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Jim retires, but still has plenty to do

Saturday, 5th January, 2019

After 55 years in the family business, Jim Lehman has just retired from Lehman Brothers. PICTURE: Callum Marshall After 55 years in the family business, Jim Lehman has just retired from Lehman Brothers. PICTURE: Callum Marshall

By Callum Marshall

LEHMAN Brothers was started by Jim’s uncle Fred Lehman and has been running since 1937, remaining in the Lehman family for over several generations.

Jim joined the company in 1963 at the age of 26 and took over managing the business from his dad Jack in 1972.

Today, his son Jason manages the company. 

Before he started working for the family business, Jim plied his trade as a saw-doctor at Globe Timber Mill, worked at the South Mine and then for its shell company doing various jobs.

Jim said he was proud of the work he’d been able to accomplish at Lehman Brothers, but welcomed moving away from its demands.

“Quite frankly it feels very good retiring because over the last few months I’ve been out physically working and it gets a little bit hard,” he said.

“My shoulders are gone, the back’s not very good, but this is part of the game. So it’s a very hard job but it’s been quite a rewarding one as well. 

“I like making things and doing things and we’ve done a lot of work here. We’ve just finished the YMCA, and the Ambulatory Wing at the Hospital - ceilings, walls and internal lights.

“We’ve worked in probably every pub or club in town, alongside many houses and bush work.

“The Musos was quite a rewarding job. 

“I used to say to my boys at work, ‘when you do a job, you should always walk away from it and be proud you did that and that’s why you should strive to make it as best as you can all the time.’”

A lot of changes have occurred in the business and industry over the years, not all of them to his Jim’s liking. 

“The hassles of running a business, even though it’s a small one, is that you still have to (comply with) all the requirements of government and Work Cover. It just starts to get to me after a while,” he said.

“I started with my father when I was 26 and when we went out to jobs, it worked on a handshake virtually.

“You listened to building requests, quoted prices to the customer and agreed to a starting date.  Nowadays, you obviously need to have a written quote.

“But Broken Hill has always been good for honesty of contractors, even if you get a few odd ones.

“We used to make our own private plaster as well but that’s been superseded by plasterboard, gyprock and all those sorts of products.”

He said the thing he was most proud of during his time with the family business was constructing their new shed in 1977.

“Probably the biggest thing we did was knock down the old workshop and build the new one,” he said.

“From a young bloke who didn’t have a great deal of money, but with good advice form the bank manager and my accountant, we virtually built the new one over the old shed and pulled the middle out. But it worked, and it’s still a good workshop.

“It was the best thing I ever did because we became distributors for CSR (Gyprock), Bradford Installation and Rondo Building Services. So quite a few different products we were distributors for.

“Unfortunately my father never saw the new shed because he was ill, he had lung cancer and died that year.”

Jim said he was also proud of all the employees that had worked for Lehman Brothers over the years, some of whom now run their own businesses.

“There’s a lot of nice people we’ve had work for us. Generally we’ve had very good staff,” he said.

“My dad and brother were hard workers and obviously I had to be, and it reflected on our employees. They’ve all become really productive people.”

Jim said he was looking forward to trying some new tasks with his free time. 

“I only finished on the 21st of December. Given it’s the Christmas break, the retirement hasn’t really come home yet. But I’ll be ok,” he said.

“Something I’ve been wanting to do is fix up vintage cars. Another thing I want to do is be able to play the piano really well.

“I don’t know much at the moment but I’m keen to learn. I enjoy it a lot.” 

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