She nearly died on my watch

She nearly died on my watch

I was at our Bloemfontein branch yesterday. This is where Ouch! started in 1996. On my way there on the airplane, I wondered what my day would produce. The objective was to visit a client and say hi to our staff and wish them a happy new year.

But I got much more from my day yesterday. I heard how Ouch! saved somebody’s life.

Let me start from the beginning.

In 2001 I was in our electronics workshop at Ouch!, hand soldering a pc board for a clock that I had to assemble for a new client (At that stage, we were building our clockings and the internals by hand.) There was a lady cleaning next to me. Her name was Suzan Loape.

Suzan had been our cleaner for a couple of months or maybe a couple of years (we tend to forget how long people have worked for us while we toil away at the next opportunity. Note to myself to fix this).

While I was soldering the board Suzan came really close to me, pointed at the board and said “PC board”. I stopped for a moment and turned to her. I asked her what she knows about PC boards and she proceeded to tell me about a previous job she had in a nearby township to build PC Boards for a TV assembly company.

I grabbed a nearby soldering Iron, plonked it down in front of her, gave her an unpopulated board and asked her to start soldering. To my utter amazement, she started carefully soldering the miniature components to the board with accuracy and speed like a had not seen before (obviously the result of many years of building TV’s in a sweatshop).

I immediately gave her the job of assembly technician there and then and her salary doubled in seconds. I was amazed that our cleaner had these hidden abilities and how I had missed it (a blog for another time on missed opportunities).

Suzan started building boards and eventually assembled the entire clock. Together with Graeme Wienand (now a senior project manager at Ouch! – 24 years of service), we built all the early clocks by hand. The first product was called the R69S (A BMW motorcycle’s model number of the 1960s) and I think we still have a client today who uses one of these clocks 18 years later!

Today Suzan is still with me (21 years later, she tells me) and she is a senior assembly technician who is now in charge of assembly and commissioning of all our new hardware terminals. She assembles the clocks (our pc boards are manufactured externally) and programs them before testing the units. She is as adept with a PC as she is with a soldering iron. I am always so proud when I see her.

She has gone from a cleaner to a significant person in our company and I hope one day that I will have the opportunity to reward her richly for her commitment and her tenacity. She grabbed every opportunity that was presented to her and today her life is a testimony to that. She has a stable home, she’s healthy and she is out to see how she can help other people achieve the way she has.

She is a quiet person and comes in, does her job and leaves. So you won’t ever get to talk to her for long. I lady of few words…

But yesterday after walking into her office and greeting her, it was different. She was ready to talk. And she had something to say and it shocked me. I literally got goosebumps as she was talking.

But I have to continue with this tomorrow. I have to run to a planning session with Tommy Boucher, our GM. We have great things planned for our clients for 2020! Watch this space.

If you are using our time and attendance systems or are thinking of buying a unit, know this, there are people in Ouch! who have dedicated their lives to deliver a product that is of a high standard and with a passion that you will rarely find anywhere else.

Have a conscious day,


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