After a remarkable 53 years at Venesta, our Export Estimator Doug bids farewell to his Venesta colleagues this February as he heads off to enjoy his very well deserved retirement.
Doug joined the company back in 1969 as a teenager earning £7 a week and sadly departs in just a few weeks’ time, still with his original contract in tow! Doug is the office’s walking encyclopaedia for all things commercial washrooms and his wealth of knowledge of both the company and the industry will be sorely missed by us all.
Before Doug’s departure on 2nd February, just one day before his special 70th birthday, we’d like to add, we were keen to sit down with him to ask him some questions about his time working at Venesta Washrooms. Join us on a trip down memory lane!
What initially attracted you to work for Venesta?
As far as I can remember this was the first job I had applied for, either through a local newspaper or job centre. I went along for an interview and I seem to remember being offered the job there and then. As a young 16 year old, I didn’t know anything about the company at the time!
You began at Venesta in 1969 as a Trainee Clerk in the Production Control Department (PCD). How has your role changed over the years?
My first role was working in the PCD with 3 elderly colleagues who were on the verge of retirement - so quite an age difference as I was only 16! The department was responsible for issuing jobs and material to production. From this, an opportunity arose in the drawing office, which was the CAD department of its day - here I would draw toilet cubicle arrangements by hand on a drawing board.
From there I moved into the furniture department where I helped design items of knock down furniture for the mail order catalogue market. When the furniture side of the company was no more, I moved back to drawing cubicles and soon this changed from hand drawing to CAD. When our CAD department moved to our Trentham site, I joined the Estimating team which is where I’ve been ever since.
What’s been the best thing about working at Venesta?
It’s got to be meeting some really nice people throughout the years and making some good friends along the way!
What’s the secret to working for the same company for 53 years?
Venesta was always a company that had many long serving employees. I remember a few from the factory who hit the 50 year service mark back then but I never thought I would do the same! Honestly I’m not sure what the secret is but I was never tempted to move away.
What advice would you give to the next generation of Estimators at Venesta?
Work hard but at the same time make sure to have plenty of fun. You could be here for a long time, so you should definitely enjoy it.
What’s been your personal highlight while working at Venesta?
Personally it must be meeting Wendy in 1979 when she joined Venesta. The girl who was to become my wife and mother to our two sons! …She would probably be cross with me if I didn’t say that!
What’s the first thing you’re going to do when you retire?
I’m looking forward to turning my morning alarms off, having a nice rest and visiting a few Wetherspoons for lunch! After that, Wendy has a few projects lined up for me. I’m looking forward to doing a bit more gardening and relaxing in the garden when the summer arrives. I will also finally get myself a passport and book up a nice cruise!
Before we finished our catch up with Doug, he shared an interesting fact with us that we just had to share. Doug came to the UK when he less than 6 months old on 26th July 1953, after being born in Adelaide, South Australia. The ship he and his family travelled on docked in Tilbury just across the river from our Kent office. So if Doug had looked across the water when he first arrived in the UK, he would have had his first view of Gravesend and where our office now is – some might say working at Venesta was his destiny!
Thank you for your dedication and diligence over the last 53 years Doug, it’s certainly a record-breaking length of service in our Gravesend office. On behalf of all the Venesta team, we wish Doug the very best for his retirement and hope he enjoys some well-earned downtime.
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