Graduate recruitment

This publication was created to support the annual ‘Milk Round’ where businesses would visit the local universities looking for the next crop of graduates. Some of us recent graduates, would also be involved as living examples of all the good things and opportunities that were awaiting graduates in STC.

I could have fun with that sentence and reflect on being sent to the tool room for “a long weight (or wait)” or the reaction I got when I asked for a small fitting to be formed out of 1/6″ Aluminium sheet.  But I wont digress.

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I think with one exception I worked for each of these guys at one stage and have had some great learning experiences from each of them.

One taught me exactly the right time to fling a phone across a desk for maximum effect.

Another taught me the complete alphabet of factory suitable words, which were definitely not suitable at home, oh and how it was a career advancement to control the snow ploughs.

Another taught me sound design and how to keep in a budget and yet another taught me how to reside safely in Enniskillen.

Another two taught me all about doing projects, coaching me into project leadership either by choice or because they really needed helped.

Two were involved in my wedding send off, although where a nighty and a trolley were involved in that is far back in my memory, and therapy sessions.

One taught me the benefit of saying the wrong thing at the right time. Sometimes hilarious, like when he told us his daughter was ‘hijacking’ all around Europe. A classic technique to get a team relaxed and working.

And one taught me that tea break time was an opportunity to stretch our minds with all sorts of conundrums, inventions and mind-bending puzzles.

Jim I never worked for but I spend 6 weeks in Colchester working with his son Malvin.

 

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Abseil

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Steve Large receiving a spot award from Brian Wilson for his efforts in arranging a abseil down the front of the Europa Hotel with a collection for  Leukemia Research. This involved 21 staff from the Information Technology department on a windy day.IMG_20170312_0115

 

Adrian Murphy paused on the decent, I would not have paused!!
One of my sons was about 8 at the time and was given a role of collecting with Pat Masterson (HR Director) in front of the Europa on the pavement at the world famous Crown Bar. Mathew was keen to do this but misheard the charity we were collecting for, so began asking passers-by for contributions to Lobelia research (as if we don’t have enough colours of lobelias already).

 

 

Belfast folks being the way they are were happy to throw money in the buckets carried by Mathew and Pat.

NITEC Building Award

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Before: The old entrance and small office building at the front of M4 being demolished. This had initially been the Spalding plant and for a long time that name was still deep in the STC conversation. “I’m heading up to Spaldings” was a phrase which left me totally confused in my first week at work.  But then again the “Raceview loading bay” in the M3 plant was still talked about 20 years after the Raceview site in Enniskillen had closed.

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During: The new shape of Nitec starting to unfold. This was a significant building effort not seen on the site for one, maybe two, decades before. The building would not be any use if we didn’t get Broadband into it, and this was one of our first experiences of being a Customer to one of the early cable companies who were becoming our new Customers.  Not a straight forward experience. I think the lead time for the cable was longer than the building.

(I don’t remember it being called Broadband in those days…. Ethernet has a ring to it)

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After: The NITEC building won the W & G Baird Business Environmental Endeavour (BEE) award. This scheme is aimed at encouraging excellence in the design of the working environment.
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Pictured here with NITEC’s director, Dr Danny McCaughan, are mechanical design engineers Gillian McColgan and Irwin Potts

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The assessor gave the site high marks for being “well integrated into the suburban environment” Des Cave the Project Manager received the award from Richard Needham, Minister of State for Northern Ireland, at a lunch at Shane’s Castle

NT

NT sign

So…… it seemed like a good idea at the time, all we have to do is get a group of good people, convince Stanley to go up on the roof and there we have it.

How better to celebrate Monkstown joining NT … Northern Telecom … or Nortel as it was continued to be re-branded over the years.  Arranging people as an ‘NT’ was easier that the full word ‘Northern Telecom’.

Ok there was a better way, we should just get a Canadian flag, what could go wrong.

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Terry Fulton

Terry Fulton

Terry Fulton, Personnel Manager retires after 27 years with STC and 20 years as Personnel Manager.  1990

From left to right
Billy Gillam, Norman Moody, Sean Curran, Sandra Fulton, Jim Shaw, Jim Cobain
Terry Fulton, Bert McBroom, Alan Cousins, Eva Hegan, Larry Davidson
Ronnie Andrews, Andy Kerr, Jim Carvill, Sam Davison, Rene Magee
Elvlyn Watkins, Eileen Johnston, Pat Masterson, Bobby McIntyre, Dan Deery
Bertie McMaw, Bobby King, Craig Blair

Monkstown : Requiem for a village

51UmRxkW6RL._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_ I found this very interesting book (Ref Roddie Andrews) in the Linen Hall Library.  It is a very personal look back at life in the village of Monkstown before and after the ‘American factories’ arrived in 1962.

The building of the Monkstown Industrial Estate was in the large meadow, owned by Nursery Owner Robert Kirkpatrick in the town land of Cloughfern.

It is a environmental change that I have read in a number of places but, in this book, the author Roddie Andrews comments on how the new factories “required lots of women with small hands” for the intricate work and how the women of the families in some cases “gained their independence” within the family due to the good wages paid.

Roddie Andrews mentions that the progress forced on the local area with employment contracts which required that employees “must work overtime as and when required” added huge strains to family life. “Another dehumanisation” was the introduction of Time and Motion on the work practices and incentive payments.

In my own memories even I can contrast the peaceful Boy Scout walks through the area when I was young to the queues of cars coming up the Doagh Road and trying to turn right onto the site across the daily commuter traffic jams. Living locally I always felt that the factories sat well within the community with a well understood co-dependence.

I guess STC and Spaldings were just two more causes for an influx of new people into the area following in the history of the Mill, Print Works and the garrison families from Carrickfergus.

