Laser Transport International chairman John Smith, 83, has died after a short battle with cancer.

Smith, who attended Harvey Grammar School in Folkestone, ultimately studied and passed the Institute of Freight Forwarders examinations.

He then worked for LEP Livestock in its Folkestone office, before going on to be office manager of LEP Dover in the early 1970s.

In 1973 Smith saw an opportunity in the market and started Laser Transport International in Dover.

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In addition to customs clearance, the company had interests in the automotive sector, arranging the importation of new cars from Europe via dedicated trains to Calais.

John Smith resized

John Smith

The company expanded rapidly and soon developed a distribution fleet requiring larger premises, first in Dover and latterly at Lympne, near Folkestone, which is now the firm’s head office.

During this period Smith started a small groupage operation that eventually grew to be the core business of the company.

Laser Transport International paid tribute to its former boss in statement that said: "John was a respected figure in the industry, regarded as a leader and gentleman by customers, partners and staff alike.

" He always demonstrated an enthusiastic hands-on interest in the business, and was a firm believer in the value of independent companies in today’s global market."

Smith passed away on 28 October and is survived by daughter Amanda and grandson Jamie.