‘I don’t care if I get fired’: The ironmaker’s tale of redemption
In the early 1990s, Steve Evans was a machinist with a passion for working on machines.
It was the start of a career in machine tools that would see him build and sell machines from his shop in the town of Glenorchy, near Perth.
But Evans didn’t think much of his life until a call from a former apprentice at the company he worked for.
“I was in the shop with a colleague and we had a conversation and he said, ‘I’m going to take the job that you have been given, the job where you are working,'” Evans said.
Evans had always been a machined labourer, but in his early 20s he decided to try his hand at a career as an ironmaker.
“That was when I was working in the office for my dad’s business, which was a steel mill, which made steel products for export,” Evans said, referring to the company that built the famous Perth City Line railway.
Evans said the ironmaker was a place of pride, and it was a company he wanted to work for.
Evans spent a year training in the company and by the end of the year he was making iron parts for the mill.
He said he felt he had found his passion.
“My father was a proud owner of Glenora and he would always say to me, ‘you’ll be the first to know the iron maker’,” Evans said of his father, who was a keen iron maker.
“He always had the iron in him and he had that passion and that desire for iron.”
When Evans left the company, he went to work at a local quarry and found himself working on the same machine as a new apprentice, Peter.
“As a result of that I got to know Peter, and we ended up becoming good friends,” Evans recalled.
“It was a real learning experience for us.”
After three years at the mill, Evans was offered the job of building a new iron-making machine, and he was hired in 1994.
“This was the first machine that was built in the iron-working industry and I was absolutely blown away by the speed and accuracy of the machine,” Evans told ABC News.
“We did a lot of testing and we were going through a lot more testing than I had anticipated.”
After the first few months of testing, Evans and Peter built the first working machine, an old-fashioned hand drill.
Evans went on to work on the second machine, a hand drill that would later become the Iron Maker 1, which had a smaller footprint and was lighter.
“The first time I saw a machine, I thought, ‘wow, this is amazing’,” Evans recalled, noting the machine would be used in a few more machines before the company’s first line of products, the Ironmaker 2, would be made.
“By the time the second Iron Maker 2 came out, I was hooked,” Evans continued.
“Because it was the second hand drill, we were also going to be using it for the first time.”
Evans spent the next few years working on a range of new machines, including a new hand drill for the Iron maker 2.
The next machine was the Ironaker 3, which Evans said was the best-looking machine he had ever worked on.
“All of the machines were so different in terms of the size, weight, how fast it worked, and everything,” Evans recounted.
“And when I saw the first thing I was like, ‘Oh, that’s amazing’,” he said.
“There was this big gap in terms and all of the different types of machinery that we would be able to use.”
In 2000, the company changed its name to Ironmaker.
The new name stuck, with the ironmaking being a key part of the company.
In 2004, the ironmakers annual general meeting was held.
The first annual meeting of the Ironmakers was held in May.
Evans was on hand to attend and give the keynote address, as the company was about to enter a new era of manufacturing and distribution.
“When you go into a meeting and you are going to have people that have built up such a big following, you expect it to be a very positive time for them,” Evans remembered.
“But I don’t think it was that way.”
Evans was able to attend several meetings over the years, but this year, it was decided to move away from the name.
“To be honest I was a bit sad because I was looking forward to being a part of it and to be able get on with it,” Evans admitted.
“You’re looking forward every year to seeing the products coming out and it’s a bit bittersweet because you’ve got a great legacy, and you’ve had some fantastic customers.”
Evans, who is now 85, said he had no regrets about the decision to rename the company after his father.
“If I’d known about it, I would have taken that opportunity,” he