As Roddie Andrews says the “1964 devastating news of the Housing Trust’s vesting orders” in preparation for the building of the Monkstown Estate was really the end of the Village structure.

With a population now over 85,000 in the wider Newtownabbey area, we can only look back with fond memories of the old Monkstown area where everyone knew everyone … .. and their mother.

Ref: Roddie Andrews:  Requiem for a village

Buses

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There were always two rushes. Firstly the rush to clock out in the clocking corridor at 4:30 followed by the rush of employees to get to the buses. It was always advisable to stay out the way of these two rushes
Buses serviced York Street, Grove, Shankill and East Belfast.

At that time Monkstown was seen as being a ‘Green Bus’ route, meaning that it was run by Ulsterbus and was outside the city, effectively in the country.

On remembering this ….  it was also often said that the STC clocking corridor was as busy as Donegal avenue, or how busy Donegal Avenue used to be in the 70’s.

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Monkstown Plant Brings optimism to Ulster

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Kieran Mulligan arrived in my office one morning with a photocopy of STC News. He had heard I was producing this historical ‘book’ of the Monkstown site and people, and this was one of the oldest collection of photographs that I had seen at that time.

I guess these images and a fading memory are two of my drivers to make sure that we don’t lose our collective memory of what has been a real home for many of us for well over 30 years.

I am going to let the STC News words help this first generation tell their story. I also owe it to this generation to find better photographs and, with the help of Ken’s terrific photograph store in the print room, I have found most of the originals except for the one above, but my hunt continues.

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Panel wiring – and this is Mrs Margaret Clark performing the operation.

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In the Relay Adjusting Section Jean Watson, just five months with the company.

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Assembling a relay spring pileup is Victoria McKenna. This is one of several operations needed for relay assembly.

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Intently watching the wire strand on the coil winding machine is Marty Graham.

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Production Control, 17 year old Sandra Sweet prints off part numbers.

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Thomas Hagan, a setter/operator in the Machine Shop, fixes the feed on the horizontal automatic press. This turns out around 100,000 springs a day.

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Supervisor Jimmy Scullion(right) watches John Craig form a PABX line circuit in the Cable Forming Section – one of the basic jobs on a PABX.

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Monkstown has an up-to-date medical Section, under the charge of Sister ‘Paddy’ Morgan. Here Nurse Noelle Stewart is seen testing eyesight with ‘Mavis’, the Master Screen Viewer.

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A clerk in the Personnel Department, Gerry Shearer is also the Monkstown ‘disc jockey’ and as such is responsible for broadcasting over the factory public address system.

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Tommy Martin, a keen five-a-side footballer, works on selector mechanisms in the Mechanical Adjusting Department.

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A toolmaker, Jimmy Strain joined STC seven months ago. He is seen here marking out a fixture.

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In Self Wiring Section Mrs Nina Rice wires a UNI Selector Shelf. Nina is Italian by birth but married an Irishman 19 years ago and has seen much of the world in her travels.

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One of the most important sections is, of course, Payroll. Here Norma Hamilton is seen calculating wages and incentive payments on a Burroughs comptometer.

Excerpts: Acknowledgements to STC News

Monkstown : The local residents also claim that from nearby Knockagh one can see Scotland to the north and and the Mountains of Mourne to the south, not forgetting County Down itself and the glorious coastline all the way. But then we found that they are very proud of Monkstown and its surroundings. Their part of the world is Ireland and it is a fine place to live.

For the ‘settlers’, most of whom came over from Southgate with Plant Manager Mr Kenneth Frost to help start the project, there were many compensations, not least of them being the open roads, where cars can really keep moving and driving is still the pleasure it once was in crowded England. And, anyway, nearby Aldergrove Airport – an easily covered 15 miles away – brings London within an hour and ten minutes flying time, a short enough journey for any wanderer.

But mostly they have settled down. Talk to people like Jim Strugnell, Unit Production Manager of Panels and Equipment, Chief Inspector Arthur Walton, Production controller Les Calderwood, Plant Engineer Ernie Raven or Production Engineer Dudley Howard, all of whom came over right at the start of the project will tell you they really like it here – and they feel very much a part of the country.

It is only in recent years that new industry has been attracted to Ulster by availability of labour and by lively and untiring efforts of the Minister of Commerce. Today Ulster has a wide variety of modern industries and the STC plant is not only one of the showpieces but has contributed substantially to the economy of Northern Ireland and the well-being of Ulstermen.

The plant employs some 1600 people and is steadily approaching its ultimate target of 2000. This is spectacular growth – achieved only by enthusiasm, adaptability and spirit of all concerned, management, workers and trade unions. It has been a great challenge – but the Ulsterman is at his best under challenging conditions.

They are a happy and sociable people. So it is not surprising that Monkstown has a flourishing sports and social club, covering football, tennis, swimming, hockey, golf, netball, badminton, and table tennis, ballroom dancing, photography, angling, chess and including a ladies keep-fit class.

One of the most popular amenities of factory life is the twice-weekly record request programme. This is broadcast over the factory public address system every Tuesday and Friday with the 30 minute session being conducted by 19-year-old Gerry Shearer, a clerk in Personnel Department. During each programme eleven or twelve records are played, all requested by shop-floor operatives and usually taking the form of birthday and ‘boy friend or girl friend’ messages.

Gerry compiles the programme, which is pre-recorded, on tape the day before it is due to go out, thus allowing time for the elimination of any mistakes.

The programme itself typifies the spirit one finds in Monkstown. Life generally is good and there is a song in the air. And who better than Ulstermen at radiating happiness.

STC News

In their own words, like I said!!!  In today’s world of Twitter, WhatsApp and Blogs, it is still lovely to read about ‘recorded on tape’ not even cassette tape. I love it.