From tea-boy to manager

After half a century working for the same company a well-known local man has finally hung up his 4X2.

Bob Short MBE began working at Sydenhams in Poole in 1962, which was then a timber import company – not the enormous builders’ merchants it has now become.

Not only was Bob’s first job to make the tea, but he had to buy it out of his wages that were 15 pounds a month.

The father-of-two has worked for three generations of the Sherborne family that have owned the 138-year-old company since 1920.

Grandfather Bob, 66, who has been married to Liz for 44 years, was awarded an MBE in 1994 for work with the Special Constabulary, which he served for 30 years.

He joined JT Sydenham & Co Ltd at Hamworthy Wharf in Poole a month after completing his “O” Level exams.

He didn’t realise then that he would be at the same firm half a century later.

Bob, who lives in Corfe Mullen, said: “I started as the office boy where my duties included making the tea and coffee, which I had to provide, for the staff of four including me.

“Even the then Branch Manager would arrive on most days about 10 o’clock from the main Poole office to have a cup of my coffee!”

Bob worked his way to become wages clerk and in 1970 went out on the road as one of Sydenham’s representatives.

He then became yard manager and transport manager and in 1999 when the Sherborne group of companies was amalgamated he became “Admin and Bulk Timber Purchase Manager”

Bob said: “After a short period it was decided to start a new branch within the Poole grounds specifically to purchase softwood and keep the growing branch network supplied and so Timber Direct was born and I had the pleasure of being the manager of the new branch.

“In 2008 I decided that it was time to think of doing less so I was fortunate to be given a part time role and so gave up the management of the branch but continued to manage the transport fleet which by this time had risen to over 50 trucks.

“I have continued in this role with a few extra little jobs since then but with the permission of the boards decided to finish altogether on 31 August 2012 having completed a little over 50 years service with the one company.

“Although I have mostly loved the job and given my all I must pay tribute to the present owners James and Charlie Sherborne who have supported me in all that I have done and helped when I was seriously ill a few years ago.

“I have had the pleasure to work for three generations of their family who have always been kindness itself.

“I wish the company every success for the future and trust they will continue to go from strength to strength which they deserve.”

Sydenhams’ managing director James Sherborne said: “Bob has been a wonderful asset to Sydenhams over all these years, he has a huge personality and his loyalty to our Company has never ceased.
“We wish him a long and happy retirement, as it is richly deserved.”