On leaving King Edward VI School, aged 16 years my first job was with what is now British Rail, in the Freight Shipping Department, Newport Road. Most Stafford firms shipped their goods by rail in those days, including 'Evode' and 'Rowlands' the local abattoir who shipped animal hides referred to as 'skins'. There was often a cry of "Eureka!" when one of the Clerks had a shipping note for, say, 54 skins! I digress, - it was here that one morning the 'Roundsman' as he was called had visited Evode and I heard him say that Evode was a firm that would "go places" - how right was his prophecy.
In March 1948 I was called up for National Service which to my surprise was with the R.A.D.C. (The Royal Army Dental Corps). Following training in Aldershot and Farnborough I was posted to Chester and finally to the Dental Directorate, H.Q. B.A.O.R., West Germany.On demobilisation, and remembering the 'Roundsman's' remarks, I applied to Evode, and after an interview with DR Simon, joined Evode in the Roofing Waterproofing Contracts Department on 16th January 1950, at a salary of 5 guineas per week.
This work eventually entailed maintaining the records of all costs for each contract; its profit (or loss); liaising with the Sales Force and Field Supervision' estimating and submitting quotations; despatching materials to the contract sites, progressing each contract and submitting invoices for completed works.
I also had to take on labour when required and arrange their transport to various sites. In those days the work force travelled by public transport (rail and bus) and where sites were isolated, such as lighthouses, by local taxis.
Although we worked (theoretically) a 5 day week (8.30 - 5.30) Mr. Forman, DR Simon, Eric Nixon and myself would always turn up on a Saturday morning.
Our first job was to open all the incoming mail, separate into appropriate departments, and pass it on to DR Simon who would read it all - and comment where appropriate!
He also required an approximate value of the orders received and cheques each morning. I recall one occasion he asked "how much money?" I replied "only £2,000", he said "What do you mean, only £2,000 - the difference between having £2,000 and owing £2,000 is £4,000" I have never forgotten that to this day.
The Company was growing and we all became much busier, (it is called pressure these days) including the Dove Polish Company (English Waxes). Mr. Forman, Director was heavily involved with this company as well as the export side of Evode which was then developing, thus increasing his work load - we were all very much hands on then, including the Directors.
I was appointed Assistant to Mr. Forman and became involved with English Waxes and the export sales and shipping of Evode, with the title Office Manager, Contracts, Export and English Waxes - many of the staff wore several hats then.
English Waxes developed the famous Dove Silicone range of furniture and shoe polishes, Dove Instant Veneer - spray on polish. Also introduced was the range of Dove Impregnated Polishing Cloths, including the excellent Dove Silicone Pressing Cloth (I still use today for pressing trousers).
All the 'Polish Reps' carried car stock and at the end of each financial year these had to be checked, which meant having visits by myself and others from Stafford. Many were interesting such as one at Clyst St Mary (the Rep lived in a caravan in the middle of a field) the infamous Grays Inn Road Depot, London - the flat, Hampstead Heath (the Rep had lost the key to his boot!)
After the sale of English Waxes I continued as Office Manager for Export and Roofing until appointed Sales Administration Manager, Evode Ltd. My next move was into the Training Department, Evode Ltd., and was subsequently appointed Training Services Manager for the Evode Group.
Reporting directly to the Group Personnel Director, Robin Tomkins, several training courses were introduced for Operatives, Supervision, Managers and Directors. Many courses covered the requirements of Government legislation, such as Health and Safety at Work Act, the management of Disciplinary and Grievance Procedures, the procedure for Self-Certification for sickness absence etc.
The Hermann Simon Scholarship was successfully introduced during this period. School leavers with appropriate 'A' Level grades were sponsored on a 4 year sandwich degree course. Years 1 & 2 at an agreed university, year 3 on a detailed work-related training programme on Stafford site - the 4th year completing the degree course at university.
Many employees were sponsored on Day-release courses at various Colleges of Further Education and Polytechnics, obtaining qualifications in Accounting, Business Studies and Sciences - some to B.Sc. and Ph.D. degree levels.
On completion of 25 years service I became a proud member of the Evode '25' Club, and was appointed its Secretary in 1976, which position I held until 1988.
After nearly 40 years with the Company, I decided to call it a day and requested early retirement and so retired on 31st December 1988.
Obviously having spent so many years with the Company, I have many memories, mostly happy ones, some not so happy - this is life and one has to cope with whatever comes ones way.
I remember particularly the early Glover Street days - we were such a happy, hard-working team, more like a family, always willing to help each other with not only work related, but personal problems.
The Sales Conferences in the 50's were memorable, particularly some of the after-dinner speeches. I remember in particular one occasion when Gordon Barratt said that he was very fortunate in having a wife who "did his correspondence" Gerry Bridgens, a great wit, in his response said "Gordon was indeed fortunate for it was generally the 'correspondent' who did ones wife!!"
After a very late session at one of the Sale Conferences at the Swan Hotel, Barrie Liss and I walked home together, possibly in the early hours of the morning. The next day Barrie told me that his family, particularly Mrs. Simon, were very worried over his absence as they had been expecting him at a family dinner party. He told them that he was O.K., he had been with Don Ferguson, - it's nice to have friends!!
There are many more incidents I can recall, but I will leave it there.
I still attend the annual '25' Club Dinner each year and always look forward to meeting up with colleagues and talking over bye-gonedays and being kept up to date with the progress of the Company which I trust will continue to prosper.