5 Jan 65 : Becoming the “Changeover Men” : New Jersey, USA

This is a continuation of the letter dated 4th January 1965, which began…

Collingswood, New Jersey

Dear Mum, Dad, Carol and Nigel,

Tuesday 5th January

Well, I am now officially a ‘changeover man’. We are spending all this week learning how to identify bearings, and the idea is that we go to any part of the States, and change over the entire stock of bearings from a competitor’s bearings to SKF bearings.

This happens when SKF take over control of a warehouse which acts as a distributor for all the stockists in the area. When this happens, all the bearings there have to be repacked and renumbered in SKF boxes, and a stock check done at the same time.

We also have to instruct the staff of the warehouse how to use the SKF catalogue. We are officially described in the literature appertaining to this takeover as ‘a crew of highly qualified, factory trained engineers’.

This tickles Colin to death as he doesn’t know one end of a spanner from the other!! He says the change is too sudden – one minute he is picking up dog ends for a living, and the next he is a ‘highly paid skilled engineer!!’

Still that’s the fun of this trip, you never know what you will be doing next. At the moment it all seems impossibly complicated, but I’m sure by next week we will be able to tackle anything!!


SKF 1960 advert
1962 advert for SKF bearings

Since we came back from Florida we have had great difficulty in keeping awake, due to the return to central heating. It has once again given us sore throats and headaches. After the sunshine and fresh air of the south, it’s almost unbearable.

We had to have a medical yesterday, and with four other fellows we had to strip off and we felt very proud of our suntans. We made them look very anaemic!!

Our shirts are constantly the source of envy of many Americans who think they are very smart. They don’t have anything like them here, and they are immediately noticed. Vi is getting some sent over for Herb.

We are back at the same place in Collingswood and are settling down to a routine again after the excitement of the last few weeks. The routine is much the same as before. As there is nothing to do in the evenings, we either play Monopoly with the family downstairs, watch TV or play cards – and tonight I even got out my French books.

We are hoping that things will liven up a bit when we get started on our travels next week.

We were told today of one fellow who was doing this job last summer. He was a student and doing this job as part of his industrial training. He was very fond of flying, and whilst down in Texas and on the coast, calmly used his expense account to hire a sea plane at $18 an hour and run up a bill of $350!!!

As our instructor said ‘the expenses can be fiddled – but not to that extent’!!

To be continued…

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