Derek Saville (Tabs)
Warehouse and Production Manager
Derek, or Tabs as he prefers to be known, has been at the heart of the Datesand team for over twenty years now. He is a crucial part of our senior management team but is also a vital source of merriment and morale, especially when things get busy (as they do quite frequently). We asked him to pick out a few key memories from amongst the thousands of moments, highs and lows he has experienced during these rich, enjoyable and often hilarious years.
“I joined Datesand approximately 21 years ago, originally on a temporary basis working on anything the small family business wanted me to do. I had quite a lot of practical and machine experience from my previous employment and one of my first jobs involved cutting Aquasorb absorbent trayliners on a rotary cutting machine. The process also involved laminating an impermeable liner to the sheets using a special adhesive and pressure. We had many a weekend with all the family and a whole variety of friends working to finish off big orders to go out to clients here and in Europe. I remember working right through one weekend to get thousands of sheets ready for shipment to Avensis in Germany. The work was non-stop and very tiring but we got it done and I recall my wife helping us to keep going and bringing a smile to a few weary faces when she brought us all a roast dinner into the little canteen on the last day.
Datesand were and still are offering a range of horticultural products as a separate business within a business (the Raingel range). I was soon involved using similar equipment to prepare absorbent holiday watering and hanging basket mats and then cutting them to size on an ancient but sturdy industrial guillotine machine. At times this was quite fast-paced but we always got there and lots of treasured plants of clients here and all over the world were suitably grateful.
Originally Datesand used third parties to carry out the limited amount of vacuum packing required on some of the products we sold. This was quite a costly business and the company decided to reduce the costs by bringing the vacuum packing process in-house. I was soon working away on some interesting, refurbished machines vacuum packing everything from 1kg bales to 200g packs of Sizzlenest nesting material ready for irradiation. It’s amazing to think that these days, in our purpose designed vacuum packing rooms, we have two and sometimes three people working pretty much all day, every day on a range of state of the art, automated vacuum packers producing huge quantities of the very highest quality vacuum packed products. It makes me smile to think of those early days and how far we’ve come.
We didn’t have a forklift truck in the early days and I remember the first large shipments and actual containers arriving at our tiny premises. Things like Aspen bedding and paper nesting materials weren’t packed on pallets in those days and I recall us unloading huge numbers of sacks from the lorries by hand. Pretty exhausting but good for the waistline in those days…. by the way, we have four fork lift trucks these days and are about to take delivery of our fifth.
One of the first products developed by Datesand was our disinfectant and glass cleaner Betadet 99 – invented by Jonathon’s Dad Barry back in the 70’s and still in our catalogue to this day. Early on, I remember mixing the various ingredients for this in a water butt on a shelf in what was known as the wet room ( pretty basic arrangements – in the second of the five different premises we’ve occupied over the years). These days we still sell the Betadet product but it’s now produced in a purpose built mixing container with state of the art hot water intake and drainage taps. This all takes place in a dedicated, secure chemical room at our premises in Manchester. For me this change really sums up the rapid development the company has gone through.
I’ve seen tremendous change and development during my 21 years at Datesand and I can honestly say that I’m immensely proud to have been part of this and have enjoyed every minute. Now, heading towards the twilight of my career, I’m really happy that the future of this tremendous company is safe in the hands of a smashing young team. I’m sure the Datesand family will go from strength to strength. I’m currently recovering from a recent hip replacement but really looking forward to getting back to work to further assist and guide in any and every way I can.