There were a few hectic weeks between the current manager planning his move to Sydney and me taking over his role.
When I was at sea, we were taught to delegate, so I advertised for an operations manager, while I tried to understand the full aspect of managing the office and the staff.
I hired an ex-air cargo man from a freight agent who I thought would have the wherewithal to grasp what we did for a living and to organise the warehouse operation and the delivery / pick-up drivers.
It did not work out all that well and after a few weeks he left to return to ‘normal’ air freight rather than fast pick up and shipping to be delivered overnight to London or Los Angeles.
His replacement was not much better and in both cases I had Helen show both new ‘boys’ the ropes and how things worked.
Life was hectic, so I shut my office door and thought of where I had gone wrong in training the two failed operational managers.
Then it dawned on me, so I went out to speak to Helen and told her that from this minute on she was the Operations Manager for Victoria .
She tried to change my mind because in her mind she was a secretary, but she was far more than a secretary, she already ran the operation and had tried her best to train the two failed operation’s managers. It was not her fault that they had failed, it was my fault for hiring them.
Eventually she came round to my way of thinking and she moved her desk to overlook the warehouse. The warehouse staff were mixed in their reaction to Helen’s new position, but they all knew that she knew the operation backwards, and she would not put up with any skiving or shirking.
Now I had a female operations manager and a female sales manager (who had joined Skypak before I arrived).
Now I could start learning about budgets, sales targets, and writing reports to head office.
Since joining the company I had been concerned that there was something missing to gender pride, by the staff, in the company and how they saw themselves as Skypak employees.
I then realised that they did not have a uniform – nobody in the company had a uniform.
In addition, although we had our vans painted in company colours, they did not have the company logo on the roof of the delivery vans – nor did any other courier company at that time have a roof logo.
First thing first, we had the logo painted on the roof because the people who made the decision to use a particular company would never see the logo on the side of the van from the 40th floor, but they would see the log on the roof of our vans.
That was fixed quickly.
Uniforms – my problem was that I did not have a budget to uniform the staff, because none of the staff in Sydney had a uniform.
I wanted yellow shirts and blue badges and flashes.
so that the staff had a feeling of pride.
Yellow shirts and blue trousers or shorts in summer.
Three shirts, trousers and shorts and how to hide the cost because I did not have a budget. The roof painting of the van was easy because I put the cost down to ‘repairs’ & touch ups for our new owner IPEC, see the rear door of the van below.
So, I spread the uniform cost over several weeks of ‘stationery’. I got away with it for some time even though Max, the head office accountant, wanted to know why we were using so much stationery. . . .
After some weeks of wearing the uniform there was an incident with one staff member (male) who arrived in work not wearing his yellow shirt. I asked him why he was not in uniform – he told me that his mother had failed to provide him with a clean shirt – she had not washed his previous day’s shirt.
The staff member was in his early twenties, so the fact that he was incapable of washing his own clothes was unacceptable.
On pay day I had his weekly wage sent to his mother, so when he signed for his wages, he was surprised not to receive any.
When he asked where his money was . . . I told him to ask his mother.
From that day on he was always in a clean uniform shirt, as was everyone else who had witnessed our chat.
We had a small turnover of warehouse staff, but when we had a vacancy I would advertise and let the local government labour office know.
The first person to apply arrived in a singlet vest, shorts, flip flops, and he was unshaven. He had not made any effort dress accordingly for an interview, even if it was in a warehouse.
We had a short chat and I told him that he was unsuitable, and I thanked him for his time. He then produced a government card that was his record of applying for a job so that he could keep drawing unemployment pay.
I refused to sign, because I considered that he had not made any effort to even try to fill the vacancy. He became quite upset and abusive.
As I ordered him off the premises, I noticed his girlfriend sitting at the bottom of the office stairs.
She was dressed in a mix of westerner clothes, a Bolivian native style shawl and a Bolivian lady’s style hat, but I could see that she was not Bolivian.
The next interviewee was dressed as if he wanted the job and he looked intelligent and I thought he would fit the required roll.
We had a pleasant chat during which time I told him the area in which he would do pick-ups and delivery.
Once he knew of the area, he told me that because he was against tobacco, he would not be able to pick-up or deliver to/from Phillip Morse who had a cigarette factory in the area designated for the new driver.
This was the end of the interview because he had ruled himself out of the running. I was not going to hire anyone who had a problem with his job description. Also, Philip Morris was a major customer of Skypak.
I was then accused of discrimination and that he was going to report me to the authorities (which authorities??).
I reminded him that he had a problem with tobacco, and I required someone who did not have a problem with tobacco, which is why I was not offering him a job, but I did sign his record card for unemployment pay.
He left, and I never did hear from the ‘authorities’.
I did find the right person for the job, and I did not have any problem with the pick-up & deliveries in that area. This driver stayed with the company for years.
The pleasurable part of the promotion was being invited to Sydney to be ‘appointed’ as the State Manager, but also to receive my own car.
The General manager gave me his car, which was a Ford Fairmont and all I had to do was drive it the thousand kilometers back to Melbourne, a job I was happy to accept.
Only six months or so earlier I was on top of the world to have the operational vehicle for my own use, now I had a Fairmont!
The New South Wales registration plates on the Fairmont spelt out ‘SKYPAK’ instead of the normal letters & numbers.
The car was now based in Victoria so I had to get it registered locally, (Victoria) but my personality would not allow me to keep the SKYPAK plates, so I just ordered the standard plates, BCN364 I think was the number issued.
Flamboyancy was not for me; I left that aspect of the job to the sales staff.