I didn’t really know much about Evode Ltd until I applied for a job in the Sales Office of Evomastics which was headed by Tony Carwardine and Keith Challinor.
Before this I had been concentrating on Accounts work from when I was conscripted into the Army for National Service in December 1957. This actually made me realise that I enjoyed his type of work and felt job satisfaction for the first time in my working career.
Prior to the Army I was employed as a Painter and Decorator with Linfords of Cannock. I left school not knowing what I wanted to follow a career in, and I was influenced by my brother-in-law who was an artist in this field of work.
My 2 years in the Army Pay Office at the British Military Hospital in Rinteln, Germany triggered off my enthusiasm for Accounts and when I eventually left the Forces I applied and accepted an accounts job with the Treasurers Department of Staffs County Council and whilst I dedicated myself to the various jobs, I did feel that I had to move on - I had a feeling that I had to move on or spend the rest of my life carrying out the same repetitive work - so I moved away after 4 years to Evode in July 1963.
I thought that a change of work might be useful and accepted a clerical job within Evomastics Sales Office.
It seems like yesterday when I cycled through the gate past the old Gatehouse manned by Jack Butler with Chris Bodkin, his able assistant, and then to the Personnel Office which was then based in the ‘House’ and from here to the Sales Office which was situated in the main office block facing the Common - not knowing at his time (July 1963) that I would retire from the same office 33 years later - albeit the Accounts Office.
I was quite amazed at the size of the Company and could hardly believe that Evode produced other products besides Evo-Stik - which if I might digress a little, to mention that until that time in my life I had not written a business letter which was signed by myself - Ministry of Defence and Local Authorities did not permit the use of the writers name!
At Evode all mail was in fact ‘vetted’ by Dr Simon or more often by Mr Forman, who was a stickler for the correct spelling of ‘Evo-Stik’ and any letter with the wrong spelling was promptly returned to the sender.
I enjoyed my time in Evomastic Sales and remember a number of stories, one of which related to the local Area Representative, Peter Baker, who was quite a character. One day he came into the office and spoke to Joyce Jones who worked in the Pricing Section.
Peter said to Joyce - “What do you do?”
Joyce replied - “I’m only here to decorate the place”
To which Peter replied - “Here’s a brush - get on with it!”
I can recall another amusing situation whereby I received a telephone call from one of our customers to whom we supplied Mastic Sealant Guns.
The majority of our Guns had our Company name etched on the barrel - however this particular Company required Guns without our name. They had mistakenly been sent our ‘named’ Guns and had requested immediate replacements. The Buyer did mention that he could, but did not wish to 'grind off’ our name. I made a quick check with our Stock Controller who stated that we only had our own Guns in stock and the plain ones would take at least two weeks before we could supply them.
A simple reply was given to the customer
“You’d better get grinding!”
The rapport between our 2 companies was very good - and the customer did see the funny side of the situation.
On another occasion a customer phoned for an urgent delivery of Bitumen - he wanted it yesterday! The Bitumen production was managed by Ted and Dan Wojtulewicz and their internal telephone number was 105, I ‘phoned what I thought was 105 but my fingers must have slipped and I must have dialled the 1 twice - thus dialling 1105. A voice not unlike Ted or Dan answered and I blurted the customer’s request and obviously required prompt action. The phone went quiet for a few seconds and then this voice said “This is Dr Simon” His number was of course common to everyone - 110. I crept under the desk.
Centralisation of Sales Administration developed and all Divisions i.e. Industrial, Evomastics, Building & Homecare etc., were handled by one office - I moved into this office for a short while eventually analysing sales statistics for all Divisions.
A Sales Ledger post became vacant in the Accounts Office, headed by Geoff Leedham (whom I eventually succeeded).
With my knowledge of Sales and experience in Accounts I applied for the job and happily accepted the appointment.
I have said to many people that this move was “the best thing ‘since sliced bread’”. I was thrilled to be back into Accounts again and dedicated the rest of my career to this work which included many aspects of accounts - Credit Control, Claims, Cashiers, Cash Books, Ledger Controls etc., plus keeping our noses clean for the Auditors, Inland Revenue VAT Inspectors and Customs & Excise Officers regular inspections.
One of the aspects of the Credit Control sections relates to debt collection. I remember on one occasion we required a payment from Geo. Wimpey Ltd., and I had the task of contacting them. I ‘phoned to what I thought was their number and after waiting for an answer for what seemed like half an hour a voice answered. I asked to speak to Mr Brown in the Accounts. Mr Brown answered and I expressed a desire for payment of their overdue account.
After waiting a short while Mr Brown stated that he would pay the account immediately. I asked him to verify the amount but was unable to reconcile his figure within our books. After cross-checking the various items it became clear that this was not the right customer and I asked him to confirm the name of his company. It was in fact Wates Ltd. And not Wimpey. I then checked their account in our books, reconciled the figure and he agreed to pay the amount that day even though this account was not overdue! A fruitful ‘phone call. By the way Wimpey also paid their account after a ‘phone call to their Mr Brown.
During my time in the Accounts the whole context of the ledger systems were dramatically changed from manual labour-intensive work loads to the new ‘state of the art’ computer visual on-line ledger controls. This took place over several years and it was enjoyable and very satisfying to have been part of the transformation.
To me the whole of my time in Accounts (except for a few hiccups) was invigorating and the 27 years I was there seemed like 27 minutes.
Job satisfaction - I rated as 100% and to me it was a pleasure to work - the staff were first class and when I finished in November 1996 I thought that I would not adjust to home life but surprisingly I did.
Many memories are ingrained in my mind - I was regularly involved with the fortunes of our Company football team which started in earnest during the 1960’s and into the 1970’s.
Many Evodians will recall that our team headed by, amongst others, Lionel Wilcox, completed successive championships in the local Amateur League - climbing from the 4th Division to the 1st Division in just 4 years - some feat - and in addition winning many Cup Competitions along the way.
To digress again (only slightly) Sergeant Lionel Wilcox came to Evode from the Police Force and was appointed Chief Fire and Safety Officer - Lionel was not short of the odd quip or two - I remember asking him “What steps he would take in the event of fire”
His reply “B---y big ones across the Common”
Another story comes to mind which I’m sure Ron Johnson won’t mind my recalling:-
During the early days at Evode I cycled each day and many times cycled through the gates with Ron. Eventually however I updated my mode of transport and bought a second hand moped (N.S.U. Quickly) I used this moped for 2 or 3 years but due to continuing problems with the mechanics i.e. Faulty brakes, lights, accelerator clutch etc., I decided that it would be better if I reverted to cycling. I told Ron of my intentions and he was keen on buying this moped even though he had passed me many times coming to work - Ron on his bike and me pushing my moped.
Ron knew of all the faults but was still keen on buying the machine - deal done! However a few days into the purchase - Ron who had overhauled the moped and made it look like new, took it for a spin one lunchtime.
At 2.00 PM - No Ron
At 3.00 PM - No Ron
At 4.00 PM - No Ron - but a phone call from Sandon!
Ron was in difficulty - the moped’s brakes had somehow failed at a crossroad's and Ron after failing to fix the problems finished up having to walk the machine back. There were a few expletives heard when he arrived back at Evode.
I’m sure that wasn’t the end of Ron’s problems with that moped.
I will conclude by saying that it was enjoyable to watch the progress of the Company throughout the 33 years that I was there and whilst the Company remained independent it was hard to accept eventually that it was to be sold - but I was suppose that is progress.
Whatever happens in the future I’m sure that the name of Evo-Stik will remain with us forever.
9 August 2000