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Concrete In Australia : December 2013
20 Concrete in Australia Vol 39 No 4 COVER STORY John Reid awarded honorary membership John Reid was awarded honorary membership at the Concrete 2013 Gala Dinner held in October on the Gold Coast. It is a fitting tribute to his achievements that Reid should be honoured in 2013, the 40th anniversary of the Sydney Opera House where he played an important role. Few of today’s members would know Reid and we take for granted the ground breaking technologies he pioneered in Australia: strand prestressing and reinforced earth. Though not an engineer and having left school at 16, Reid has inspired, guided and taught a whole new generation of engineers during his entrepreneurial journey. Reid has architecture and engineering in his blood. His grandfather was a Sydney architect who designed the well- known Goldsbrough Mort Woolstores. His father established Alan H Reid & Co. (AHR) a colliery and engineer’s furnishers selling steel wire ropes from British Ropes of Doncaster, UK (later known as Bridon). As a boy, Reid worked with his father and learned the importance of having something new in a good brand. His job was to dip the tang of ordinary hand files into yellow paint to transform them into the extraordinary Yellow Tang brand, known for its desirable qualities. In 1937, Reid’s father suffered a stroke and Reid left school to work as a messenger boy at AHR, where he learned that the top priority in the business was service to one’s customer. The need for prompt service was reinforced by his supervisor, who chased him out of the office to do his errands with three feet of rope and a knot in the end. During WWII, he served in the Navy and learned the survival skills and resilience needed to succeed in business: his ship was damaged but refused to sink. Returning home, Lieutenant Reid found a badly listing AHR and he was determined to steer a new course to profitability by boosting sales in the shortest possible time. After the war in Europe, prestressed concrete was rapidly adopted to save materials. This new technology was controlled through various patents held by PSC-Freyssinet (wire prestressing), Macalloy (threaded bar) and later BBRV (button headed wire). In 1949, John Harris of Prestressed Concrete UK set up an office in Sydney (PSC), and in 1951 asked Reid if he could supply prestressing wire. Harris later recalled: “For PSC work, 0.2in diameter wire on 6ft coils was used so it could be straightened. Rylands wire, a division of BHP, said it could produce it and blocked imports. It was not to Reid’s completed vision: post-tensioned, stained, polished concrete floors pictured above, and a cantilevered deck on the right. 20-25 - Cover.indd 20 20-25 - Cover.indd 20 25/11/13 2:41 PM 25/11/13 2:41 PM