ONE of the first apprentices ever recruited by JCB has marked a double milestone with the company - 50 years’ service and his retirement.
John Smith, 65, was just 15 when he first walked through the doors of JCB’s World HQ as a craft apprentice on August 31, 1964 - one of nine school leavers who were recruited that year as part of the first ever intake of apprentices.
“I’d originally intended going into the Royal Navy and had my application papers ready”, said John, of Leigh, near Uttoxeter. “But I came home from school one dinnertime and my dad Cecil, who had worked at JCB for five years, told me he had organised an interview at JCB for me and I was to go for that.”
Fifty years on and John has worked in at least eight different roles, including a position as operations manager with JCB India in Pune for three years. He is one of only five people ever to have reached the 50 year service milestone with JCB, including Chairman, Lord Bamford.
“Fifty years have flown by”, said John. “I can’t quite believe where the time has gone and it is going to feel quite strange not clocking on for work every day. I have enjoyed every minute of my time here. When I first came to work at JCB there were a few hundred people working at just one factory and you knew most people.
“Today, there are factories all over the world and JCB employs around 12,000 people.”
JCB Chairman Lord Bamford said: “John is part of a unique group of people at JCB who have served the company for 50 years. On behalf of the company and my family, I wish him a long and happy retirement.”
1964 was also the year JCB exported its first machine to America. The Beatles were also taking the United States by storm and John was drummer in a band playing paid gigs in Staffordshire.
He joked: “My first weekly wage at JCB was £2, 19 shillings and eight pence. I was earning more with my band The Shandells.”
DIY enthusiast John, who is married with two grown up children, plans to finish off the garden at the house he built with his wife Dawn, who also works at JCB. John’s daughter Tracy Sampson also works at JCB’s World HQ, running the company’s shop.