4 April 2023

'Our crystal ball': Dennis Duvey celebrates 60th year at Griffith John Deere supplier

| Oliver Jacques
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two men in office

Ben Langford and long-time John Deere supplier employee Dennis Duvey. Photo: Oliver Jacques.

Griffith’s Dennis Duvey is celebrating his 60th consecutive year working for the local supplier for John Deere, the world’s largest manufacturer of agricultural machinery.

“I started work as an apprentice mechanic for Waugh & Josephson in 1963, which was taken over by A&G Machinery, where I stayed for 46 years until Hutcheon & Pearce took over in 2014, who I still work for,” he said.

Colleague Ben Langford said: “He has worked with five different generations of my family.”

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Starting employment at the age of 15, Mr Duvey’s salary was 10 pounds a week. For the past 54 years, he’s worked in parts sales, interpretation and mentoring staff across four locations. He starts work at 6 am every day and is known for his conscientiousness, photographic memory of part numbers and ability to look into the future.

man in front of tractors

Dennis Duvey is known for his ability to see into future seasons. Photo: Oliver Jacques.

His workmate of 42 years, Hutcheon & Pearce branch manager Tony Glennon, said he was like the company’s “crystal ball”.

“He has the foresight to see what will happen two seasons ahead,” Mr Glennon said. “We need to have our parts here for grain harvest, but before that, we have rice and cotton harvests. But he can see ahead to what will be needed for grain. These days we have so much technology telling us what to do, we rely so much on pop-up messages, we can’t foresee the way Dennis can.

“He still knows all the part numbers by memory. What takes me 15 minutes [to find], he can do in five.”

Mr Duvey said working in the era without computers, he had to hone both his memory and his ability to think laterally.

“We did it all by books,” he said. ”They were all divided into different sections and you found the parts from there.”

While technology has made some things easier, he has no doubt about which period he prefers.

“Life was much better [in the 1960s] than it is now. The technology is crazy in the world we now live in. Everyone is always in a hurry. Back then, if you didn’t have a part on Friday, they’d say, ‘OK, just order it and I’ll pick it up Monday’. But now, they have to have it immediately.”

two men in office

Dennis Duvey and Tony Glennon have worked together for 42 years. Photo: Oliver Jacques.

Across six decades, Mr Duvey says he’s experienced at least 10 droughts.

“Drought has a dramatic impact on our industry. You see a big downturn in parts sales and labour, everything … the droughts in 1982 and 1989 were really bad. Interest rates were really high too, that really hurt people.

“The biggest problem in Griffith is water. It’s all right when there’s plenty of water … when it’s right down it’s very hard going. We’ve been saying to politicians, ‘We need more dams’, but there’s been nothing done.”

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Despite that, he’s always loved the town of his birth. He did his schooling at Griffith Public and Griffith High, and has had two sons with his wife Marie. Outside of work, his passion was sport and he excelled at rugby league, touch football and basketball.

“I had a very busy sporting career. In 1964, I got the Sportsperson of the Year Award. Then I refereed and played touch football for a long time. I received the Australia Day Sportsperson of the Year Award for Griffith in 1992.”

Reg Gilbert hands Dennis Duvey award

Reg Gilbert hands Dennis Duvey his Sportsman of the Year Award in 1964. Photo: Supplied.

Mr Duvey loves keeping active, which is why he has no plans for retirement, despite turning 75 this year.

“I still go like mad all day. It’s non-stop work from 6 am to 4 pm, sometimes longer. If I stay healthy, I’ll try and keep going.”

His advice for young people coming into the industry is simple.

“If you enjoy what you do and you enjoy the product you sell, make a career of it. There’s that many steps in the industry, if you’re good at it you can go from an ordinary labourer to manager.”

Original Article published by Oliver Jacques on Region Riverina.

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