ELDERS Past Employees Association (EPEA) held a get together and membership drive at the historic Prince of Wales Hotel, Bunbury, last week and the response was overwhelming.
President Richard Gapper welcomed more than 50 attendees and had a hard time quietening the mob, relishing catching up, telling tales and reminiscing about all manner of events, most of which had undoubtedly been significantly embellished over time.
Formerly known as the Retired Officers Association, which was started by Elders former State manager Alf Buttrose 53 years ago, the organisation recently changed its name to EPEA to be more inclusive and accommodate current employees.
A sign of the times then and still the case today, many in attendance had worn different coloured shirts other than pink during their careers, but that proved an irrelevance as the camaraderie for the agricultural industry, their clients and each other shone through.
In his welcome address Mr Gapper said EPEA currently had 138 members, 90 per cent of whom were aged 70 years or older.
The oldest on the day was Peter Candy who will turn 93 in May and travelled to Bunbury with Peter Moulton, Kevin Kerr, Ross Coole and Vern Winter.
As outlined by EPEA secretary David McManus that car load had an average age of 85.5 years, an average of 43.4 years of service to Elders and an average of 27.5 years membership to the association.
“You can see why we are keen to encourage new members,” Mr Gapper said.
“With support like this it would be our hope to hold an annual meeting in Bunbury, probably in March.
“Currently we have two meetings and an AGM each year – a Christmas function in Perth in December, one in Mandurah in February and another in Perth’s northern suburbs in July.
“It’s a great chance for like-minded people to get together over a few beers, have lunch and have a yarn.”
Mr Gapper said the association received much-appreciated financial support from Elders Limited and it was pleasing the company always made the effort to have some members of its senior management team attend every function.
Zones sales performance manager Ian White, who represented Elders Limited at the Bunbury event, said the company was enjoying a particularly good year, in part due to efforts in WA.
“At the six months mark we are already above budget and on track to post a strong result at the end of our financial year which finishes in September,” Mr White said.
“We have come through our tough times and seven or eight years ago it was not such a great place to be in, but thanks to sound management and good leadership from the likes of Malcolm Jackman, Mark Allison and James Cornish here locally, we are now well and truly through that.
“People like you here today are also integral to making Elders what it is,” he said.
“On a personal note I look around and I see people like Orest Luzny and Lorraine Downie who are still working at Elders each with almost 50 years of service to their name.
“And then I see Pip Phillips, who also farmed at Williams and taught me so much about how to run a successful branch, Gary Nicol who taught me how to clerk a trade sale and a legend of an auctioneer in Jeff Lynn.
“And who could forget a lesson from Dennis Roberts in how to fold up the banner properly after a stud sale.
“I remember being Jeff’s second string auctioneer at a clearing sale where we had 300 lots plus sheep listed and only 26 registered buyers turned up.
“He said to me we’re in a bit of bother here, but somehow, I don’t know how, we managed to sell everything.”
Mr White said some of the significant recent developments for Elders had been bringing the fertiliser account back to CSBP, buying back 20pc of the insurance business (which had been sold in the ‘dark days’), opening a branch in Coorow and the purchase of the SDEA real estate business in the South West, which had meant another 72 people wearing pink shirts in the region.
Other purchases included Queensland horticultural company Ace Ohlsson, Victorian livestock firm Kerr & Co which handles 500,000 sheep and 20,000 cattle annually and a 30pc stake in livestock finance company StockCo.
To enquire about membership contact EPEA president Richard Gapper or email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 0427 422 199.