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JPM, my view from the inside. Frank Bird.


Frank Bird
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Here's one for you...  Development team. 

The older gent was Charles Weekes, a mentor, what a guy, we've all grown used to stepper reel units? They were his brainchild. More in future stories.

Left to right. David Mead, Tony Braggins, Ron Watts, yours truly, Charles Weekes, Charles (Bingham) Hazel.

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49 minutes ago, superbank said:

That's a seriously impressive pair of flares that Bingham is sporting! :clap:

Wow, flares "and" turtle neck sweaters..... Seen these in pictures, thought they were fictional.😉

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7 minutes ago, Road Runner said:

 

Just being cheeky but I don't suppose your in touch with anybody who would have old undiscovered rom files(or anything)?

 

 

Sorry chap no, although we still meet so with this forum now in mind I'll ask around.

Regards Frank

 

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On 16 June 2019 at 11:29 AM, mavroz said:

The guy 3rd from the left (Ron Watts) has an uncanny look of Mark Webber, the Aussie Ex F1 driver.

 

Im sure I've read an article on fruit snappa that featured Ron as one of the main men behind it.

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Ron Watts was the design guru behind a great deal of JPM's products and success. I was always happy to work with Ron as he was open with guidance and assistance, but as well as the work aspect he was a solid guy to know.  More to come in my recollections!

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2 hours ago, Frank Bird said:

Ron Watts was the design guru behind a great deal of JPM's products and success. I was always happy to work with Ron as he was open with guidance and assistance, but as well as the work aspect he was a solid guy to know.  More to come in my recollections!

Awesome read this is always nice to see and hear the story's of what it was like in the factory 

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Once again forgive me, these are personal observations so I’m bound to figure in them.

Ok, so early to mid 1970’s.

Flairs were the in thing, that and turtle neck sweaters, bright flowered shirts and JPM were reinforcing their early beginnings. We seemed to have found a recipe for machine development that combined decent technical detail and popular game play. Most of this was the brain child of Alan Parker, Howard Parker and Ron Watts the latter being the one that combined the ideas of the others into great artwork design.

At this time I had moved from reel build and test onto the Control Board test and from there a step, literally a step, through a newly opened break in the wall and onto the final machine test area. In reality this was taken quite soon after I had begun my employment with JPM and I was one of only a few individuals to have worked full time in all the areas within the JPM test area although others had obviously done similar with other smaller companies.

Alongside the production staff’s motley collection of vehicles, the car park was beginning to be populated by vehicles that displayed, quite rightly, the recent success of the company. 

BMW 5 series, Rover P6 3.5, Aston Martin ( ok second hand ) and Mercedes. 

Visitors regularly turned up in equally high class vehicles and it was not unusual to see the odd Rolls or Bentley parked out front as the larger than life operators and distributors, sometimes with their secretary's ( nudge nudge ) came to look around.

Let me necessarily outline at this point a little about the culture at JPM.

It was a Team. That is no hyperbole or unrealistic exaggeration.

That phrase has been hi-jacked over the years by wannabe’s with no real substance behind their claims, but it was used as a slogan in the JPM Marketing Strategy ( photo to follow ) and quite honestly, it was the truth. There was just not an us and them. The directors had a job to do as much as we all did but they often joined in with conversations at the factory door or came to have a chat and ask how things were and if anything could be improved, and they quite often were as a result.

They also bought Fish and chips ( no Domino’s in those days ) when there was a need to work late, sometimes all nighters, and it was far more that just ‘trying to stay with the boys’.

One of the biggest factual statements of the team culture was the payment structure.

As memory serves we were on about £30(ish) a week, now that wasn’t a lot of money and certainly less than I had been earning as a time served Joiner and latterly a Ceramic tiler, but I had to give it all up due to an injury which is why I took this temporary job in a factory!  (Nothing as permanent as temporary eh)

If you worked a flat 40 hours then no bonus was payable ( as I remember ) needless to say I never found out and when the shout of “Bonus is up” was shouted out, the top wage earner on the huge paper chart pinned to the wall was either Gary G, Gary P, or me or one of very few others.

I have recollections of monthly pay slips boosted by over £1,000 but 70-80 hour weeks were not unusual, and you were never, never ever, late.

I also have vague recollections of going over to the Plymouth Arms on bonus day, but I don’t remember going home.

That is not to say that this was a constant, I remember vaguely being asked to go the cabinet shop which had a large open area that was usually filled with cabinets but on this day was ominously empty. As we all circled Jack Jones he explained about the huge downturn in business and that he had to lay off 30% of the production staff, turning around he apologised individually as he picked every third person, I did the maths and the head count pretty quickly and stayed exactly where I was but filled with fear at the possibility of being laid off for the first time in my life.
 
A few months later most of those staff that were laid off were back anyway.

However it was just a little time later when a position was advertised internally for the development department and although I had not long been married and taken on quite a mortgage, the idea of a constant flat salary, but admittedly at a considerably lower wage, appealed to me after all I could still earn a few quid on the weekend tiling if I needed to!

And so it was that I left the production area and climbed the stairs ( and not just metaphorically ) to claim my bench in the development area and join a bunch of new colleagues and disciplines. 

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These were the TEAM ( printed on the back) give away T shirts - one was in each Cash box for a period

L -> R          Rob Higgins, Me, Ernie Beaver, Rob Old, Howard Parker, Huw Thomas

Edited by Frank Bird
Take out the boring bit
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Thanks for that Frank. Another lovely read and nice to see everyone at the factory mucking in together. Late night fish and chips does sound appealing !

At this stage did you ever wonder what the other big companies like bellfruit were doing and what perks they had to offer for your skills ?

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