Dr Maitland Mackie, who was the owner of the family-run firm, was rector of Aberdeen University and a former vice president of the National Farmers Union in Scotland.
He was also a Liberal Democrat candidate in the first Scottish Parliament elections, topping the party list for the North East region.
But after the party won three constituency seats in the area then, he failed to make it to Holyrood.
Senior figures from the Liberal Democrats paid tribute to the leading businessman.
Liberal Democrat leader Willie Rennie said: "A kind and compassionate man, Maitland Mackie stood out in so many fields.
"His great success in business and agriculture made the family name a favourite in most freezers but I will remember him for his great intelligence, drive and charm. All of us in the Liberal family will miss him."
Scottish Secretary Alistair Carmichael had campaigned alongside him in the the run up to the 1999 Holyrood election.
Mr Carmichael said: "I don't believe that Maitland Mackie ever gave less than 100% to anything he did in life. In farming, family life, politics, renewable energy or, more recently, as rector of Aberdeen University his approach was always the same - total commitment, fierce passion and incredible energy.
"He was determined always to find new and better ways of doing things and was no lover of orthodoxy. His instinct was to challenge and that did not always make him popular but it did make it next to impossible not to respect him. Our farming, business and public life in Scotland has lost a man who always gave more than he took."
Dr Mackie, who was in his seventies, died on Saturday after a short illness.
Professor Sir Ian Diamond, principal and vice-chancellor of Aberdeen University said they were "deeply saddened to learn of the death of Dr Maitland Mackie".
He described him as being "an extremely popular rector who will be remembered with great fondness".
He added: "Dr Mackie had a long association with the university graduating with a BSc in agriculture in 1958 and MA Hons in economics in 1971.
"He was chairman of the Aberdeen Students' Charities Campaign during his time at university and continued to be a champion of the student body, leading to his election as rector in 2011, having previously served as a member of the University Court.
"Dr Mackie drew on his own student days and worked tirelessly to promote enhancements to the student experience at Aberdeen."
First Minister Alex Salmond also paid tribute to Dr Mackie.
He said: "Maitland brought wit, colour and energy to everything he did.
"His highly successful company made him one of the best known business figures in the North East and beyond but his interests extended further than that. He was one of the first to recognise the real significance both for the economy and local communities of Scotland's wind power potential. And, of course, he was a formidable campaigner politically and on local issues where I had the pleasure of working with him."