Retirement after 47 years for record-holding Ford worker

BLUE BLOOD: Graham Boswell retired in September after having served Ford SA for 47 years
BLUE BLOOD: Graham Boswell retired in September after having served Ford SA for 47 years

Ford SA’s longest serving employee has retired after walking through the doors of the motor giant 47 years ago to start his first job.

Graham Boswell, 63, retired in September, but his family has kept a close link to the iconic brand.

Boswell began his career at Ford’s Neave vehicle plant in the aptly named Henry Ford Road in Port Elizabeth on May 8 1972, following in the footsteps of his father who had worked for the company for almost 30 years.

“I remember that day clearly,” Boswell said.

“It was a beautiful, sunny morning and I can still remember being shown around the plant and seeing all the departments.”

“I had to drop out of school to help my dad put bread on the table, because we were nine brothers and two sisters.

“My father always told us that Ford was a great company to work for.

“Ford has been very good to the Boswell family, giving us the opportunity to grow and develop as part of the business.”

Though he started out in the stores, Boswell soon joined the fire and safety team  — an essential role he fulfilled throughout his career.

He later moved to the Struandale Engine Plant where Ford’s local manufacturing operations are now based.

“I am grateful for the training and development opportunities I had at Ford, which included being the first person selected to complete the Samtrac fire safety qualification, back in 1990,” he said.

Samtrac is one of the most sought-after training certificates in a risk management industry.

“This was one of my proudest moments.

“Though I wasn’t able to complete my schooling, I achieved 80% for the course, which was an amazing feeling.

“Through working at Ford I could help give my brothers and sisters the education I never had, and I was able to support my own family,” Boswell said.

“It is great to have two of my brothers, Derick and Greg, also working at the plant, and my other brother, Neil, worked at Ford too before passing away in a motorcycle accident.”

There’s a new generation of Boswells proudly continuing the legacy, as his daughter, Tania, Derick’s daughters Anthea and Roelien, along with Greg’s son, Sydney, have also joined the Ford family.

They are involved in various aspects of the Struandale Engine Plant, from communications to logistics and engine assembly.

Though the family has a long association with Ford’s Port Elizabeth operations, when Graham joined the company in 1972 the Boswells did not even own a car.

“We used to walk to work, which was about 15km away,” he said.

“My dad said that we mustn’t worry, because one day our yard will be full of Fords,” he said.

“I remember that my dad didn’t have enough money to buy a car, so I gave him R300 pocket money I had saved up to use as a deposit for a car, and that was how we got our first vehicle, a Cortina pickup, from the staff garage.

“It cost about R600 at the time.”

Boswell also enthused about his first car — a Ford, of course.

“My first car was a Cortina sedan, which was a special edition Springbok green colour with brown vinyl, and it even had the Springbok emblem on the sides.

“I had lots of Fords over the years as I improved my position in the company, and in line with the models that we built.”

He now drives an EcoSport 1.5 TDCi Titanium which he bought for his retirement.

“The low fuel consumption of the EcoSport turbodiesel helps a lot, as I now spend my time dropping off and collecting the grandchildren from school and, taking my wife shopping and visiting the beach.

“The Boswells all have blue blood.

“We love Ford, we live, sleep and breathe Ford, and the Ford family is our family.

“I really want to thank the Ford family for the great opportunities it has given the Boswell family.

“I passed through the exit gate with a happy heart, knowing that the family I leave here are in safe hands and within a great working environment.”

Ford SA MD Neale Hill said the company had always been a family-orientated business.

“It was founded by Henry Ford in 1903 and is now led by his great-grandson, Bill Ford, who is the executive chair,” he said.

On  Boswell, he said: “It is fantastic to see this kind of legacy in our SA operations where three generations of the same family have grown up living the brand and contributing to its success.

“We honour Graham Boswell and thank him for his dedication to the company over all these years.”