Career of body building still fun for Laurie

Laurie McCoy in a converted van. 133952 Picture: GARY SISSONS


LAURIE ‘Macca’ McCoy started his apprenticeship with Norden Body Works in Dandenong at age 15.
He’s still there 40 years later and couldn’t be happier.
“The brain’s just got that track – get up in the morning, shower, hop in the car and it comes here,” he said.
“I still enjoy it, so that’s the main thing.
“I’m production manager here now and I have been for 20 years.”
“I love hands-on and I still get hands-on.”
Macca, whose family has lived in Dandenong for 115 years, applied for a job at Norden on advice from a friend who was working there.
He met with company founder Ron Anson and his father Walter.
“In those days you brought your parents with you and had an interview,” he said.
“I was lucky enough to get the job.”
Many of his colleagues have worked alongside him for more than 20 years.
Macca’s son Kane, 20, has worked on the factory floor for just over a year.
“As long as you can smile and have a laugh and you’ve got good people you work with, I think it’s a big part of it,” he said.
“You spend more time at your job than you do at home with your family, over your working life.”
Ron co-founded the company in 1959 to build commercial transport and truck bodies.
“We’ve had some tough years,” he said.
During the late ‘80s staff worked a four-day week to avoid redundancies.
“There’s been many times when it got to 12 o’clock Friday and I’d think ‘hmm we need some work for next week’,” Ron said.
“We didn’t have anything.
“Then somebody walks in the door and orders and tipping body at half past two, saves the bacon.”
Macca said many people who encountered hard times threw their hands up in the air.
“Ron hasn’t done that,” he said.
Ron said market gardeners with small trucks were his main clients at first.
A presentation about his job at a Dandenong Rotary meeting 30 years ago secured the company’s current main income source.
The Dandenong Hospital CEO approached him after the meeting and asked him to fit out a disability van.
“I didn’t know what he was talking about. I said yes anyway,” he said.
Ron’s daughter Wendy worked in administration for 30 years and his son Robert now runs the business after coming on board about 35 years ago.
Two of Robert’s five sons now also work there – Aaron, 25, is studying a bachelor of business and working on the workshop floor and Ryan, 20, is a contract manager.
“It makes you feel very proud, actually,” Ron said.
“Fifty-odd years ago I never dreamt that this would all happen.
“Fifty-odd years ago it was a matter of getting enough work to open the doors each day.”
Ron retired about 15 years ago but, at age 85, still visits twice a week to keep an eye on the business he built – and dedicated 56 years of his life to.