A shot in the dark?

BBQ

The photograph was taken from within the Sydney building that I worked in the mid 1980’s.
On this particular day we were having a lunchtime BBQ, partly to farewell the person in the Arab costume, (he is at the BBQ), he was being transferred to the Middle East.

Between the building in which I worked, and the other building that can be seen was a public road – we were expanding fast.

mez01

The windows above the staff are part of the mezzanine floor, and this is where I worked. I was not responsible for the daily running of the Sydney operation, but I liked to watch the processing of the consignments. When the above was taken it was a presentation for a sales person’s birthday.

I had been working in Sydney for some months and had settled into my new position and was enjoying the whole experience and regional responsibility. 

I think it was a Thursday, which was pay day, that it happened. I was stretching my legs as I walked the length of the mezzanine floor and stopped in front of my desk.
I glanced down as the pay van was about to leave after handing over the staff wages to the paymaster. At that time, the nonmanagerial staff were paid in cash and the paymasters office was on the ground floor. All appeared in order, so I sat down at my desk. As soon as I sat down the robbery began.

To get everyone’s attention the robber fired a revolver, and the bullet went through the glass window in front of my desk, over my head and hit the air-conditioning pipes. The bullet drilled a hole through the glass window, which did not shatter.
The bullet bounced off the solid pipe and landed on my desk!
A few seconds earlier when I was looking down on to the operations floor the bullet would have hit me in the head.

Nobody was hurt during the robbery and the bandits escaped with the staff wages. 
The police arrived and took statements from everyone in the vicinity, including myself as the police removed the spent bullet. 
Some week later six or eight of us (I cannot remember the exact number) were required to attend court and testify against the accused – the police had caught the gunman and his accomplice. Of course, we made the newspapers, but the Company had already switched paying the staff via the banking system.  Paying in cash was a hangover from the origin of the Company when things were a lot smaller and easier to control.

 Sometime later I was asked to be in an advert for selling international newspapers – grey hair turning white opens a few doors.

newsfast

I do not know how many newspapers they sold using the above advert, in any . .

Reverse

Above is the reverse side of the advert explaining the details of Newsfast, basically whatever newspaper that you wished to receive Newsfast could supply.

This trip in to advertising caused a small demand. . . only from TNT Skypak of course . . . . 

advertadvertadvert01advert            advert02

Later the Company decided that they wanted a TV/cinema advert to illustrate transporting documents, via OBC, (On board courier) from London to Sydney.

There was a script of sorts, but the pleasant thing was that the Company had hired a professional film crew and we were out on the harbour in a large private ‘cruiser’, something like the one below, but not this one as it was about thirty years ago. 

Boat

There were four Company staff members, including myself and the film crew. I was to play the General Manager of the Sydney company, the Company’s financial controller played the finance man, and we had one of the female staff to play the secretary, but I cannot remember the fourth person’s position.
None of us had done any acting or film work in the past so to get us relaxed at 9.30 am the film ‘director’ opened a bottle of Champaign, and after a couple of glasses we were all relaxed!
We cruised around the harbour bridge area zig zagging in and out of the bridge’s shadow depending on the shot and the position of the sun.

www.rarehistoricalphotos.com

As the General Manager I was obliged to use the latest piece of executive equipment to show how important I was – a mobile phone like the one shown above. How things have changed.

A few weeks later we had the ‘Premier’ of the advert, which obviously concentrated on how TNT Skypak could satisfy the London client’s requirements.
With shots of the Sydney courier driving to the client’s office and the ‘Manager’ (me) asking for more speed of our cruiser (shots of the harbour bridge) as I had just received a telephone call (see above picture) that the urgent document had arrived early . . . also in the advert were shots of planes, and the processing system within the Company’s Sydney premises.

The four new acting sensations were just a flash in the pan, but the Champaign was very welcome.

I have never seen the advert since that ‘Premier’ showing, nor could I find it on the Internet. Perhaps it has been censored for being too corny.

A Shot In The Dark  

Skypak International

Logo1

I think that the background of Skypak makes quite an interesting story.

The seeds of the Company started in Japan, by two Australians.

One had arrived in Japan as a member of the Australian occupying forces after the defeat of Japan and had remained after the formal end of the occupation in 1952.

His command of the Japanese language was so good that he found work in the Japanese film industry playing the part of the ‘idiot’ westerner. Later he would be asked to read the news on television – in Japanese.

