For this edition of our team I had a chat with Steve, who’s history with Gardinia goes right back to when company started out in 1983.
Steve retired back in 2015, however has been working the odd day here at Gardinia to keep us all in check.
So to start things off how long did you work at Gardinia?
My first day at Gardina was Monday 19 September 1983 and I stayed until the summer of 1988 the first time around. I returned to the Gardinia fold in February 1996. In March 2011 I semi retired and supposedly fully retired in March 2015. Like the proverbial bad penny I still turn up doing the odd day here and there.
How did you get the job at Gardinia?
I was working as a supervisor for Magnet and Southerns at the time and had been studying City and Guilds, radio servicing, electronics and microprocessor systems at Huddersfield Technical College. I applied for lots of jobs in electronics without success. There were 2 jobs advertised in The Huddersfield Examiner at the same time for Managers. I made the decision that the window industry was were my experience lay, so I applied for both of them. I was unsuccessful at the first interview, but got the job at Gardinia. In retrospect Gardina has turned out to be the better opportunity.
Do you enjoy still working the odd day here and there?
Short answer yes. As long as I am able to and if my skills and experience are needed I hope to carry on for a bit longer yet.
When you were full time what was your favourite part of your job?
A good question and hard to answer. I have had so many varied roles at Gardinia over the years and I have enjoyed them all. I never much minded the routine things as long as there were objectives to achieve that were challenging.
Your favourite Gardinia product range and why?
Tongue in cheek (Acknowledgement to Trevor Kaye).
The Gardinia or later named System G. It had three seals not two, which had to be better. It was also made from powders not chips thats definitely better. The facts are true.
The most difficult project you have undertaken when full time at Gardinia?
Two very similar and unpleasant projects. The first in 1984 in the early days of Gardinia, after VAT was levied on home improvements for the first time. This caused a massive reduction in orders not only at Gardinia but across the whole industry. Outgoings had to be reduced, people had to be made redundant. The company just couldn’t afford to employ them. The second one was when the company ceased its own manufacturing. This again resulted in redundancies. It is not easy telling staff they have lost their employment. I know how it feels having been made redundant twice in my career.
What did you do before Gardinia?
Soon after I left school I joined the RAF. After leaving the RAF I had few (i’m not going to say how many) jobs over the next 3/4 years. It was at the end of this period that I first started working in the window industry (1976) at Heywood Williams, then Magent Southerns (1980). Then I came to Gardinia and have been in home improvement industry ever since.
Funniest memory of event which happened here at Gardinia?
The Document L seminar for trade customers. That was a blast.
Was it easy to settle in to retirement?
No it wasn’t. I’m glad that I took semi retirement and worked only 3 day a week for 4 years, that prepared me some what. After 49 years of having a fixed routine for a large period of the week, something which you have no real control over, a job which fills many many hours of a week. Suddenly you have no routine and 168 hours of a week to fill. I can understand why some people find that difficult to cope with. It is a massive shock to your system and it takes time to come to terms with it.
What’s the best thing about been retired?
For me it’s the freedom to do what I please big or small whenever I want. I like my odd day of work, but I don’t miss working.
Have you taken up any new hobbies since retirement?
I have lost count as I said 168 hours a week is a lot of time to fill. The one I thought I would achieve has gone by the wayside, I’m nearly 69 and I still haven’t got a train set.
If you had to choose a favourite hobby what would it be?
I have two and they are related, both being creative. I enjoy my photography and video, which I have done for many years. The hobby I have taken up since retiring is painting and that I love. My watercolours suck, but I keep trying. The medium I love and enjoy the most is coloured pencils. I can’t draw so I do need an outline to work to.
You now split your time between Spain and the UK, what’s your favourite thing about Spain?
It goes without saying the weather is much better. I enjoy my food much more in Spain, especially if eaten outdoors, which is most of the time.
I hear the views are fantastic from your home in Spain, can we see some photos?
You certainly can:
The above video was filmed just down the road.
Favourite movie of all time?
I can’t remember anything about it, but the first movie I ever saw was Rob Roy McGregor at the cinema in Guisborough North Yorkshire. When I was small we used to go and stay in the Summer for a week with my Mum’s cousin who lived in Guisborough.
Name your favourite cuisine?
A slow cooked venison casserole, with fresh baked bread, on a crisp Autumn day.
Favourite place to go on holiday?
I have always enjoyed the places I have gone on holiday to. Having said that my trip across Canada in 2017 has been the best so far. As I have told you many many times both when I was there and since I returned, it was Awesome with a capital “A.”
Beer or Wine?
When I was younger it was beer, nowadays I am more of a wine person.
How do you unwind?
Reading always has been. If I am really stressed a fast paced long walk.
Do you have a personal philosophy?
I am not big on religion, but there is lots of good advice in the christian bible. To coalesce that question into a one sentence answer. “I try to treat other people as I would expect to be treated.”
Don’t get me wrong I have been known to transgress on that.
Something people would be surprised to know about you?
Don’t tell anybody, but I am an introverted extrovert.
Who has influenced you the most?
Squadron Leader Maurice Harvey
He was the SATCO (Senior Air Traffic Control Officer) at RAF Fairford. He was a sticker for discipline. However he was a very fair commanding officer, and I had great respect for him. I remember one weekend (When we might be waiting for hours between aircraft returning from overseas with very little if anything to do) he broke on of his own rules by going off to the Officers Mess. When he came back he had bottle of beer for everyone.
And finally, the most important question… Tea or Coffee?
Breakfast Tea (T2 – Morning Sunshine blend)
Elevens’s Coffee (Ground only – blends Various)
Rest of Day Tea (T2 – Morning Sunshine or Fench Earl Grey)