Industry icons honoured

A memorable year

At a cosy gathering held at Emperor’s Palace in Johannesburg, the South African International Mover’s Association (SAIMA) saluted past presidents and industry icons that have retired, but are far from forgotten…

“This is the first in what we hope will be an annual event,” opened Gerry Peterson, SAIMA president and an industry stalwart himself. “This industry is shaped by the market and what we offer the commercial transport community, but more importantly, it is shaped by the personalities who have dedicated their careers to making the South African removals industry what it is today,” he continued. “Today we are here to show respect to our predecessors.”

An initiative to present past SAIMA presidents with badges honouring their service to the industry was begun in 2009, but three past presidents (Bruce Furness, Gerry van Graan and Ian Pettey) had not yet received their badges – so Peterson began the afternoon by dispensing with that formality.

Thereafter, the day was all about retirees of the industry who were not only present at the luncheon, but celebrated through speeches and loving laughter. Bruce Furness, Trevor Thompson, Barbara Reich, Gerry van Graan, Ian Ralston, Les Staats, Dave Beuchanan and Sandra Fear were each spoken of by an industry friend or close colleague; and the array of personal anecdotes and laughter punctuating the speeches was indicative of a closely-knit industry with colleagues who, whether working for the same company or rival groups, have maintained strong bonds throughout the years.

“Today is really a tribute to the people who have done so much for our industry,” said Peter Farmerey, while giving his speech about Barbara Ryan. “They might be retired, but they are still valuable members of our industry,” he added.

Ian Ralston, who has enjoyed retirement for a number of years, spoke not only of how good it was to see old friends, but how unique the removals industry is. “We have all worked for opposition companies at one time or another, yet at the end we are still great friends together,” he said. “This is a very special industry.”

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