Looking back: Sam Wells: From telephones to tanning - all in a lifetime's work
Published: 3rd Mar 2021
Boksburg, Gauteng, SA - I immigrated to South Africa in 1974 to take up employment with Plessey SA, upgrading and automating telephone exchanges. In 1981 I was deployed to the Natal north coast to install at Paradise Valley (Pinetown), Salt Rock, Ballito, Verulam and Stamford Hill (Durban).
This is when we met Lionel Astill, MD of Apeco, and his wife Sheila, who became god parents to our daughter.
I transferred to Plessey's PABX division in 1986, then resigned in 1987 to join Greydata Pinetown. However, after a few months the owners emigrated and the company closed down.
Lionel got me a job with Uli Wilhelm at Durban Laminators to start a new plant at Hammarsdale. I got it running, and after 6 months Lionel asked me to start a leather finishing plant for Alfred Pearson.
I completed 8 weeks training under Richard Delfel at Hanni and started the finishing plant in early 1988.
In 1989, I received a handwritten letter from Bader in Germany looking for qualified leather technicians to start a plant in Ga-Rankuwa. I replied that I wasn't qualified but had done blah, blah, blah, and to my surprise, they accepted me anyway. 2 years later Uli Wilhelm told me he was a cousin of Hans Bader: Mystery solved.
In 1995 I left Bader and joined Eagle Ottawa to start their new tannery and sewing plant in Bronkhorstspruit.
I left Eagle Ottawa in 2000 and joined TFL, which in 2007 closed its South African office and appointed SK Chemtrade as agents.
In 2009 I registered Malome Leather as the TFL agency, and in 2021, I'm still here!