Farewell to Harry Windley
You will all most likely have read these words from Chris Brimble on Yammer or in email form, but we believe it is a fitting send off for the legendary Harry Windley who has given so much to our company over his many years of service. We farewelled him at a morning tea in Melbourne earlier in the month, and look forward to seeing his face from time to time as he continues to help the company during his retirement.
“It is with mixed emotions that I advise Harry Windley has decided that the time has finally come to make the transition from full time work into retirement. I’m actually overjoyed for Harry, however am also somewhat sad, as I know many of you will be, to have to say goodbye to a legend of SFW and our industry.
For those who don’t know, Harry (whom is more affectionately known as “H”) first started working as a casual with Wridgways in 1969. He was based at one of our original depots in the Melbourne suburb of Auburn collecting new trucks from manufacturers, building original steel framed Homepacks, loading/delivering framed pods of Homepacks (a set of 5 were the same dimensions as 20’ containers) to Melbourne rail (for Perth) and wharf ( for Tasmania), as well as assisting Contractors with removals.
He enjoyed working with the Wridgways “Family”, so inquired if any Management Training was available. There was no training available, so relocated to a permanent job in Canberra (in another industry) in 1970. He was contacted by Wridgways in early 1971 and advised there could be a permanent position (with training) available in Melbourne. He and his family returned to Melbourne where he began training as a Sales Estimator, also working with the Operations, Shipping, Insurance and Business Relocations departments. He also trained with Branch Managers in Canberra/Cooma and Brisbane, before taking over Townsville Branch late 1971.
Over the years Harry was instrumental in expanding our services in the North Queensland region, working with the Mining/Sugar Industries, Government (Department of Administrative services prior to it becoming Toll Transitions) and local business. He used to be away for days at a time covering regional quotations and was a master at generating his own enquiries as he went. Back then, we operated Contractor Owner semi-trailer pantec vans, they would arrive direct from Adelaide, Melbourne, Sydney and Brisbane, returning direct to another State with roof loads under tarpaulins. Very different times from now!
In 1992 Harry relocated to Brisbane as Branch Manager before taking on TNT’s New Furniture Distribution business in 1994. This business was operated out of a purpose built warehouse in the Brisbane suburb of Wacol. Large volumes of New Furniture were received into the warehouse, checked/sorted, reloaded then sent on to large retail stores in Central and North Queensland. Working in conjunction with Vince Ford, Harry grew our services (expanding to Darwin). The significant increase in volumes actually assisted us in obtaining far better rail rates that could be utilised for “Household Goods”.
Harry diversified the business and began quoting on FF&E/refurbishments for Convention Centres and Hotels. It was around this time Harry and I first worked together on the first FF&E project in SA.
In 1999, we consolidated both Wridgways Removals and New Furniture Distribution into the same premises at Acacia Ridge. This was the start of “Wridgways Project Management”, which has grown into what we now known as “Santa Fe Commercial Services”. Over the past 15+ years Harry and the team have developed this division into a market leader within the industry. They have been instrumental with designing and innovating systems and work practices which have been copied by many of our competitors and are in use today. Harry and the team have also been the saviour of many ailing branches, landing massive projects in the quiet period just when you needed it most. I promised I wouldn’t mention the ones that have been landed smack in the middle of the peak but sorry Harry, couldn’t resist!
From a personal perspective and as previously mentioned, Harry and I have worked together for many years which has developed into a very close professional and personal relationship. God only knows how many late night conversations we have had ensuring massive projects were going to plan and have sat in countless high level meetings with incredibly demanding and high maintenance clients. He has mentored and helped me enormously throughout the years. I’m not sure if he remembers but my first real promotion back in 2000 involved a move from Adelaide to Brisbane. He picked my wife and I up from the airport, told us all about the city and helped us in finding a home. Sally remembers it well and is still thankful to this day.
So thank you Harry for everything over the years. It has been a pleasure and an honour to know and work with you, a true legend of SFW and our industry. I wish you all the best for the future.”
– Chris Brimble