Vale Ken Willcock

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Long-time pump professional, and Life Member of the PIA, Ken Willcock passed away in late September 2017.

Presentation to K&L of a special award for export promotion by the Minister for Science in 1977. Over the course of his career in pumps, Ken worked for Pomona Pumps, Kelly & Lewis, and GAAM Engineering. He was also a member of the Australian Pump Manufacturers Association (APMA) – the forerunner of the PIA – from its inception, was a member of the APMA council since 1975, and took on the role of President from 1980-1982.

A long career in pumps

Presentation to K&L of a special award for export promotion

Ken’s career in pumps started after a visit to the Snowy Hydro Mountains Scheme, which spurred him to complete a Certificate of Civil Engineering. It was during the course of his studies that he met his mentor Bob Moore and began working as a spotter for Pomona deep well pumps (a product line of FN Bethune). He stayed with Bethune until the company was acquired by Clyde Engineering.

Following his time with Bethune, he worked for Harland Engineering as Sales Engineer until 1962 when he began working for Kelly & Lewis (K&L) where he was later appointed Sales Manager (Standard Products).

In 1970 K&L opened a sales and engineering office in Singapore and Ken took on the role of South East Asian Manager. This involved moving to Singapore where Ken stayed with his family until 1975 when he took on the role as General Sales Manager of K&L. He was also appointed to K&L’s Board as Commercial Director in 1978.

In 1976, Wormald International took over K&L’s parent company Mather and Platt, however the relationship was not a happy one. So Ken accepted the position of General Manager at a small Australian pump company called GAAM Engineering – a subsidy company of UK company SPP. A few years later Ken was appointed Managing Director of GAAM, following
the company’s takeover by Canadian company Wajax Limited. Ken retired from GAAM in 1995.

After this, Ken did some consulting work for GAAM and Weir Engineering in Vietnam and the Philippines respectively.

Ken’s passion for pumps was evident throughout his career and he was held in high regard by his colleagues and the industry.

APMA activities

During his time with the APMA Ken worked as an industry lobbyist, using his contacts with government to deal with issues such as terms and conditions, tariffs and state preferential purchasing. These were all issues that impacted significantly on APMA members.

“He was a very good leader and formed many friendships across the industry, and he used these friendships to further the interest of the APMA and encourage participation…

He remained a friend and continued his interest in the industry association becoming a Life Member and participating in AGM’s and annual dinners,” Kevin Wilson, PIA Treasurer/Secretary and Executive Officer said.

Beyond pumps

Outside of pumps, Ken had a love for classical music which began as a boy when he learnt piano. He was a keen sailor and joined a group of friends each weekend to race a Diamond Class yacht on Port Phillip Bay. He also loved skiing and would take winter holidays to follow his pastime of cross country skiing. Following his retirement he decided to learn the trumpet and played with Melbourne’s Stonnington City Brass before moving to Tasmania to be closer to his son. He also enjoyed playing bowls.

Ken is survived by his wife Cherie and his two children Stewart and Kerry.

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