AN electronics firm founder and former owner has died, aged 66.

Rod Taylor, the ex-managing director of the Seaward Group, passed away after a three-year battle with cancer.

Born in Kenya to Scottish parents, Mr Taylor returned to the UK in the early 1960s to settle in the North-East.

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A chartered engineer, with a degree in electronic engineering, he spent his early career with roles in engineering and marketing, initially working for Aquatronics before taking up a position with the American company Sperry Rand.

A natural entrepreneur, he began to branch out with his own instrumentation products, which in the very early years often involved selling test equipment he had designed during the morning and assembled in the afternoon.

With the support of his father, Mr Taylor, in 1982, started Seaward Electronic and set up operations in Peterlee, east Durham, building a company known for supplying test and measurement equipment to electricity boards, power companies and public utilities.

Successful export sales became a growing feature of the business, with product sales into more than 60 countries leading to a Queens Award for Export in 2013.

In a statement, his family described Mr Taylor as a “true gentleman and committed family man.”

Andrew Upton, Seaward’s current managing director, said Mr Taylor, who was awarded an MBE for services to industry in 2009, will be missed by everyone at the company and the wider North-East business community.

He added: “Rod was well-loved and is fondly remembered by the Seaward staff who worked with him, as well as by those in our distribution network and supply chain.

“It is due to his entrepreneurship, forward-thinking, hard work and diligence that Seaward is where it is today – leading the field internationally in biomedical engineering, renewable energy and health and safety testing and measurement.”

Mr Taylor is survived by wife Rosemary, son Russell and daughters Frances and Jennifer.

His funeral will be held on Friday, February 9 at 1.30pm in Holy Cross Church, Swainby, North Yorkshire.