Joe Kijanski celebrates his 90th birthday, and 63 years at Martin’s.
Posted on 01/07/2013 Category: General Martins Rubber blog
Having started with Martin’s in 1950, it is a real pleasure to still have Joe coming in to work one day a week, at the age of 90. Our company, being established as it was back in 1865 has always valued length of service amongst our staff, but even we have to admit that 63 years of service is an exceptional achievement. Joe has been an integral part of our expertise since Bert Campbell offered him a job in May 1950, having been impressed with how efficiently Joe welded up his broken golf trolley, in stark contrast to Bert’s efforts – and Bert was wise enough to recognise that Joe’s skills were of value to Martin’s Rubber and would help the company to progress on the manufacturing side. At the time, Joe was working as a dental technician, having arrived in England just after the end of World War 2 during which, like so many other people, his life was turned upside down. Before the war he trained as a technician in Warsaw, and the German invasion of Poland saw him impressed into a forced labour Stuka aircraft factory near Bremerhaven, where with his compatriots he was made to machine aircraft parts under strict supervision – on one occasion the german supervisor set the equipment up incorrectly, which Joe spotted, but decided to follow instructions to the letter, so the resulting manufacturing run was all scrap. This lead to a spell inside a concentration camp to make an example of him, during which time Joe decided he had to get out of Germany. Once he was released back into the aircraft factory to work, Joe set about planning his bid for freedom, and after some time managed to organise an eventful journey south by train to Austria with a fellow escapee, where they finally managed to cross into Switzerland and on to Italy, joining up with Polish Forces taking part in the allied invasion of Europe from the south. Following the end of the war in Europe, Joe and his wife Barbara came to England and were billeted in a repatriation camp at Hiltingbury in Chandlers Ford, on the outskirts of Southampton. It was while he was here that he first met the Campbell family, who lived nearby, and our Chairman Pauline Hooper (nee Campbell) remembers him babysitting for her younger sister, with her father Bert telling Joe to take wheelbarrow loads of their apples back to the camp to distribute. Working for Martin’s Rubber in the post war years saw Joe manufacture mould tools for things as diverse as feet for the Queen’s bed on the Royal Yacht Britannia, to fitting out Lady Docker’s private yacht “Shemara” with rubber flooring, as well as a whole host of defence, nuclear and aerospace products. This versatility was always a mark of the abilities of the company, and Joe has played a full part in that, passing on his skills to the current generation since both Adam and Paul Hooper grew up around the company, and were trained in toolmaking and engineering skills by Joe and their father Brian. When Joe came up to retirement age at 65 he said that he would prefer to remain busy, and as such the company was delighted to be able to have him continue to work for us on a part time basis, and, whilst our toolmaking facilities have moved on significantly in recent years with the addition of Solidworks 3D modelling and Hypermill 5 axis machining for example, we recognise that the core traditional skills remain as relevant today as they always have been when it comes to problem solving and finding the most appropriate solutions to any given challenge. To have Joe as a reference point for our current staff and apprentice is a real bonus, and, while he is undoubtedly beginning to slow down these days, it is inspirational to see Joe still here one day a week, keen and interested and making a contribution to our activities. As a mark of respect, our Tooling Manager Shaun Gunn designed and manufactured on our DMU 50 5 axis machine a superb memento from solid aluminium which we presented to Joe today, marking his 90th year and 63 years of continuous service to Martin’s Rubber. We are extremely grateful for his contribution to the company over the years, and we look forward to seeing him at work for as long as he wishes to continue; thank you Joe.
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