This week we celebrate one of our oldest and wisest site team members – Mechanical Fitter Supervisor – Mick Wollen, as he turns 80 years old.
Born in 1943 when Winston Churchill was the Prime Minister, the price of petrol was 1p per litre and the average house cost £580! Mick started his engineering career as an Apprentice Toolmaker in 1958, eventually leading him into working as a Mechanical Fitter, and becoming one of the founding Directors of Ergro in the early 90s.
Following a failed attempt at retirement in the early 00s, these days Mick spends his weekdays back ‘on the tools’ as part of the mechanical projects team, assisting installations, mentoring the apprentice engineers, and generally imparting his wisdom wherever he may go!
We caught up with the 80 year old Engineer in order to find out more about what still motivates him, 7 decades into his trade…
Why are you still at Ergro?
“I like working, I always have worked hard, I like the banter with the rest of the team and it keeps me young and active.”
What advice would you give engineers just starting out?
“You need to have the attitude that you get up every morning and look forward to going to work. You should never get a day when you say ‘I don’t want to go to work today.’, I never had a day like that.
The youngsters seem to get the hump about things when they don’t go how they want them, but you’ve got to let that go over your head and look forward to the next day and don’t get disheartened with it.”
What is an achievement you’re proud of?
“I was involved with the founding of Ergro back in 1991 and left around 1996 when the MBO took place, it was great to return to the company at 65 when I “retired” from my other company I sold, and it makes me proud to see what Chris, Paul, Lesley and the team have done with the company.”
Do you have any particular hobbies you enjoy?
“Walking. I do a lot of walking. I used to run marathons and silly things like that. But I gave that up when my mate had a heart attack while we were running! So now we go walking, we’ve done coast to coast twice and I walk a lot when out in France with my mates each summer.”
What is your favourite thing about going to work?
“I like working with people and the banter that goes with it. Working with Gary, Jed, Max is good. I’m a people person, not someone who sticks their head in the sand and doesn’t talk to anyone.”
Can you see yourself ever fully retiring?
“No. Not until the firm makes me or I can no longer get out of bed!”
As well as hearing from the main man himself, here is what some of his colleagues had to say about Mick:
“Having Mick on site at 80 years of age is an incredible achievement. Being able to work alongside someone who has as much experience and knowledge of this industry is great for myself as an apprentice. He is always keen to grab a pair of spanners and help out when completing installs – especially when it involves ripping out copper!
Mick is a great person to have around and is always happy and ready to tell you one of his previous life experiences.”
Max King – Apprentice Engineer
“What can I say about Mick. Probably the nicest man I have ever met. In 12 years I have never seen him unhappy. A man that clearly enjoys life & work. His knowledge of our industry is invaluable and we are so grateful that he chooses to remain at work rather than retire.
My 1st recollection of meeting Mick was at a Bakery in Forest gate. He had a conveyor belt on a 50 sac oven in a million bits (working without manuals or instructions I might add) I looked down and thought to myself – this fella is in trouble he isn’t never getting this back on line. Well to my surprise I returned the following day and the 50 sac oven was in full flow churning out loaves of bread.
What a legend – Incredible man and a credit to Ergro, who we all have to thank for being here.
Enjoy your 80th Mick – your turn for the teas next time mate.”
Del Parcell – Senior Projects Manager
“Mick is a stalwart of Ergro. An inspiration to his peers, a mentor to our apprentices and calm confidence for our clients. Quality engineering is at the core of Ergro and I believe this was derived from Mick and his ability to find a technical solution where others had failed.
I have always aspired to his 10:90 work/life balance, with months spent abroad on holiday. Happy 80th birthday Mick”
Paul Martin – Managing Director