An entire career at one company is almost unheard of but Les Monk, ASKIN Performance Panel’s Senior Sales and Estimating Advisor is celebrating his 40th year working in the business.
Annette Patterson who works in Accounts Payable has known Les for almost all of those 40 years and says when she tells people she’s been with ASKIN for 28 years, they thinks it’s amazing.
“I tell them that’s nothing. I know a fella who’s been there for 40 years,” she says. “It just seems incredible these days to stay with one company, but it’s a company that you feel supported in and a fabulous place to work, so you don’t think of going anywhere else.”
Les started with ASKIN (formerly known as Austral Insulation) August 30 1976. At the time, ASKIN had been established for 12 years as a family owned business with Frank James at the helm. The business consisted of three manufacturing and office locations across three cities: Melbourne, Perth and Sydney.
Les was 22 years young when he joined the first panel line business to be established in Australia. He started working as a contractor on site, with a group of guys known as the ‘Swan Hill Boys’. In fact the ‘Swan Hill Boys’ all continued to work in the panel industry in some capacity for many years.
Long time friend and former work colleague, Bill Patterson who retired recently after 38 years at ASKIN, remembers working with Les and the ‘Swan Hill Boys’. He recalls that ‘occupational health and safety wasn’t a big deal back then on a building site and they got away with a lot’. He describes working off a couple of planks used as scaffolding put together by hand, with no scissor lifts or material handling equipment.
Bill hasn’t let Les forget about the time they were working on a job in Mildura in 1978. Les was working on a scaffold when he accidently dropped his hammer! from 10 meters high.
“It hit me in the head,” Bill reveals.
“I had to go to hospital and needed a couple of stitches. We were all rough and ready back then with no helmets and we still laugh about that now.”
Regardless of the injury inflicted, the two are still life long friends and try to catch up whenever they can for their infamous Friday lunches.
When business was looking for a new salesman in 1980 Les fitted the requirements perfectly. His colleagues all say ‘he certainly has the gift of the gab’. He commenced work at the Moorabbin office on Chesterville Road, Melbourne. At the time, panel was still manufactured using a vertical panel machine.
Being in the panel industry for 40 years has resulted in Les knowing the business from the ground up. He’s got great relationships throughout the industry and friends and co-workers describe Les as ‘loyal, straight down the line and doesn’t hold back’. They all comment that he likes a good chat and how much his customers love him.
“There’s not many people who can say they have worked for a company for that long. They usually move on to somewhere else,” Bill shares. “People have tried to poach him along the way, but he’s loyal and stayed put.”
In the time Les has been working at ASKIN, Les has had three boys, Brett, Rohan and Jarrod, now all grown up and all working in the panel industry in some capacity. He’s made life long friends at work, and his industry knowledge, experience and character are irreplaceable.
ASKIN CEO, Steve Clarke says Les’ commitment and loyalty to ASKIN for 40 years is outstanding and commendable.
“Les really is the go to guy for knowledge and is a great support to the newer generation coming through. He’s dedicated and hard working and always answers his phone regardless if he’s off sick,” Steve says.
“He is an absolute asset to this company and we hope Les can hang around for another 10 years and make it to 50 years at ASKIN.”
There have been a lot of changes in 40 years. High visibility vests and helmets didn’t exist on building sites. The office didn’t have mobile phones, computers, or even a fax machine. ASKIN used to be known as Austral Insulation. Yes, a lot has changed in 40 years, but one thing hasn’t! Les still loves a good chat!