In 1951, Norman (Norrie) Sweetmore was born in Montrose’s Charleton House, then a maternity hospital situated on the outskirts of the town.
Little did he know that, at 62 years of age, he’d be retiring from his job at GE Oil & Gas’ subsea manufacturing site, located on very same Charleton Road on Friday, May 30, after 28 years’ service. In the words of his wife, “he’s not travelled very far”.
Norrie started his career as a mechanical fitter, before the lure of technology and global operations led him to join the oil industry with a role in a services company that took him across the Middle East through much of the 1980s. He joined GE Oil & Gas seven years later as a fitter in Test & Assembly, before working his way up to become plant manager, where he spent 10 years, before becoming Services Regional Shop Leader for the Europe, Middle East & Caspian (EMC) region, a role he has held for the past two years.
Norrie was one of just 80 employees at the site. He has seen the site transform from a relatively small facility, to the large-scale global operation it is today, employing more than 200 people. Responsible for significant change at the site in his time with GE, Norrie helped drive a £5.9 million expansion project, designed to grow the site from 13 to 21 acres, doubling the size of the existing highbay and enhancing the business’ capacity and capabilities.
Norrie said: “My career with GE Oil & Gas has been based entirely in Montrose, but I’ve also been fortunate enough to see much of the world, working across Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Abu Dhabi, Dubai, Qatar and Singapore. My fondest memory has been developing the current Charleton Road facility from the small plant it was back in 1987, to the current, multi-skilled, multi-product business that we have today. I love the plant, the people that work here and the products we supply.
“The oil and gas industry has given me a great career. It’s a demanding, challenging industry, but it is also a rewarding one, which keeps evolving, with new products, better recovery methods and new frontiers to explore.
“I’ve been very fortunate in my career to have worked with some of the best leaders in the industry and have never had to look hard for something to do. It’s an exciting, prosperous business that drives you on.”
Norrie is planning to spend more time with his family; wife Denise, sons, Scott, an Instruments and Control Room Technician and Craig, a Lead Assembly Hand, their wives and his two young grandchildren. He and his wife will spend some time in the summer touring France in their motorhome, with a ‘Med’ cruise planned for later in the year. Norrie also said he “might even manage a round or two of golf”.
Norrie had a spectacular send-off with current and former employees, along with previous GE retirees, enjoying a barbecue.
He was presented with gifts, including an historic photo diary documenting his many years with the company.