FERDI Boers spent most of his working life at Electrolux and said its closure would be a sad day for the people of Orange.
“It’s terrible, a loss for Orange,” he said.
“When I started in 1954 there were 2000 people working there.”
Mr Boers said there were 60 to 70 people in the toolmaking division where he worked in the 1950s, however, by the late 1980s there were only two toolmakers left.
“I think this has been coming for a long time,” he said.
“I think it’s just a matter of money.”
Mr Boers believes it is difficult to compete with Asian countries when you compare Australia’s relatively high labour costs.
Over the years staff have heard many rumours about the factory’s fate, including that it was going to be taken over by Volkswagen and John Deere.
Mr Boers looks back on his time at Electrolux fondly, having completed his toolmaking apprenticeship there and going on to become a tool design draftsman.
However, the job came with its challenges, particularly as he was the company’s first migrant apprentice.
“Language was a problem,” he said.
“I couldn’t speak a word of English when I started, I couldn’t even count to 10.”
Mr Boers was able to complete the written component of his apprenticeship thanks to a Dutch engineer, Mr de Jong, who was working at the factory and offered to translate the teenager’s work from Dutch to English.
Mr Boers had completed two years of his apprenticeship at the Philips factory in Holland when he came to Australia and was grateful the management at Electrolux acknowledged his foreign training.
“When I worked at Philips there were 25,000 people working there. It was so big it took me 10 minutes to ride my bike from the factory gate to where I parked it,” he said.
Mr Boers wonders what will happen to the Electrolux site when the factory doors close.
“It’s a big concern ... what else could they do with it?” he asked.