Worthing employee celebrates 50 years at Wenban Smith

Ian Mann, centre, with other Wenban Smith staff
Ian Mann, centre, with other Wenban Smith staff

A Worthing grandfather has described working for timber merchant Wenban Smith for five decades as like having 'a second family'.

Ian Mann said he had enjoyed working his way up the Newland Road-based company over the years - and has no plans to stop anytime soon.

While a lot of staff at the company have reached the 15, 25, and even 35 year milestones, only Ian can boast of 50 years of continuous employment.

Staff celebrated the occasion with nibbles, drinks and a cake, and a plaque was presented in Ian's honour.

The 74-year-old father-of-two said of his long service: "It's not the done thing in this day and age.

"In the old days people used to hand down jobs from father to son. But people look at jobs a different way now."

Ian started at Wenban Smith in 1959 as a joiner in an apprenticeship which lasted for six years.

He then left the company briefly before returning in 1968 as a joiner.

"Learning to do joinery was very fruitful," he said. "I could do it at home and make things, and help other people out."

He later became a sales representative, a role he held for around thirty years which involved visiting building companies to sell timber and sheet metals.

Ian retired at 64 but has continued to work two days a week for the last decade, selling at various showrooms.

He said he enjoyed getting 'suited and booted' to visit clients. "I'm a sociable person, I like meeting people and talking to people," he said.

"I like the dressing up, I'm quite well known for my flashy ties.

"Because I've been a joiner my knowledge of timber is quite good, that's set me in good stead."

Outside of work, Ian is a deacon at his local church in West Worthing and helps out a community cafe run by the church.

He enjoys walking and spending time with his four-year-old granddaughter Eva.

Ian said it was Wenban Smith's family-orientated ethos that made it a good place to work.

"It's basically like a second family," he said. "They are very supportive of all the staff.

"Everyone has ups and downs and they're always there for you, you can always approach them if you have an issue.

"It helps you get through those times. I think that's very important.

"They appreciate what you do, which is nice.

"They are always conscious of their customers and don't ever take them for granted. I think that's a strength."

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