This month, HGV fitter Mick Dixon, 72, tell us about how times have changed during his long career with Jempsons…
Tell us about life when you started with the company…
I started in 1961. Mr Jempson Snr was in charge when I started. The good thing about him was that you could hear him coming because he always had a cough. So if you were doing something you shouldn’t, you knew you had to stop!
What did your job entail then and how has it changed?
I used to do all the breakdowns. The biggest one I can remember is when an engine failed at the Mont Blanc Tunnel and I had to go out there, repair the engine and bring the lorry back home. I was on call 24/7 so used to be sitting on the side of the bed at 1, 2, 3am, talking the drivers through their breakdowns to see if they could get themselves going. I used to be able to go back to sleep, but my wife couldn’t! Now we’ve got newer lorries, it doesn’t happen so much. In the old days, you took things to bits and repaired them, but these days they’re run by a computer and you fit new parts. We were called fitters and mechanics in those days, but they’re called technicians now. Now I’m part-time and in the workshop, doing a bit of driving and helping out with servicing.
Any plans to slow down a bit?!
I should be retired but I always say you need something to do. I mean, I play golf, but you can’t play golf seven days a week! I will carry on as long as my head is in gear and there’s work.
The Robertsbridge team celebrate the launch
The search for British Gypsum Driver Of The Year has begun and the team at Robertsbridge decided to mark the launch in style.
Jess Tallis and Ashlei Burgess organised a fun-filled event which saw drivers popping in for coffee and home-baked treats, picking up info packs, taking part in quizzes and even posing for some snaps, complete with props!
The observation period for the contest, which concludes in September, sees the drivers assessed via vehicle telematics, driving infringements and accident stats. Good luck to the team and watch this space!
This month, employees Shirley Bailey and Christine Cummings fill us in on life on the payroll team…
When did you start working at Jempsons?
S: I joined in December 1999. They started me off doing self-billing for British Gypsum and I thought, ‘If I have to do this again, I am leaving!’
C: September 2016. I came in because they needed an extra pair of hands.
How has your job changed since you started?
S: I used to check the tachographs against payroll when they were the old wax discs. Technology and legislation have changed the way we work hugely.
C: We have now centralised all personnel records and they are filed in one office, to keep information safe and up to date with Data Protection regulations.
What do you like most about working for Jempsons?
S: The office is extremely friendly and we have a laugh.
C: Yes, for me, it’s the people. I miss work if I am away. I also like the role because it’s varied and very black or white. Everything has to balance and it’s all very logical. I am not a grey area person!
Are there any anecdotes from your time in the office?
Both: What happens in the payroll department has to stay in the payroll department!
This month we are bringing you an insight into the diary of British Gypsum Contract Manager Stephen Parker, 46, from Faversham. He works at the Robertsbridge office and joined the company in 2014.
“My role within the company is to manage the company’s activity on our main contract with British Gypsum, which is for the distribution of plaster board and related products across London and the south east.
“Our main areas of focus are safety and the zero-harm culture, and our on-time delivery performance which is set at 99.5 per cent. These requirements go along way to shaping my work load on a day-to-day basis.
“This is my average Monday. My alarm is set for 5.50am. I have a coffee and check emails on my phone to ensure there are no early morning issues at Robertsbridge. I aim to leave home between 6.45-7.15am. It’s a 39-mile journey from Faversham to Robertsbridge, which usually takes just over an hour, so I generally arrive between 8-8.30am.
“Not that I am a creature of habit, but it’s coffee time while my PC boots up, and then I catch up with the team in the office and establish if everything and everyone is OK, and that everything is running on time.
“Generally, on a Monday, once I’ve checked and responded to any emails, it’s time to generate the weekly driver bonus sheets, which takes a little over an hour, taking various information feeds from our systems. This is then emailed to all relevant stake holders and displayed on the notice boards for the drivers.
“There is a morning production meeting with the customer at 9.45am, which is normally attended by our Operations Manager, and following this we generally catch up with any issues or workstreams that have come from the meeting.
“Next is a 5S housekeeping check on the two areas of the site that are my responsibility – the unit/car park and the diesel pumps. Once completed, these need to be recorded and any corrective actions arranged and documented.
“Back to the office, now it’s time to update the KPIs for the previous week, and display them on the notice board.
“With safety, one of the key business requirements, safety-related conversations are recorded through the customer’s system, so there’s some admin required for anything relevant.
“Between 12-2pm I try to just make myself available to cover the phones or the front desk while the operations team have their lunches (as I tend not to).
“As we get into the afternoon, I again review and respond to any emails, customer requests, conference calls, any of the previous week’s payroll anomalies or anything urgent that comes along.
“There are always project work streams, driver development, KPI and safety reports as well as customer-specific tasks to be attended to.
“The day generally draws to a conclusion between 5.30-6pm. Following the return 39-mile drive home, I do one last check of my emails!”
A piece on the refurb in the British Gypsum newsletter
The Jempsons team at the Robertsbridge office started 2018 in a brand-spanking new space after an impressive refurb. British Gypsum Production Manager Tanya Young implemented the project, ensuring the work was completed in December, after just eight weeks. The state-of-the-art office includes the latest technology and equipment and now provides a spacious and harmonious working environment.
Meanwhile, in other news, we had our five minutes of fame on January 16 when we appeared (albeit briefly!) on BBC Two’s Inside The Factory. The programme saw Gregg Wallace exploring Ribena’s Gloucestershire factory and a Jempsons lorry was seen loading up the blackcurrants. You can catch us on iPlayer now!