Despite selling his patented process for making throw-away contact lenses and his right to start again for at least five years, the Lanarkshire-born engineer was determined to create a brand new business close to home.
The result is Daysoft, employing over 200 at Blantyre, and blazing an e-commerce trail for a new model of Scottish manufacturing which sells direct to the customer and defies the power of the big retail chains.
He says: "I enjoy doing what I am doing. We don't have a flamboyant lifestyle, my wife and I. Those material things don't mean all that much to us, a lot of them are very hollow.
"We live here, we pay our taxes here, I grew up in Bellshill which I can see from my window, I went to school in Uddingston which I go home to every night, having been round the world. I just love the fact that we can provide employment for 200 people."
It took seven years to get Daysoft out of the red, but last year the firm doubled profits to £1.3m and hiked turnover 21% to £9m, selling 1.5 million lenses a week without the aid of traditional sales or distribution operations.
The firm has evaded industry restrictions on sale of lenses within the UK by means of a logistics arm in Jersey, and uses the internet as a force in the market to undercut the high street and offer hugely lower prices.
No wonder this doyen of Scottish entrepreneurs, now 70, is particularly proud of the CBE presented him by The Queen at Holyrood earlier this month, as it recognises his "services to the industry".
He says it reflects the fact that "quite high-ranking people in the optics profession say that I have transformed the health care and the vision care of millions of people".
Mr Hamilton had only been in the industry five years when as a vice-president of multinational CooperVision he conceived the idea of a disposable daily lens produced at a fraction of normal costs, and presented it to his company.
"They said 'we're not discussing that – we make so much money on our cleaning solution business'," Mr Hamilton said.
He gave up his career and began producing prototypes in a lab in his back garden, but the big manufacturers were not interested.
He said: "The vice-president of research and development at Johnson & Johnson came over and watched what we were doing. He said 'I have a department of 147 people in Jacksonville, I can't go back and tell them that two guys working in a back garden have something to offer'. It was 'not invented here' syndrome."
However, retailer Boots found it very interesting. He said: "They said if you do what you say you can do, this will take 25% of the market". That persuaded Scottish Equity Partners to back Award – and they were rewarded with a 250% return and an early exit.
The Boots connection gave the Award laboratory a sales outlet, but that dependency also helped persuade the founder to sell out to Bausch & Lomb – which transferred all the Scottish work to Ireland 10 years later.
He said: "I think we owed it to ourselves, our families and our backers to take some degree of financial security."
The second time around, the inventor wanted to escape the power of the retailers. But first, he needed a product. He said: "I have probably surprised people twice in my career, and surprised myself too. That was the challenge.
"I had to start from scratch. I was not allowed to use any of the intellectual property, I had to invent a completely different process – there were things I could do, but there were things I couldn't do.
"When you are dealing with the likes of Johnson & Johnson or Bausch & Lomb, they will come down on you and then you really have trouble."
Daysoft began with an empty building in the Hamilton International Technology Park, £2m of Mr Hamilton's proceeds, and a 27% stake in the hands of SEP.
For the first four years it sold lenses in bulk to independent opticians in the UK and overseas ("our very first customer was an optician in Sri Lanka and she's still with us") and in 2006, soon after the big optical chains were let loose by new legislation, the new Hamilton vision was launched – a parallel 'business to consumer' (B2C) operation, cutting out the middleman completely.
He said: "I am happy with the independents, we can manage them. But if we had not carved out a new route to market, we would have been owned today by Specsavers, or doing the own-branding for Tesco."
Instead, Daysoft is advertising in the London tube and in-flight magazines and picking up orders direct from travellers' ipads, as the B2C business nets 1000 orders a day and drives the firm's growth – staff have doubled in three years to over 200. Mr Hamilton said: "The internet has completely changed the way we live, the way we are entertained, the way we are educated – and the way we make things. We are taking orders today from all round the world and posting them to people's homes."
However, he admits: "It is tough. You have all the threats in the market-place that you are challenging, and you need a great deal of stamina."
Mr Hamilton is calling on Scottish manufacturers to follow his lead.
"Manufacturers have been, shall we say, compressed by the power of retail. They say if we can't make it at that price they will go and buy it in China – we can't go on like that to have any manufacturing base left.
"But if we are clever enough to make it, to raise the money to fund it, to protect the IP to do it – surely we are clever enough to get it to market?"
Daysoft's sales, marketing, communications and IT, its customer care and financial departments, are housed in Blantyre – at 14 desks.
The founder says: "I don't have a salesman and I don't have a shop – to do the business we do it would probably need 500 outlets. The difficulty people have is shaking off what they did previously – that is the innovator's dilemma."
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