News

John Aitken Retires

John our General Manager for 16 years has decided to retire at Christmas 2015.  

That is a well deserved tea break! 

All the staff wish him well for the future.

Bob Adams will be taking over the General Manager position.

See the Otago Daily Times article below ...

Surprise gift just his cup of coffee

Giltech Precision Castings general manager John Aitken with his farewell gift, made by staff at the North Dunedin premises.

Some say John Aitken has worked in the foundry business so long he has bronze in his blood.

And because the 74-year-old has drunk - give or take - half a dozen cups of coffee every day of his 51-year working career, there was probably quite a bit of caffeine in there as well, he said after his official retirement party at Giltech Precision Castings yesterday.

And the present he received from staff was the most intriguing thing Giltech had made recently, Mr Aitken said.

‘‘It's probably the most difficult thing - the cleverest thing - that's ever been made here, I think.

‘‘It's a farewell card with everyone's signature on, cast in bronze, together with a coffee cup and a spoon - I'm a big coffee drinker - all cast in one piece.''

The most impressive part of the farewell gift was that it was a complete surprise, he said.

‘‘I know everything that goes on around here, but the days I haven't been working, the staff have been very busy.

‘‘They've been keeping it a secret from me, which is pretty hard to do.''

Mr Aitken, who has been general manager at the North Dunedin business for the past 16 years, spent most of his life working in various parts of the industry in Dunedin.

He started out as a ‘‘cost of management'' accountant for Methvens in 1964, but due to some unusual circumstances, found himself still in the castings industry half a century later.

‘‘I took the job because I needed to get some experience as an accountant before I could become a chartered accountant.

‘‘One thing led to another ... the company was taken over and everyone else left, and I was the only one left standing, basically.''

Despite training as an accountant, Mr Aitken said he had spent most of his career out in the workshop, working with foundry workers.

‘‘I'm a hands-on man, so I don't spend my life looking at books and things.

‘‘Places I've worked like this [Giltech] have only had about 20 people, so you know exactly what's going on all the time, where it's going on or where it's not going on.''

Giltech made anything for anyone who wanted something made out of metal, he said.

The company was a ‘‘niche manufacturer'', making things like the jet units for jet-boats and valves for the Royal New Zealand Navy's Anzac frigates, Mr Aitken said.

‘‘The excitement of life in this place is that we do things that other people can't do any more.''

Mr Aitken said now he and his wife were both retired, they planned to travel to the United States and Europe, initially.

‘‘Then we'll take it from there.

‘‘I'll stir up the old bridge card skills again - you've got to keep your brain going somehow.''

-john.lewis@odt.co.nz