Having seen in the paint industry technical press during the year 1957, firstly a series of announcements of the registration of trade names with the prefix 'Evo-', such names as Evolustre, Evokote, Evomastic etc., and secondly the advertising of a vacancy for a Paint Chemist in the Evode Laboratories, I applied for the latter, successfully, and joined the Company on 1st October 1957.
I was responsible to Mr Eric Duligal, Technical Manger of the Paints Division, and worked with Cyril Lawton in the Glover Street Laboratory for a few years on the development of a range of decorative and industrial paints until the closure of the Glover Street Works, and the move into the then new Laboratory Block at Common Road. A Morris Minor van was hired for me for about a week, to remove our effects, such as paint samples, apparatus, filing etc., from one place to the other, and I well remember the olefactory evidence of the van's previous service in the fresh fish trade.
At this time our work with epoxide resin paints was extended into the use of liquid epoxide resins, which gave rise to a range of epoxide resin floorings, mortars, and similar products. These materials required very particular attention to be paid to their careful handling, in order to avoid problems of sensitisation and dermatitis by certain individuals who were specifically prone to such problems. As with many such sensitisation phenomena, it took time and exposure before one could find out if one was a candidate for such problems, by which time it was too late. The materials also required care in their specification, surface preparation and application, because of their unique properties. All these points had to be discovered by experiment, but in due course useful products resulted, and successful work was accomplished, but often at the expense of considerable technical service assistance, both in the laboratory and on the application site.
At this time, I became responsible to Dr B S Jackson, Technical Director of the Building Chemicals and Roof Waterproofing Division, after the departure of Mr Duligal to Metalife.
In the late sixties, I believe it was, the Evode Group took over a paint company in Gillingham, Kent, and there was set up Allweather-Evode Paints Ltd. The whole of the paints operation at Stafford was transferred to Gillingham, leaving the epoxide resin materials in Stafford for distribution to our customers through the sales force of the Building Chemicals Division.
Because of my technical service commitments to do with the epoxide resin formulations, I was asked to undertake similar work with our building sealants, and I became as a result Technical Liaison Manager, a title I held for the remainder of my service with Evode. For several years, in addition to running my own laboratory with three or four staff, and overseeing responsibility for the Analytical Laboratory, I was travelling up to 20,000 miles per years on technical service visits.
In due course it was realised that the hopes held out for the epoxide resin building materials were not being realised, partly because of the difficulty of getting the applicators' staff to work with sufficient attention and forethought to the problems of surface preparation, and partly because of the change on our sales representation form 'direct to user' to 'through distributing merchant'. The range of products was therefore discontinued.
As one door closes, another opens, and the latter door was called the 'Health and Safety at Work Act, etc. 1974' I believe the only Act of Parliament that had the word 'etc.' in its title. Justly so - there was always something extra that could be read into the wording. Its requirements led to the perceived need for comprehensive safety precautions to be compiled and published for our materials, and its introduction coincided with complaints by me on return from technical service visits to our customers that our literature exhibited certain shortcomings which had led to misuse or accident, which was often the reason for a visit to the site. As a result, I collected another task, and because Mr Vee Vohralik was Managing Director of the Company at that time, I occupied a position which was entitled by some in the Company, as the Chief Officer of the 'keep Vee Out Of Gaol Club', a reference to the statement in the act which promised punishment by fine or imprisonment to 'directors, managers, secretaries, or anyone purporting to be such', if their company were found to be in default of the Act's somewhat nebulous requirements. This job required a comprehensive examination of the health and safety aspects of our raw materials, and of the products made with them, and the compiling of data on how they should be labelled, stored, delivered and used. All this was for the benefit of our customers.
As far as our own employees were concerned, we set up a number of safety committees covering the main sections of the Common Road site, and frequent meetings between management delegates and recognised safety representatives were held for each section. In this work, our then Fire and Safety Officer, Mr Cliff Stanley, dealt with the practical factory aspects of the legislation, and I acted as Secretary to the Committees, and handles the compilation of the safety aspects of our literature and labelling, as well as administration.
This rewriting of our sales product data sheets and some literature was accomplished by me in the late eighties with the aid of a computer and Desktop Publishing programme, capable of production of press-ready master documents.
In the midst of this, the 'glue-sniffing' craze came upon us, and for quite some time, I spent an unwelcome portion of each day answering questions from the press and from parents and teachers of children who had undertaken the habit. Evode was at the time notorious as being the 'brand leader' in the solvent abuse field, despite the fact that the much of the attribution was erroneous, since many other solvent-containing products found in builders merchants depots etc. are capable of being misused in this way. This invasion ceased when the charity 'Resolve' was set up in Stone, and I lost my unwanted public exposure.
Considerable time was spent during this period in learning about registration of 'intellectual property' such as patents and trade marks, in association with the Company's patents agents. This was a task I was asked to take over from Dr. Patrick Counsell, who became engaged with a particular research project at this time.
Another occupation for several years was as technical representative on behalf of the Company on the technical panels, firstly of the Federation of Epoxy Resin Formulators and Applicators, and later of the Sealant Manufacturers' Conference, and of the British Adhesives Manufacturers Association. When these last two amalgamated, I was elected as Chairman to the British Standard Sub-Committee on the two subject classes of materials.
I retired on the 30th September 1989, some months before I was 65, and after exactly 32 years service with the Company. As readers will no doubt have realised, there are remarkably few dates between starting and finishing dates on my account of my employment. I can only comment that I was never a clock watcher when I was busy, and that 'virtue' must have extended to an equally small commitment to the surveillance of the calendar as well. There was a comedian on the radio at one time whose catch-phrase was "Doesn't time fly when you're having fun."