Retirement on hold for Fidel

He may be 81 years old but that doesn’t stop Fidel Russ turning up to his job as production manager at Wood Mallets in Central Hawke’s Bay at 5.30am four mornings a week.

Wood Mallets, located east of Otane, exports hand-crafted polo sticks and croquet mallets to more than 50 countries and Fidel has worked for the business since 1991.

Company founder and managing director George Wood describes the octogenarian as the most dedicated employee a business could wish for.

“Fidel is an extremely practical and talented craftsman, and his work ethic is second to none. Recently we asked him to cut back to forty hours a week and told him he’s not allowed to come in on Thursdays anymore.”

His three decades of commitment to the business was recognised at this year’s ExportNZ ASB Hawke’s Bay Export Awards when Fidel was named one of three winners of the Unsung Heroes Award, along with Mike Jones of Gisvin and Simon Beale of T&G Global. The award recognises work behind the scenes of exporting companies and the judges said they couldn’t single out any one winner, so decided to recognise the three businesses and individuals “who, in their own way, each make a significant difference to exporting in the region”.

George and his father Peter established Wood Mallets in 1981 and Fidel started working for the business a decade later, shortly after emigrating from Argentina. Over the years Wood Mallets has grown steadily to become the world’s leading manufacturer of handcrafted croquet mallets and an internationally renowned producer of polo mallets.

“The success of this business has stemmed from the fact that our standard of craftsmanship is obviously extremely high and quality control is paramount,” George says.


First published by The Profit. Click here to read the full article.