Mike Purnell

Mike Purnell

IABM Journal

Mike Purnell

Thu 22, 02 2024

Mike Purnell

We were deeply saddened to learn of the passing of Mike Purnell, who died suddenly on 6 February aged 78. Mike served on the IABM Board from 2011 until his retirement in 2015 and was an enthusiastic supporter of the MediaTech industry’s international trade association.

We are indebted to Chris Smeeton, Managing Director at Argosy, for the following tribute to Mike:

“Mike was born 1945 in Brighton, where he spent most of his formative years, intertwined with several years in France; this may be where his love of travelling emerged. He started his working life in the electronics industry with ITT Cannon in the 60s, where he established his abiding interest in connectors and first encountered the Cannon XLR audio connectors; these provided his introduction to broadcast technology.

“Mike was a family man and was the proud father of two sons, Andrew and Nick. Mike and his wife Pauline set up a home in Buckinghamshire and it was from here that Mike was to establish Argosy, alongside his business partner Doug Julley, soon to be joined by long-term friend Ken Eckardt, specialising in serving the Broadcast Industry.

“Their company started like many small firms: while one person quoted customers and processed orders, the other loaded the van and drove into London to deliver the products.  As their customer base grew, Mike and Ken were able to upsize into bigger premises in Stokenchurch and then latterly in Long Crendon with branch offices in Salford and Dubai. Intensely patriotic, Mike was at his core an internationalist; he thrived on traveling overseas to work alongside people from different backgrounds and cultures, building close relationships with many of the people he met.

“Mike and his wife Pauline became fixtures of the Broadcast sector; Pauline would often accompany him on business trips to places as far flung as Las Vegas, Amsterdam and Dubai.

“Mike’s  business acumen, intelligence, courteous nature, loyalty, generosity and humour were legendary across the Industry.  He built Argosy around a family ethos, bringing youngsters in, training and supporting them – Mike always matched his words with deeds. He funded OU degrees for me and my colleagues, and embraced lifelong learning: for example, I was sent on management, marketing, contract law and board courses as my career with Argosy progressed. Mike gave us the skills, time and encouragement – a father figure for us all.

“Even after he retired in 2015 following the sale of Argosy, his invaluable mentoring and advising continued; he was very helpful in the process of us buying the company back again in 2018, and continued to be on hand to help right up until his passing. I am determined to rebuild the company in the image Mike and Ken had set for it over their 30-year tenure. Mike was an inspiration, a father figure and true friend to me, and I will always treasure the memory of our friendship.

“Mike also found time to make an active contribution to our trade association, IABM, of which he was a strong supporter. He found the collegiate environment of working with his peers to be very valuable, building synergies with other member companies. His commitment to IABM was illustrated by his sitting on the IABM Board for a number of years.

“Outside of work, Mike enjoyed a game of golf and was a member of Round Table and 41 Club.  Good company, good food and a glass of good wine were definitely on the menu for a night out with Mike.

Our abiding memory of Mike will always be of a patriotic, family-orientated man, who loved his family and friends alike and treated his colleagues, friends and business associates with love, affection and support.”


The news of Mike’s death brought in tributes from an enormous number of people around the world – an acknowledgement of the impact he made on so many people over so many years. Here are just a few examples:

Mark Barkey, Actus Digital

A very dear, loyal, trusted friend, icon in the world of broadcast. To me a mentor, the quintessential gentleman who wrote the book on how to deal with customers.

Pat Hoyle, JP Broadcast

A great loss to the broadcast engineering world. Mike was always a genuine ‘people person’; he had time to understand your requirements (whether large of small) and made my projects supply chain much easier at Channel 4.

Chris Lund, Lund Halsey

Mike was one of the legends of our industry. A hugely respected, generous of spirit, wise colleague and good friend. And a lot of fun over the decades.

Paul Wallis

Wonderful man, great sense of humour, and always a keen eye for business. I am happy to have shared some wonderful experiences with Mike.

Lucinda Meek, IABM

Mike was a kind and lovely man. He was a great supporter of IABM and I sat with Mike on the IABM board. He was always courteous and extremely helpful – going above and beyond in his help to the IABM team. Mike was also great fun to be with. Condolences to his family and his Argosy family.





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