The Warwick Chamber of Commerce Inc 2017 Heritage Bank Warwick Business Excellence Platinum Award was presented to Robert ‘Bob’ Hart and accepted by his nephew John Hart at the awards event on 26th August, at the Warwick Town Hall.
For 70 years, Bob Hart has been at the helm of our region’s largest employer – John Dee.
Born and raised in Sydney Mr Hart served in the navy during the Second World War. After leaving the military he joined his older brother Frank in Warwick after the family purchased the meat processing business here, while his brother Barry ran the butcher shops and later the export sales in Brisbane.
His nephews John and Frank Jr joined the business in the 60s and 70s. “The family has been the business and the business has been the family,” Mr Hart said in a recent article in the Warwick Daily News.
In the early days John Dee would process about 40 head of light cattle every second day for export solely to the UK.
John Dee now boasts four generations of experience as the oldest single family-owned meat processor in Australia and has about 600 employees across a whole range of positions such as processing, packaging, sales and marketing, and administration.
Over the years numerous staff have completed their apprenticeships in the engineering and electrical fields. Everyone in the company has a key role, from stockman to engineering and plant cleaning. The business runs around the clock with night and day staff helping maintain the quality of the final product.
The plant now processes 550 heavy beef carcasses every day, a growth from 10 tonnes to 200 tonnes of beef over the company’s 7-decade history. John Dee now exports high-quality chilled beef into export markets in South-East Asia and Europe.
The expansion to the company would not have been possible without significant technological advancement, from the early days of bookkeeping by hand, having no telephone connected at home and waiting hours for interstate calls, to the installation of the first on-site robot earlier this year to aid further expansion.
While Bob Hart has remained a dedicated worker, he said he would be stepping back slightly from the business earlier this year, but insisted he was not retiring. Bob continues to take pride in Warwick, where he has lived for over 70 years with his home grown, family run business.
John Dee has set a foundation for excellence in business in the Darling Downs region, and Bob Hart is a most worthy recipient of the 2017 Business Platinum Award.
(Photo credit: Warwick Daily News)
(Research thanks to Warwick Daily News and Hannah Dalglish)