Brad Dowdell – champion of change and celebrating 35 years of service

Straight out of school, and only 16 years old, Brad Dowdell thought he’d give his first fulltime job a couple of years and see what happened…

35 years later, after a long career adapting to and embracing change, Greenmill Operator Brad has shared some of his story.

“My first fulltime job was out at Lakeside.

I was 16, I came straight out of school and thought I’d give this a couple years and see how it panned out.

I’d done nightfill at Woollies before but immediately knew this job was going to be a little more full on…

I went up to shake the boss’s hand and he said “you’re not in school now, there’ll be no stuffing around.”

That was my first day.

Greenmill Operator Brad Dowdell celebrating 35 years of service

I destacked packs of timber and put them into orders. After a year and a half, I moved into the sawmill where I started on the stacker, and within another year after that I was inside the mill working on the main machines.

Eventually I was running one of the shifts out there. I transferred here to Jubilee in 2013.

What’s changed? There’s no VB longnecks in the fridge’s anymore!

Safety has been a big thing I’ve seen improve over the years.

When I started there were no fences or guards around the machines, it was just word of mouth – ‘you don’t go in there’, or ‘you’ll be right young fella, we all do that’ and I’d be like “really!?”

I can’t imagine the mill like that now. Back then it was normal, but thankfully now it’s pushed more and more to get everyone home safe.

The change can be hard to adjust to but once you go through it, you find more often than not it’s all for the better.

I was at Lakeside for what must have been 26 years. I was at that place for so long, I didn’t want to move, I had a fair bit to do with that mill.

For some people it was a difficult transition. It took a couple of years to get used to it and there was a lot to learn.

I almost left, but eventually I settled in and felt better as you could see that things were going forward.

We’re a team – like a footy team really – everyone does their role, everyone is equally important and the operation won’t run without working together.

You might have bad bits of the day, but you just go on to the next one and have another go. 

It’s pretty good here, I’ll give it another 35 and see how that pans out.”

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