Whitco’s Jeff Whitaker tragically passes away

Jeff Whitaker founded Whitco with his wife Vita in 1995.

Whitco’s CEO Jeff Whitaker tragically died on Saturday 27 January after a short illness.

His colleagues at the Kettering-based distributor said that he was a man for whom the word hospitality and its industry might have been invented.

However, his first experience with catering was just a means to an end. He became a student at Hull Catering College, and later admitted: “I only trained in catering so that I could join the merchant navy and see the world.”

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Whitco MD Tony Butler said: “His warmth and personality suited the catering industry perfectly. This, combined with an enormous appetite for hard work and a commitment to taking the long-term view (‘Stick at it’ was a favourite mantra), laid the foundation for the growth of the company that he founded with his wife Vita in 1995.

“Jeff’s leadership and approach to management inspired trust among colleagues, employees, suppliers and customers. At the same time, his innovations fuelled the company’s growth and changed industry practices for the better.”

Butler added: “He knew how to extend hospitality to others and, not surprisingly, he enjoyed the company of friends, good food and knew his way around a fine wine list. His loyalty to friends and colleagues alike was boundless. This extended to acts of generosity that often went well beyond the call of duty.

“He is remembered as both a gentle man and a gentleman, possessed of a quiet dignity and a winning smile that seemed to enter the room just before he did.”

Jeff leaves a legacy of a loving family and a business that he built over more than 22 years.

Whitco will make an announcement concerning a service of remembrance in due course. In the meantime, the firm would like to extend its sincere thanks for the many messages of sympathy that it has already received.

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20 Comments

  1. Tim Keating said:

    Absolutely tragic news, i knew Jeff from my time with Hobart and he was always a lovely man and a great person to deal with. My heartfelt condolences to Vita and the family.

  2. Andrew Jones said:

    It was an honour to have known Jeff both in business and as a friend a real Gentleman of the industry.
    All at BI Catering and Cavell Catering send our sincere condolences to Vita and their lovely family at this very sad time.
    Andrew and Alison Jones

  3. Peter H Bywell said:

    I am greatly saddened to hear of Jeff’s passing.
    I held Jeff in very high personal regard both commercially and socially, he was a great stalwart of the Catering Equipment industry and there aren’t many left, he will be sadly missed.

    Peter H Bywell

  4. David Purdie said:

    I am very sad to hear of Jeff’s passing, he was a good friend and was a legend in our industry, my thoughts and all of those at Allsop and Pitts are with Vita, their family and all at Whitco.
    David Purdie

  5. Mike Bridger said:

    Totally agree with everyone, Jeff was a real gentleman, made time for everyone and a real loss to the industry. Condolences to Vita , all the family and the team at Whitco.

  6. Alistair Farquhar said:

    Such sad news. Jeff was a pleasure to work with during my time at Electrolux when I first started as Whitco’s Area sales manager for Electrolux. Such a great loss to the industry. My thoughts go out to Vita and the family.

  7. Bill Moore said:

    Very sad news for Jeff’s family, all at Whitco and the industry in general.
    Only met Jeff at various meetings during the last few years, but he always had a smile and
    was a true gentleman.
    My sincere condolences to vita and family.
    Jeff will be sorely missed by all.

  8. Ajaz Akhtar said:

    Very Very sad to hear of this news. I looked after Jeff for over 20 years as an Area Manager for Foster and he was always a pleasure to deal with. Honourable, tough but fair he taught me so much about business and how it should be conducted in the right way. He was a true legend of the industry and a personal friend to me. My heart goes out to Vita and all the family at this tough time. I’m sure The Big J will be looking over them and feel very proud of the great business and wonderful family he left behind. RIP sir. Ajaz Caterfix

  9. Ron Neville said:

    My sincere condolences to Vita and her family and all at Whitco. Our thoughts are with you at this difficult time.
    From all at CHR Equipment

  10. John Whitehouse said:

    Its so sad to hear the news, Having shared many special events with Jeff over the years, I will truly miss him. Jeff was a real gentleman and industry giant. Our thoughts and sincere condolences go out to Vita and family.

    John & Denise Whitehouse

  11. Doug Walker said:

    Very sad news – Jeff was a gentleman in every sense of the word – refreshingly honest and straightforward, he will be sadly missed. My sympathy to Vita, his family and all at Whitco

  12. Graham Harrison said:

    So very saddened to hear the news of Jeff’s death
    All thoughts with Vita and his family .A great loss of a True Gentleman of our Industry
    All at ABM send condolences to Family and his Staff

  13. Lloyd Vivier said:

    I met Jeff on a few occasions when we were pitching for the same business mostly in and around the Northampton area and he was always friendly, professional and an all round nice guy. Tragic loss for his family and the industry as a whole. Condolences to all the family and friends.

    R.I.P Jeff

  14. Phil Coulstock said:

    From everyone at Smeg we send our sincere condolences to Vita, her family and all at Whitco on the terribly sad news regarding Jeff this week – our thoughts are with everyone at this difficult time.

  15. Paul Anderson said:

    Such a sad loss and such a true gent with whom I had much banter with over many years. He will be sorely missed by many, and on behalf of all from Meiko we send condolences to Vita and family at this pressing time.

  16. Darren Lockley said:

    A very sad loss for all. Gentleman seems to be the word best to describe Jeff by all in our industry, I could not agree more. He will be missed by all. Our thoughts are with Vita and family and all at Whitco at this very sad time.

  17. Peter Jackson said:

    Very sad news, I would like to pass on my condolences to his family, Vita, Francesca and Izzie and all at the “office”. He made doing business easy.

  18. Steven lamb said:

    Very sad news to hear that Jeff has passed away. I had only met with him on a few occasions but it was enough to realise what a genuine and dedicated man he was. I asked him for a reference regarding a company that I had agreed to work for. He was disappointed that hadn’t considered joining Whitco but told me that if things didn’t work out for me to come back to him. I always remembered that. RIP my friend.

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