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A grand tribute to an amazing man - Ron Allatt

by Alistair Murray 9 Aug 2019 00:48 BST
Ron Allatt at the Victorian Export Awards back in the day. © Ronstan

With the passing of Ron Allatt, a piece of the Ronstan story moves distinctly into the pages of history. Our good friend Alistair Murray delivered the following oration to family, colleagues, and associated yachties in Melbourne recently to celebrate Ron Allatt’s life. Alastair has kindly and happily allowed us to share with us all, his very personal take on a life, a man, and a global business…

Ron and Stan met in 1946 and raced Sharpies together, before joining forces in 1951 to build boats and make stainless steel fittings. They officially formed Ronstan in 1953 and established the company in a factory they built with their own hands in Advantage Road, Highett.

They began exporting their fittings first to Canada in the early sixties, and then to the rest of the world and they built up a hell of a great company!

Their legacy is a close knit, wonderful organisation that has carved a reputation for being a world leading Australian company, taking on the world, and winning countless awards and accolades along the way. Ronstan is an Australian icon. Australia has always been to the forefront in international sailing, whether it be winning the America’s Cup in 1983 with the Ronstan fitted Australia II, or as the leading sailing country on the medal count in recent Olympics, with Ronstan sponsoring the Australian Olympic team. Along the way there have been a few individuals in the sailing industry who have excelled to a similar degree and are recognised internationally. I think of people like Ben Lexcen, Craig Whitworth and Rolly Tasker. Although their personal names were not as well known, with the Ronstan name, Ron and Stan rank right up there with them.

They retired young. Having built such a great company, and having moved from Advantage Road to the modern factory at 220 Bay Road Sandringham in the early ‘70’s, Ron and Stan sold the company to ARC Industries in 1977. I clearly remember having to show Stan how to tie his tie as we headed up in the lift in the city tower for the official handover.

With Stan being 52 and Ron only 47 I often felt they had sold too early, and this was certainly the case for Stan, but Ron went on to live a rich and rewarding, active life. His interests included investing in real estate and other areas, interest in public affairs (he was a frequent writer to the newspapers), bowls, wood work (where he created some wonderful furniture and art), fishing, golf and of course his family, with his wonderful wife Jan and his daughters Tracey and Jodie and their husbands and children, all of whom were frequent and loving visitors to Ron in his later years, bringing him much joy. He would always brag to me about the achievements of his grandchildren!

Ron called me into his office one day in 1980 and told me he wanted me to go to America and set up a Ronstan distribution facility. I was 24 years old, and three and a half weeks later I was married and living in America. To this day I cannot believe the faith he had in such a young man and the responsibility he gave me. It set me up for life in so many ways and I have always taken a lot of joy from the accomplishments of young people myself as a result.

I remember him visiting me in 1981 in California as if it was yesterday. I picked him up at Orange County Airport and I remember watching him striding happily and confidently across the tarmac. He was still a young man himself and he was at the very top of his game.

And now I’m so much older than he was then and am retired myself, so the circle turns, but it has been great to stay in touch with Ron and Jan over the past forty years. This has included beers at Black Rock Yacht Club, visits to their home and in later years at Fairway, and of course many visits by Ron to Ronstan, which he enjoyed immensely.

There was the memorable time the Ronstan management team was locked away in the Board room with some important visitors and Ron bowled in with one of his mates who he was showing around and completely disrupted the meeting, much to the amusement of everyone!

There were also a few occasions when old Ron, on a walk around the factory, would tell someone to pick that up, or tidy this. Some of the younger people clearly wondered who he was, but they did it anyway! So, it’s farewell to Ron, and with Stan gone too it’s the end of an era. Ron had a wonderful, extraordinarily successful and fulfilling life, and like many before him has left behind a close family that will remember him for ever as the wonderful family man he was.

But Ron also left his name on the front our building, on our cars, our shirts, our catalogues and websites and on the products we handle daily. He left an indelible mark on our lives and couldn’t possibly have imagined he would be doing so when he started Ronstan with Stan at its humble beginnings in 1953.

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