I was born in South London and had been working as Assistant Manager for contract sales at Berry Wiggins, Isle of Grain, they were oil refiners who dealt with bitumen (similar to Evode Roofing). I had put an advert in a newspaper:-
And Evode responded, coincidentally Evode had also advertised for a rep at the same time, and I applied to that advert. They ignored my application to their advert!! I have never mentioned this in all these years.
I was interviewed in early December 1954 at 1 Victoria Street London which was Evode’s London Office, near to Westminster Abbey, my interview was with Eric Barnes who was a self styled Area Manager, they weren’t fussy about titles in them days, people self styled them. After my first interview Eric wrote to tell me that he wanted to interview me again, but that never happened, instead I was interviewed by Dr Simon and Mr Yudolph (Mr Yudolph was an Area Manager who joined during the war, Mr Jacques had been promoted to Sales Manager, and Mr Yudolph had taken over his job). After this interview, about 8 days before Christmas, a telegram arrived
I thought it a rather odd that they wanted me to start before Christmas, but I started 5 days before Christmas. I reported to the London office, Christmas then was just Christmas Day and Boxing Day, and the day after that Eric Barnes took me and another rep who had just started up to Stafford in his Armstrong Siddeley car. There was no motorway, we stopped at Banbury for coffee and arrived at Stafford around lunchtime, I can’t remember what we did for lunch, but I know that there wasn’t a works canteen at Glover Street. When we went into the factory I was confronted by a long table covered in tins, and there was a contraption which was rolled along filling the tins with polish turning the tap off as they went. There was Eric Nixon there (who got killed in a road accident about 20 years later) and a very young Don Ferguson. There were two desks, one for building chemicals and the other for roofing. Glover Street seemed very pleasant, the Doctor had an office with painted walls and Lino on the walls, hardly palatial!!
No training was given, we just talked about the products, later we went to the Royal Oak (the Why Not) were we were booked in, John Forman and Eric Barnes joined us for dinner and after we sat in the bar talking and drinking. Next morning back at Glover Street as we were leaving about lunchtime, Dr Simon held out for my coat, I said that it was all right but Dr Simon replied “No, you are our guest” We left about midday and got home about 5-6 o'clock.
I was given a couple of boxes of paperwork for my territory which I had to sort out. A month later I asked for copies of the orders, a month later they arrived. --- 3 pieces of paper, either they had no orders or they had lost them!! The other rep that started with me left after a month, he wasn’t satisfactory, but in those days people came and went.
The Office at 1 Victoria Street London moved to 62 Victoria Street and they built an architects department, later they moved to Edgware Road W2, the Sales Manager of English Waxes was Mr Arnott, he was in the London Office. Mr Beaumont also operated from there, he was very efficient.
During the war Evode had waterproofed tanks for water supply to fight fires. They built brick tanks about 4 foot high and ten foot square and coated the insides with two to three layers of bitumen. I was involved with the cooling towers business. They were concrete structures, coated on the inside with bitumen. C.E.G.B. (Central Electric Generating Board) were included on the list as a suppliers, I used to get all the business, Bierman and Hennibque built the towers, generally about 3-4 towers on each site and we would then get orders for 5-6 tonnes of bitumen to coat them. There used to be towers at Ferry Bridge on the A1, until they blew down, which was good for me as I got the repeat business when they rebuilt them!!
When the motorway was built, they used to grit the roads in winter, the grit contained salt which was corrosive to the vehicles so we supplied Evodyne Anti Corrosive Paint in a sunset yellow. It went to the Ministry of Transport and to other suppliers to coat new vehicles, It went to Atkinsons of Lancashire.Each time I came to Stafford I would meet John Forman, he was a Director, and when Dr Simon was interned during the war, he carried on with the business, he spoke with an accent, his father had been with the war commission after the First World War and John had been bought up in Germany. Then there was Mrs D I Wood who later became Mrs Peake, she handled all the money. John Hadley took over from Mrs Wood, he then went back to the London Office, he lived in Broadstairs on the Kent coast and would drive up each day.
I sold all the range of products except Evo-Stik Impact Adhesive, I was moved around, I started by covering North West London and Berkshire, and I was also General Manager South which covered Wales to the Wash. Berkshire was especially good for business on the roofing side with the county council and schools, and also Aldermaston Atomic Weapons, we did that for about 12 years renewing the contract each year. It was worth millions.
At Christmas the contract staff went to lunch at a local hotel there was about 12-14 of us, sometimes we took customers. I paid for myself, in the early days the company wasn’t so generous, and they didn’t pay expenses too well.
When the Doctor died in 1978 I was going to Weston to see my children for the weekend, so I went via Stafford for the funeral at the Borough Hall in Stafford.
In 1980 I joined the Evode 25 Club, I bought a travellers clock with the gift money, I am looking at it now. John Forman presented it to me at the dinner in May. I remember Barrie Liss quite well, I remember him starting at Evode, he came from Stoke Newington, I remember his wife Marion, also her brother Andrew (who is the same age as my son). I don’t remember the other sister, Petra who went to Germany.
I was married in 1937, long before I joined Evode, and my wife had died when I married Dulcie Bell-Nash, secretary to Mr Winterbottom. I had written to Evode after I left in 1981 about a couple of things, BUPA etc., and Dulcie wrote to say that she was retiring so I sent her a card. She replied that if I was ever in Stafford to come for a drink and a natter, I said come to London for a drink. She retired about 1983/84 and rang me one Sunday, she then came down on the Thursday and we later married. We had four years together before she died.
I have been on the pension for 20 years now.
13 November 2000 by telephone.