ACL employees trying to look ahead

MORE than 3000 years of expertise was lost from Australia's vehicle component production line when ACL Bearing Company closed its doors on Tuesday.

Melancholy and gratitude was yesterday expressed by five of the company's long-standing members as they reflected on more than 200 years of combined service.

It was the first day of life after ACL for team leaders Tony Hawkins, David Atkins, Kim Marsh, Tina Brundle and paymaster Gordon Ryan.

The group said up to three generations of families had cycled through the company's payroll during its 65-year operation in Launceston.

Although the immediate future may be certain for a few of the group, with pension meetings and relocations to sunnier states, some said they were unsure of what was  to come.

Writing a resume will be the first hurdle for many, Mr Marsh said.

``I wanted to work the first day I started working, and I still want to work,'' he said.

``One thing this place has done well is the in-house training - over my time the good thing has been that you could go and learn more while you were still working here.

``I think that's a plus and those skills should be sought as a valuable asset.''

Ms Brundle said many of their older employees gained work by having a connection in the factory line.

``I had my mum working here, aunties, my cousin, my dad for a while - when you started you actually knew somebody that was here,'' she said.

``When I started, Mum was working here, she came home and said `there's a job up there for six weeks'.

``We got the order finished but they never told me to stay or go, so I just stayed and they kept paying me; I actually started work before I had an interview.''

Mr Atkins said the signs of shutdown had been apparent during the motor industry's decline, and credited the work of administrator Grant Thornton for continuing its operations.

``You really didn't know from one year to the next,'' Mr Atkins said.

``Just before we'd knock off for Christmas holidays or something, we'd get a message saying `GMH have cut their production and so many people are going to go' - every five or six years there'd be retrenchment.

``We're the only powdered metallurgy site in Australia, I'm stunned, all the technology is gone, we've lost it now as far as Australia goes.

``We've finished, we're sad about it, stunned, and now we're moving on, that's about all we can say.

``I've got my dog out in the car, I'm going to take it for a walk . . . this afternoon I'm going home to write a resume up.''

Mr Atkins said many good memories came from working at the company and that bonds forged between workmates would not soon fade.

They said memorabilia was offered to workers, as well as a USB stick with about 600 photos celebrating the history of the factory and its workers.

Long-term ACL Bearing Company employees with 200 years' experience between them: Kim Marsh,  Tina Brundle, David Atkins, Gordon Ryan and Tony Hawkins. Picture: PHILLIP BIGGS

Long-term ACL Bearing Company employees with 200 years' experience between them: Kim Marsh, Tina Brundle, David Atkins, Gordon Ryan and Tony Hawkins. Picture: PHILLIP BIGGS

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