FOR Gio Benedetti, every problem is just a solution which he has still to find.

The Italian-born entrepreneur’s long and successful career has been anchored on his unerring ability to conjure systems and gadgets that overcome difficulties in industrial processes.

That was none more evident than at the industrial dry-cleaning business he founded in Kilwinning, Ayrshire, which in the early-1980s was the biggest of its kind in Europe. He eventually sold it to Initial for £30 million.

“As a laundry, it was so innovative,” he recalls. “There was nowhere else like it. I did all the garments for Ford,

Jaguar and Vauxhall, all the workers’ gloves – half a million gloves per week.

“No one had as many machines as me; they were huge, expensive, industrial dry-cleaning machines. I took 50 gallons of oil out of these machines every day because it came from the gloves. Then I cleaned them and put it back in the boilers to make the steam. I was recycling the oil.”

A conversation with Mr Benedetti, who at one stage had an empire spanning several companies employing 800 people, is littered with tales of entrepreneurship like these.

And he is hoping to write a few more into his story yet.

It had been thought that Mr Benedetti, the father of violinists Nicola and Stephanie Benedetti, was heading for retirement when he wound up Wallace Cameron, the Wishaw-based first-aid kit manufacturer, in 2013. And not least because of the way things ended there.

Wallace Cameron was liquidated with significant debts, albeit jobs were protected when the assets transferred to VGroup of Milton Keynes. To this day Mr Benedetti, who was 69 at the time, admits he still feels guilty about it.

He suggests people in his adopted homeland can have short memories.

“I had seven successes,” he said. “Some of my businesses were [turning] over £100m, if you add them all together. It’s unforgiving, especially Scotland. I feel guilty about it. I’m thinking, Christ, I’ve employed hundreds of people. I didn’t walk away, I invested millions.”

But, far from signalling the end, he is back in the fray. Not that he has really been away.

Beyond the glare of publicity, the entrepreneur has been quietly developing a range of medical innovations for the health service, under his Hamilton-based Green Cross Medico firm.

The first is a device to ease the trauma patients often endure when medical professionals struggle to access veins for intravenous treatments, which often happens after people have had chemotherapy. It also occurs when patients are dehydrated.

Remarkably, Mr Benedetti explained, it is still common for people to be asked to put their arms in buckets of warm water in a bid to swell their veins in hospital wards around the country.

He hopes to all change that with the Airglove, which gently heats the patient’s arm by pumping warm air through a double-walled polythene glove. It has been approved by the NHS after successful trials in England, with Mr Benedetti due to fly to Rome soon for talks with a European distributor.

He admits that personal experience informed the innovation, which he believes has the potential to save the NHS millions of pounds. Around £6m could be saved initially, he said. That is based on the estimated £50,000 each of the UK’s 200 oncology units can save by reducing the amount of cannulation packs which have to be discarded when veins are not accessed successfully.

“We’ve been to the moon twice and we’re still using buckets of water,” Mr Benedetti said. “They’ve never come up with a solution for it and they’ve been looking at it for ages.

“It gave me the challenge, basically, [to think of] how else can you expand the veins. With me being in hospital, I had obviously experienced it. There were six holes to get [access to] my veins, and still they couldn’t find it. After the sixth, it becomes traumatic.”

Mr Benedetti said he has invested more than half a million pounds in research, patenting and manufacturing the Airglove product so far. But it is not the only medical device he has been working on. The inventor, who uses his commute from West Kilbride to Hamilton to mentally work through his ideas, has designed a device to overcome the problem of epidural catheters moving, be it during child birth or medical procedures.

“Here, about 60 per cent of women get an epidural when they have a baby,” Mr Benedetti said.

“Then they lie on their back and it moves it. Once it moves from the spine, the pain comes back, then they have

got to tear it all out and do it all

over again. We have come up with a product that is adjustable without taking the whole thing off. That’s my next thing that I am doing.”

Like the Airglove, the epidural product has also been successfully trialled.

And Mr Benedetti has another six products in the offing, including a special plaster which holds drips in place. He has moved to patent the design, held trials and will be speaking to the same distributor in Rome about taking it into the Italian health market as well. The distributor in turn has one or two products which Mr Benedetti feels would benefit the health service here.

He said it takes someone with entrepreneurial nous to come up with

the creative solutions organisations like the NHS need.

“A clinician comes up with a problem and an idea, but it doesn’t mean it is ‘manufacturable’ and doable,” he noted.

“Because I’m not a medic, I take a different attitude to it sometimes. It is sometimes better when you know nothing about it.”

There is another dimension to Green Cross Medico, too. It also has a 300-strong team which provides first-aid training to the likes of Asda, Tesco and Sainsbury’s. “We just won Coca-Cola for the whole of Britain,” he revealed.

That Mr Benedetti is continuing to be so enterprising well into his eighth decade is indicative of the entrepreneurial streak he has displayed since he was a teenager.

After arriving in Scotland at the age of 10, he bought a small dry-cleaning store in Kilwinning for £300 when was just 18, having realised life at his uncle’s café was not going to provide the kind of mental stimulation he craved.

He built that one shop into a chain of eight across Glasgow, Ayrshire and Paisley, before the advent of crimplene lessened demand for dry cleaning. Cue a switch into industrial dry cleaning and work for major clients such as Ford, which at that stage had a massive plant in Linwood.

Mr Benedetti would ultimately sell the business, which traded from a 100,000 square foot factory he built from scratch, in a multi-million-pound deal. And moved on quickly from there, using the proceeds to buy a paper maker in Birmingham and a cling-film maker in Shropshire.

He sold Wrap Film Systems to its management team, including himself, for £21m in 2007, with the deal allowing him to retain a 20% stake in the business. He would continue working for Wrap, striking deals with major supermarket clients and, most notably, designing a cling film dispenser which continues to be widely used across the restaurant and catering trades today. Wrap, which owned the Bacofoil brand, was acquired by German firm Melitta in 2015.

“I spent nearly £1m to develop the machine but again, [it took] balls,” he said.

“Everyone thinks I had a big strategy, but I hadn’t. All I knew was the box didn’t work, people cut themselves, and they wasted half of it. I hadn’t a Scooby what I was going to do but [I was determined] to come up with something, which I did.”

It’s that determination to solve puzzles which gets him out of bed in the morning.

“I just enjoy it,” Mr Benedetti said. “My reward is creating things, selling them off at a profit and creating more innovations.”

Six Questions

What countries have you most enjoyed travelling to, for business or leisure, and why?

The South of France for both business and pleasure. I have a

home there.

When you were a child, what

was your ideal job? Why did it appeal?

Because of my Italian relations I wanted to own a cafe.

What was your biggest break in business?

The development and growth

of my first business from scratch, which was a state of the art

100,000 sq ft dry cleaning factory

in Kilwinning.

What was your worst moment in business?

It’s yet to come - retirement!

Who do you most admire and why?

Both my daughters Stephanie and Nicola for what they have both achieved with having no musical parents and becoming renowned artists worldwide.

What book are you reading, what music are you listening to, and what was the last film you saw?

I read a newspaper every morning - it’s my addiction. I’m listening to my daughter Stephanie’s band Clean Bandit, Nicola’s CDs, the Bee Gees and Motown.

The last film I saw was Steve Jobs, starring Michael Fassbender - I’m inspired by his innovations.