62 YEARS OF INDUSTRY CHANGE
Over the next few years, Stucoid Pty Ltd became a subsidiary of API, then Derite, and is now USG Boral Interior Linings, our contracting arm. On the manufacturing side, the plant Jim worked from changed names from API (Victor Board) to AGL and went on to become Boral.
Jim has kept his finger firmly on the pulse as a highly respected member of the plasterboard industry – serving on Association of Walls & Ceilings Industries (AWCI) Technical Committees, contributing articles to On the Surface magazine and elected AWCI Life Member.
On his 50th anniversary with Boral Plasterboard, the AWCI journal wrote in tribute: “Jim has always represented the industry with integrity and has promoted a fair deal and level playing field for the plasterer. He has recognised that information is a key and has spent many years on maintenance reduction by putting together plenty of information into easy-to-understand plasterers’ language.” Jim worked on the AWCI Trade Guidelines and many other industry publications.
So what has changed the most over his long career?
In his role as Technical and Training Manager, he’s seen the training time greatly reduced from that of his own five-year apprenticeship. “Each week I had technical classes two nights a week, plus a day of practical training each month.”
Working conditions are also much improved. “There was a lot more involved in plastering then. We had to reinforce ceilings in the roof. Although ceilings were higher back then, we often had to work in confined spaces.”
“Fibrous plaster was very heavy. Even plasterboard was heavier than today’s when it was first introduced in Australia. The AMES tools we used then weighed around 50kg when fully loaded.” Jim reckons that the introduction of lightweight SHEETROCK® with the USG Boral Joint Venture and lighter mechanised tools make the installer’s job considerably easier. “I might even make a comeback!” he jokes.
TIME TO CONTRIBUTE ELSEWHERE
Actually, Jim has never really left the job… and not about to lay his trowel down now. He has always been his family’s own in-house handyman, going as far as to learn other trades in order to build their home. Nowadays he’s go-to for the next two generations. “If there’s a project on in the family, I’m there,” he says.
If building and renovation doesn’t fill the days of his well-deserved retirement, Jim is a passionate restorer of old Ford and Holden cars. He’s also a keen gardener, with extensive rainforest to care for on his property.
Those of us at USG Boral – and we’re sure many others in the industry – deeply appreciate Jim Browning’s enormous contributions over the years and join in wishing him a very happy retirement.
Read more industry perspectives in this occasional blog series.