s offices are decorated with his photographs and watercolours.

Mr Rowan also supported his local community, sponsoring Gorleston Town Football Club and Gorleston Lifeboat, but maintained a home in Hull, where he returned at weekends to watch his beloved Hull City.

He died on February 17, leaving his wife Kim, son and daughter Dane and Naomi, and grandchildren Tigerlily, Sienna, Taylah, Lana and Reo.

Mr Rowan’s Epic colleagues spoke about the “massive contribution” he made to preserving Great Yarmouth’s place as England’s centre for oil and gas.

“Dave would also invest in companies in the area, refusing to spend £1 outside the town unless he absolutely had to on a project,” said Paul Martins, the company’s financial director.

“He was also prepared to speak out on behalf of small to medium-sized businesses (SMEs) in the supply chain when others didn’t. He believed in letting those further up the work chain know the effect the tough times were having on SMEs, the human effect of the downturn offshore.

“He was always looking to do things better and more efficiently.”

Mr Martins recalled a time Mr Rowan was invited to an industry dinner hosted by the Financial Times in Aberdeen in 2016 to represent the voice of the SME.

“When he saw the other names on the list, presidents and vice presidents of giant companies, we thought it might be someone playing a joke but Dave’s place at that table demonstrated the respect his opinion carried at all levels,” Mr Martins said.

At his Vanguard Road business this week, his employees said they had lost a friend as well as a boss.

Mr Martins said: “He was always looking to give someone a start. He left a lasting impression on those who worked with him. Only last year he gave an engineering undergraduate six weeks’ work experience in the summer, giving him his first offshore experience on a platform off Norway. The student wrote to Dave and Gary Brown, Epic operations director, to tell them he had gained a graduate job for when he finished and knew it was the investment that Dave made in him in the summer that put him ahead in his selection process.

“That was the essence of Dave. His kindness and belief in others. He worked hard to keep it in difficult times and keep people employed.”

An event in Mr Rowan’s memory will be hosted at the The Bell, St Olaves near Great Yarmouth on Friday, March 9, at 2.30pm.

• The family has asked for no flowers, but donations to Dove House Hospice and Macmillan Nurses through H Kemp & Son Ltd, Cottingham, HU16 4BG, 01482 844695.

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