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For more than 50 years, Jeff Edmunds was a guiding force in Edcon Steel. His passing is a great loss to not only all of us at Edcon Steel who knew him as a father, friend and mentor, but also for our many customers and associates who worked with him over many years.
Linda O’Meagher first met Jeff in 1984. She had never worked in steel before, but Jeff was willing to take a chance.
“Jeff was firm but fair. We all worked hard, but if there was any reason to celebrate, we would certainly do that.
In those early years we often came in on the weekends to move steel racks or do painting. On one occasion we were painting the office. We were terrible painters and got splotches of paint over all of Jeff’s ornaments.
He wasn’t happy, but we had a beer afterwards and laughed about it. We were never asked to paint the office again!
Sometimes the guys would work through the night to get jobs finished. On those days I would go in early in the morning and cook a BBQ breakfast. Jeff was always there to support us. We were one big happy family. We all supported each other and Jeff was always there with us.”
Linda is a Director of Edcon, a role Jeff offered her at a time when not many women had that opportunity.
“There weren’t many men at that time who would give a woman a directorship. Jeff was very open minded. As long as you could do your job, he didn’t care about race or creed.”
Jeff’s background was in sales. And that experience was invaluable to Michael Bevan who joined Edcon in 2004 working on sales out of the Blacktown store.
“While I was out on the road, I would get quite a lot of phone calls from Jeff. He came from a sales background so he understood what it’s like to be out there trying to gain business. He was really supportive and would always give me little bits of advice along the way.
One particular sale that has always stuck with me was a big American company that sent an enquiry for a large volume of steel. We were a much smaller business then and I was wondering how they even found us.
I was persisting with the sale and Jeff would often check in with me to see how it was going. The guys from America were out visiting, so I asked Jeff to come along with me. Jeff sat down with them and I felt like the apprentice watching the master. Within five minutes they were glued to his every word. The next morning, I got a phone call to say that we had won the sale. Jeff was so good at what he did.”
Alan Owens knew about Jeff before he ever met him. He worked in the steel industry for years before eventually landing in a job at Edcon.
“Jeff was always the boss. You would never doubt that he was in charge. If you put a foot out of line, he would certainly tell you to pull your head in. But he also gave so much time to mentor me.
He would ring me almost daily. He always taught me to look at the big picture to focus on the whole business and not just one thing. But then he would also tell me that if I watched the little things the big things should take care of themselves. Because of Jeff, I look at things differently to how I did before. He always gave me a different perspective on things – even if he didn’t agree with the other side, he would give you that perspective.
I’ve been with Edcon for almost 20 years and we’ve pretty much moved or renovated a warehouse every year. Jeff would always come out to have his two cents’ worth. He would rock up after a long day of work and complain about the amount of dirt on the floor, but then he would be trying to pick up a broom to help.”
On the day Jeff passed away, Mick and Geoff at our Revesby store lowered the flag to half mast. There isn’t one of us who works at Edcon who wasn’t impacted by Jeff’s presence, his strong work ethic and his passion for Edcon Steel.
For Linda, Jeff’s legacy is in the respect he instilled in the team.
“I hope we can continue to do him proud and keep achieving. We’ve got a lot of people who have worked with us for years and that comes down to what Jeff instilled in us all in the early days. He was a very generous person. You had to earn his respect, but whatever you gave, you got back tenfold. To have Jeff in my life was an honour.”
Michael echoes Linda’s sentiments.
“Jeff always said that there’s no point selling something to someone if they don’t need or want it because they won’t come back again. He instilled in the team that we are here to serve people and sort out their problems.
Edcon is a family business and we do the right thing by our customers and we do the right thing by our employees. We always play fair and do the right thing. That comes from Jeff.
One of Jeff’s favourite sayings when the business was performing well, was ‘whatever you’re doing wrong, keep doing it’,” says Alan. “He’d always have an analogy to explain his point of view and that’s something I’ve really taken on board as well. I will certainly miss his daily phone calls and being able to ring and ask him a question.”
For all of us in the Edcon family, Jeff’s presence will be sorely missed. Whether it is his daily phone calls or the visits he used to make to the stores on a Saturday, we have inherited the Edcon Steel legacy and we intend to carry it on with great pride.