Bob calls it a day after 35 years in steel

Perth, June 30, 2011

For a man who has battled his way back from bowel cancer, Fero’s Bob Jardine deserves a break.

And today he gets that opportunity when he retires after 35 years in the steel industry and 48 years in sales and marketing.

The well-respected Sales Executive — Anti-Corrosion who hails from High Wycombe, said the time was right to head on holiday and “get steel out of my veins”.

Bob’s been with Fero for the past two years but has tentacles in the industry throughout Western Australia and has worked with fellow Fero workers in the past.

“When I took redundancy at my last job, Dave Morrison said I was too young to retire,” he said.

But, with the end of the financial year, and the a magical number staring at him in the face, Bob decided to retire, especially since he has battled, and overcome, bowel cancer.

“I had a blood test yesterday and in the New Year I will have another test and a scan.”

All that will be behind him on Tuesday when he flies with his wife to Europe for 13 weeks of relaxation and a chance to decide how he wants to spend his time in retirement.

Sipping Burgundy wines in Burgundy is on the itinerary.

“I went to Dunsborough for a holiday with our son 15 or 16 years ago and it cost me $150,000,” he said of buying a house there. It has been rented since but on arriving back in the West, they will shift to Dunsborough full time.

Bob, described by one workmate as a “perfect gentleman”, has seen many changes in the industry during his long service from the price per ton(ne) of steel rising from $250 to $1800 and falling back to its current levels of “about S1250 due to imports”.

That and the changing face of steel properties, especially pipe.

“The grades of pipe have changed with the hot-weld pipe replaced by cold-form pipe. Guys used to phone asking how come the pipe doesn’t bend like normal but bent flat.”

Bob began his working career with Sandover’s (“They sold everything from a pin to huge tyres — “perhaps the only thing they didn’t sell was food”) and then I shifted to Sandover Metals in a place called Department 19. It was a general steel division and we were selling stuff to the North-West in 1962-3 — Newman and Tom Price.

Sandover Metals became Steelmark, which in turn became Smorgon and Bluescope. After redundancy, he ventured to Fero where he says the people are the key to the operation.

“When I worked for Sir Eric Sandover it was family run but then everything became corporate where you were just a number. The chance to get back to a family-owned business and the Franco Family was just great.

“It’s all about the atmosphere and you are part of a team. When I was in hospital, Andy Franco visited me and told me not to worry about anything. That was fantastic.”

“When I was in hospital and looked down at my stitches, I re-evaluated the situation,” he said. That’s when he decided to call work quits when he reached 65.

With retirement day arrived, Bob is still unsure of what non-steel pursuits will engage his brain.

“My son has insisted we get a boat, complete with a galvanised trailer (naturally), and I will probably play golf and there will be plenty of travel.

Farewell Bob.

NB: His replacement will be Nigel Birkhead, who is currently working in Queensland.