Fletcher Jones

Fletcher Jones (1895 – 1977) businessman
Though Fletcher Jones & Staff became one of the largest clothing manufacturers in the world, with four factories, 33 stores and almost 3000 employees, Fletcher lived simply in a two-bedroom bungalow. According to John Lack in the Australian Dictionary of Biography, Fletcher Jones “embodied a genuine and challenging expression of Australian egalitarianism informed by Christian teaching”.

Fletcher Jones was born on 14 August 1895 in Bendigo, Victoria. He was the fifth child of Samuel and Mahala Jones. His mother died two years after Fletcher was born, and Samuel married again and had four more children. Fletcher’s memory of his blended household was of a happy family.

The Joneses were committed Christians, involved in the Methodist Church at Golden Square. Samuel was an emigrant blacksmith who had a concern for workers’ rights. Fletcher once said that his “greatest inheritance is to have been born into a struggling Christian household”.

Fletcher attended Golden Square State School. Because he had a terrible stutter and was teased mercilessly, after school Samuel sent Fletcher to work on a tomato farm at Kangaroo Flat. There, the young man could work on his own without being bullied. When he wasn’t working, Fletcher was reading. He loved reading books on self-improvement and philosophy, theology and economics. Fletcher usually read aloud, in the hope of gradually overcoming his excruciating stammer.

In 1915, Fletcher enlisted in the Australian Imperial Force, and in 1916 was sent to France. He fought in the battle of Fromelles, was caught in a blast and buried alive for four hours. After being dug out, he lay unconscious for eight days. He never recovered fully from his injuries, and in 1918 was discharged as a TPI (Totally and Permanently Incapacitated).

On returning to Australia his stutter was worse than ever. However, Fletcher was determined to work and refused to live on the TPI pension. His doctor told Fletcher that he would have to learn to “speak or starve”. So Fletcher set himself the task of becoming a door-todoor salesman.

Fletcher got a loan, bought a hawker’s wagon, stocked it with materials and set out to sell his wares round farms in rural Victoria. In spite of his stammer, Fletcher’s honesty, integrity and courtesy became bywords for good business, and he flourished. Fletcher hired extra staff, bought several trucks, and started to hold special sales in country towns. The sale in Warrnambool proved so successful that Fletcher decided to set up his headquarters there. This high-quality tailoring business became the Fletcher Jones trademark. He started a family with Rena, his childhood friend from church.

At this time, Fletcher read the works of Toyohiko Kagawa, and was inspired by his vision of cooperatives. Toyohiko visited Melbourne, and Fletcher invited him to Warrnambool. Toyohiko came and became Fletcher’s mentor. Gradually, Fletcher turned his growing business over to his workers. To start with he gave them a third of the stock, but eventually they owned over two-thirds.

At Fletcher Jones & Staff, managers queued up in the same line for lunch as workers; managers and workers ate together in the same dining room; business decisions were made by cooperative teams of managers and workers; and profits were shared through dividends which were paid before workers’ rates were due.

Fletcher Jones & Staff took over a rubbish dump in an old quarry and transformed it into an innovative, modern factory set in a landscaped garden they named Pleasant Hill. It became a mecca for workers.

Though Fletcher Jones & Staff became one of the largest clothing manufacturers in the world, with four factories, 33 stores and almost 3000 employees, Fletcher lived simply in a two-bedroom bungalow. According to John Lack in the Australian Dictionary of Biography, Fletcher Jones “embodied a genuine and challenging expression of Australian egalitarianism informed by Christian teaching”.

In 1974, Fletcher Jones was knighted for his services to Australia, and on 22 February 1977 he died.

Source : http://www.tear.org.au/target/articles/fletcher-jones/  (now broken link)

Fletcher Jones: http://adbonline.anu.edu.au/biogs/A140662b.htm

also
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fletcher_Jones

http://www.abc.net.au/abccontentsales/s1876610.htm

http://blog.adonline.id.au/warrnambools-fletcher-jones-gardens/
[Note : The same concept H V McKay Gardens]

http://www.standard.net.au/story/1383140/port-fairy-beach-house-sale-to-fund-philanthropy/

http://www.standard.net.au/story/68796/the-end-for-warrnambools-fletcher-jones/

Illuminated crucifix taken down in Warrnambool after sole complaint
A single complaint has forced the removal of an illuminated crucifix display in Warrnambool, potentially ending a four-decade Easter tradition.  Council Chief Executive Bruce Anson said the cross was a tradition started by Sir Fletcher Jones.
http://www.heraldsun.com.au/news/victoria/illuminated-crucifix-taken-down-in-warrnambool-after-sole-complaint/story-e6frf7kx-1226022331564

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3 Responses to Fletcher Jones

  1. Graham J. Bradbury says:

    I would also like to know the whereabouts or contact details for Lois Meurs. Graham J. Bradbury e-mail thebradbury@bigpond.com.au Mobile 0425 665269

  2. Yvonne Biddle says:

    I want to know where Lois Meurs is. We were once friends in Sydney around 1996.

  3. Belinda says:

    I used to live in Warrnambool. It’s quite sad what happened to the business.

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