I understand that he met his future business partner at a function. His future business partner worked for the Australian Trade organisation in Tokyo.

In 1957 a Japanese company called Overseas Courier Services or OCS for short, was founded to offer speedy document delivery worldwide for Japanese businesses.

As part of this courier service OCS also offered newspaper subscriptions to Japanese businessmen living abroad, and one of their major destinations was Sydney in Australia.

Our ‘film star’ and Australian Trade official could see an opportunity, so they approached OCS and offered to be their agent in Sydney, because at that time the Japanese companies were expanding in Australia.

Their proposal was accepted, and they organised document deliveries in Sydney as well as Japanese newspapers.

Jap

Although the above picture is in English most of the newspapers were in Japanese.

Business was good and as the partners delivered inbound documents, they were asked to take documents back to Japan. Later they were asked to courier documents to the UK & the USA.

This new business would require a different name to OCS so Skypak International was born as an agent for OCS.

The idea of international newspapers took hold, so they started selling subscriptions to various newspaper such as the London Times & the Financial Times.

Times

FT

Demand for American papers generated the import of the New York Times. 

NYT They needed a name for this new product – and ‘Newsfast’ was born to compliment the ‘Document Courier’ service.

The company could not grow without opening an office in Melbourne, some might say the business capital of Australia, so Skypay International opened a Victorian office to service mainly the banking industry.

It was the banking industry that gave them their next idea. The ANZ Bank (Australia and New Zealand Bank) asked if Skypak could take their New Zealand share holder’s annual reports to New Zealand – and post them -Mailfast was born.

At that time (well before the internet) Australian companies had to issue an annual report of their business and each report would be posted to share holders who were located all over the world.
The postage cost was extremely high via Australia Post . . . .so Skypak Mailfast offered to ship the mail for the UK shareholders to London and post them all at local rates – they offered the ANZ Bank a package deal of airfreight and posting, which turned out to be below the price of Australia Post – sold, said the ANZ! 

There was a consideration that this might be illegal in Australia as the postal service was a Government controlled service.

It was illegal for anyone other than the post office to handle personal mail, but it was not illegal for business mail to be handled by anyone.
Mailfast had arrived and even managed to upset the UPU (Universal Postal Union) which is a UN organisation that coordinates postal policy across the world.

They could not fault the service because it was not illegal to airfreight business mail and to allow the destination post office to distribute the mail locally – all post offices currently offer this service and Skypak Mailfast was doing exactly that, by beating Australia Post rates for large volumes of the same type of mail – annual reports. 

This was the company that I had joined as their operations manager for Victoria.

sp

I spent my first day at work in Australia working alongside the warehousemen who processed the courier traffic.
I made sure that I went out to the airport, which was about 20-to-30 minute drive to see exactly how the system worked i.e lodging out going courier traffic and collecting inbound documents.

Later in the afternoon I was with one of the drivers to do pick-ups in the city centre. Just to clarify the pick-ups were courier documents not a lady of the night.

As the day ended for me, which was around 6.00 pm, the manager gave me the keys to one of the operational vehicles and said that I could take it home for the weekend, and that it had become my ‘company car’ when the office was closed, but it was to be available for anyone to drive during business hours. 

sky

I was over the moon, someone else was going to pay for the fuel, and Maureen could drive the second-hand car that I had bought for the family!
The two children in the picture are our son & daughter, my daughter is now 47 and my son 45, at least I would not have to say to them ‘if only’. The picture shows my ‘new’ (for me) company car.

With keys in my hand, it suddenly dawned on me that I did not know how to get home, and it was now dark and it was raining heavily. I had arrived by tram and train . . . 

I figured that as I had navigated around the world surely, I could find my way home without a map.
Sat-nav for cars had not been invented at that time and a street map was of little help in the dark while driving, so I headed for Port Philip Bay, because I reasoned that as soon as I got my feet wet, I would turn left and just follow the coast road until I recognised an area that I knew, such as the railways station.

map

The trip along the coast was about 40 km (25 miles) and in the rain it took me nearly two hours.

After the excitement of the day, driving an unfamiliar car in heavy rain and in darkness, and not being sure of where I was going or even where I was during the drive, it was great relief to reach home, eat a hot meal and fall exhausted into a comfortable bed. 

Welcome to Skypak and Australia.

I’ve been everywhere man