Norman Bell

I joined Evode about 1970, after I had been interviewed by Harvey Liss and Alwyn Loft at the London office. I joined the Building Chemicals Division as a representative, covering the South East. During my initiation time at Stafford, I spent time with various members of staff like Ted Akerman and Colin Harvey. Building Division at that time covered additives for concrete, flooring finishes, adhesives, mastics, roofing materials and roofing contracts. Harvey Liss was sales manager at the time and Alwyn Loft was my regional manager.

It was about a year or so later that roofing contracts were taken away from us and a separate division was formed for this purpose. The following year the roofing division was instructed to sell mastic pointing contracts which were a new venture. It was about this time that Harvey Liss went to America and Colin Harvey took his place and Chris Foreman became my regional manager.

The following year, roofing materials was handed over to the Roofing/Mastic division from the building chemicals side, and the mastic pointing side of the business was given to the building chemicals division.

I did rather well at the mastic pointing side of the business as in one year I did contracts on a block of flats at St Leonards-on-Sea, a new school at The Ridge at Hastings, a school for Surrey County Council at Frimley and a tall library building at County Hall Maidstone, which was carried out a year later, after I was transferred to Allweather Evode Paints. (Evode did some sales literature on that one)

The Building Division was disbanded about 1983 as it was not giving the returns that the company was expecting, and the merchandising side were objecting to our direct approach to the builders, thus I was offered a post either to sell mastic pointing contracts in London, or to join Allweather Paints. At that time my children were at the final stages of their education and therefore, with this in mind, the travelling to Kent each day was the lesser evil of the two.

My Allweather Evode experience started rather roughly, as I had to learn quite quickly the types of industrial paints and where they could be used. Jack Cardy was the managing director and Roy McPherson was sales manager.

The company had employed several area managers covering Kent over a short period of time. The longest had lasted six months. During the first few months my sales figures had not improved and I was given a written warning, then I found a new customer called Norbond of Mepham, who were placing orders of £2,000 nearly every week.

Things never looked back from then on, and I remember one year at our sales conference, being presented with a hamper for being top salesman.

After the first year, they reallocated my area to include East Sussex and when John Hope retired (who covered West Sussex, Hampshire and Surrey), my area expanded.

South Coast Welders at Ashford Airfield near Hyde, Kent were very good customers of ours. They made footbridges for County and local authorities and British rail, (to name a few) which went all over England. It was always interesting to see a span of a bridge being delivered, which was attached to the back of a traction unit and an articulated lorry, with a pair of bogey wheels strapped to the back, which were operated by an independent hydraulic donkey engine placed on the deck of the footbridge. Of course the Police had to be involved, and arrangements had to be made with each County Police Force in which the bridge was travelling through.

Other jobs I was involved with were the salt-water separators at BP Grain. I also supplied coatings for floating tank bases for the oil storage tanks. We supplied epoxy paint for several petrol storage tanks at Hoo, which were applied after the existing paint was removed, using a wet blast system abrasive, whilst the tanks were full of petrol. We did a little work on the Thames Barrier, on the steel shuttering and on the floor of the control room.

One of the challenges that Jack Cardy gave me was to get work from Reeds Paper Group which owned Crown Paints, which they had to use. One day I had a call from their engineering design office at Aylesford , Kent, asking if I could suggest why paintwork at a new site in South Africa was flaking. They had been unable to obtain any answers from on-site staff or from Crown. Not knowing what type of paint and site conditions prevailed, I suggested that they might have used a primer which could have had a limited period of time before over-coating. It was found that the over-coating time had not been adhered to, and as the result of this information, I obtained an order for their de-inking plant which was being moved from Gravesend to Aylesford. I also obtained an order for paint for two large oil storage tanks.

We supplied paint for both Kent and East Sussex County Councils for their new and existing bridges and railings. Southern Water were another good customer of ours and we supplied coatings for their sewage works and fresh water treatment works.

We supplied a lot of paint to Sheerness Docks. A brand new walkway from customs and immigration to the passenger ferry. An amusing tale to this one – when the ferry took off, part of the walkway caught the ferry and took part of it with it. There was a large Forest Product Shed where we supplied a very large amount of paint. The story behind this one was that it was to be built over a disused harbour basin which was sealed off, dredged out, back filled with sand, which was pumped from a dredger from the other side of the quay. When the shed was constructed was constructed in lattice design lightweight steel, this would allow for any movement. The outer staunchens were placed on the quay side either side of the basin, and the inner staunchens were sitting on a concrete base which sat on the sand infill. They had allowed for a 9” settlement drop before roof sheets would start to fall off with the distortion. This would mean that regular checks would have to be made, so that when settlement got down to 6”, these inner staunchans would have to be jacked up. I was told that there were only two sheds constructed of this type, one being in Canada and the other in Australia and they had had the problem of roof sheets falling off because of the distortion. We also supplied paint for another very large dockside crane.

We did a lot of work for British rail at Folkestone and Dover harbours. When the cranes were on the harbour side, we supplied the paint for them, and ICI who supplied us with the Aloprene (which went into Chlorinated Rubber) made a film of this for publicity purposes. We also supplied the paint for all the steelwork from Folkstone Harbour station to the end of the quayside. We also worked with the anchor chain department of Cross Channel Ferries.

Another interesting project that we supplied paint to was the National Gas Turbine Testing Station at Pystock. Here the air intake tubes were shot blasted and lined with epoxy paint.

Norman Bell - 2013