Thursday, May 07, 2009

Grey Army on the march

A CULTURAL shift in recent years has put a bit of colour back in the cheeks of a big chunk of the population.
Now, hair dye sales could suffer because in some ways it’s becoming cool to "go gray".
Authorities seemed to take ages to wake up to the wealth of experience that older workers could offer.
A decade or so ago any 30-something worker might have cringed and checked their superannuation payout date at the first appearance of a grey hair (on the head, I mean).
But in recent years, a procession of labour market and social commentators has extolled the virtues of recycling mature workers from the metaphorical scrapheap of retirement and semi-retirement and into the workforce.

JAN D’Arcy could watch the trend with a smug smile. She long ago recognised the reliability and skill of older people and in 1997 became one of the first franchisees of the referral agency The Grey Army.
With area including the Redlands, Jan has assembled a battalion of "tradies", including builders, carpenters, tilers, painters, gardeners, plumbers, drainers, electricians, general handymen, pest controllers, roofers and domestic and commercial cleaners.
She says one of the rewards of her agency work has been the steady stream of thank-you calls and letters from satisfied customers – proving that grey is good because the jobs get done and well.
This week, however, a Thorneside client called to praise a house-painting crew, including some younger members, for their helpful and cheerful attitudes.
Jan makes it clear she still believes the younger generations can do a good job but she says The Grey Army’s soldiers are generally aged over 40 and qualified in their fields.
She ensures all her listed workers – offering services from lawnmowing to house extensions – have a customer focus.
Many have been on her books since day one.

SHE has enjoyed watching the excitement of some as they have returned to their beloved trades late in life – and thoroughly enjoyed the experiences.
Jan was thrilled when a carpenter who had migrated from New Zealand but did not for some years want the hassle of big jobs finally gained his Queensland builder’s licence, thanks to his work with The Grey Army.
"He qualified because he had been working with a registered builder, who gave him the reference he needed," she says.
With superannuation investments falling in the global economic gloom, The Grey Army may enlist new soliders but Jan says she will keep her focus on getting the right person for the job and keeping the customer satisfied.

Thanks for joining me to meet the great people in the marvellous community of classified advertising. This column has appeared in The Redland Times, a Fairfax Media newspaper.

Cup of concrete toasts memory of dad's one-liners

THE awesome sense of humor of the late Glenn Prior, of Thornlands, overflowed into the "In Memoriam" notice his family placed to mark the first anniversary of his death.
"We’ve all had our cup of concrete but we all still miss you heaps," the notice proclaimed.
Brendon, one of Glenn’s two sons, said the reference to concrete stemmed from one of his dad’s favourite sayings.
"Dad was full of one-liners like ‘busy as a one-legged tap dancer’ or whatever – they just came out to suit the situation," Brendon said.
"But his favourite was to offer any whingers a cup of concrete and he had an add-on that we weren’t game to put in the paper."
The five words in the ‘add-on’ must remain a family secret but Glenn Prior obviously didn’t tolerate any bull….

BRENDON, 38, said his dad had been born at Monto and had grown up at Maryborough and Toowoomba, serving an apprenticeship as a panel beater, spending about a decade in the Royal Australian Air Force and finally settling for a new career in the finance industry.
In 1974, the Priors were in Darwin when Cyclone Tracy hit.
The family – Glenn, his wife Pat, their sons Brendon and Lee, their daughter Karen and all the extended family -- settled in Thornlands from 2000 on returning Queensland after more than a decade in Sydney.
Glenn Prior, who was a grandfather of six, had been most recently known as an LJ Hooker Financial Services franchise owner, Brendon said.
Brendon followed in father’s financial footsteps and is now the State manager of the Westpac Broker Unit.
The diagnosis of cancer in April 2007 might have been linked with Glenn’s ingestion of arsenic during his RAAF service in Vietnam and Cambodia, the son said.

"HE had a particular type of cancer caused by arsenic -- we don’t know for sure but apparently there was arsenic in benzene that was in the water supply (during Glenn’s overseas service)," Brendon said.
Pat said her husband had wanted only two things after the grim diagnosis -- to celebrate their 40th wedding anniversary and the next Anzac Day.
Glenn died at home on April 27, 2008, only weeks from his 58th birthday on May 18. Brendon said the mourners were "10 deep’ during his dad’s Mount Cotton funeral service last year.
"We were best mates and I was just so proud to be his son," Brendon said.

THANKS for joining me to meet the great people in the marvellous community of classified advertising. This column has appeared in The Redland Times, a Fairfax Media newspaper.

Heart beats like hammer for new career

WHEN Trent Cowan left Wellington Point High School a decade ago, he was delighted to gain a plumbing apprenticeship and the future looked rosy.
Three years later, however, the firm ran into financial difficulties and put off its workers.
The out-of-work apprentice had a "safety net" for such an emergency. "My dad (Rob Cowan) owns Metro Tiles at Capalaba and always needs workers so I was able to work with him," Trent says.
Trent gained a lot of satisfaction from not only the sales side of the business but also laying tiles from time to time.
Add the security of a regular income and a happy team and Trent says he did not need to think about any other work prospects for quite a while.

TRENT has surfed for many years so has spent much of his free time in the waves on Straddie or the Gold Coast. Fishing is another love, so Trent has often been out on Moreton Bay or offshore. His best recent catch was a 5kg, 80cm snapper, which he hooked late last year off the east side of Green Island.
As Trent reached his mid-20s, he began to think seriously about his future.
After his long association with the building industry he decided to seek a career in carpentry and obtained work experience with a builder who offered to take him on but then suffered a downturn and could not go ahead with the plan.
That’s why a "hardworking and reliable" 26-year-old with his own tools is again working as a tile specialist and has advertised for a carpentry apprenticeship.

HE wants to be able to finish a job and say "I built that". Apart from the promise of such pride in achievement, carpentry will take him outdoors and to various sites, rather than having him "stuck inside all day", he says.
He has been living at Manly but says he is about to move back to the Redlands, where he was "born and bred" and which he loves because of its "leafy environment" and sense of community.
A Redland City job would be ideal but Trent says he will travel to get that apprenticeship.
He is disappointed no one has called with an offer. Despite his ad appearing in the Positions Wanted section, he received several calls from applicants seeking an apprenticeship – which is a puzzle as the ad was crystal clear.

TRENT certainly hasn’t given up hope. "I’ll just keep on trying I guess," he says. "I’m willing to do an unpaid trial for a month so maybe that will help."

Thanks for joining me to meet the great people in the marvellous community of classified advertising. This column has appeared in The Redland Times, a Fairfax Media newspaper.