Nutt & Muddle
Nutt and Muddle
New Century Novelty Company
History of the Company
In preparing the agenda for today's meeting, our Country Sales Manager thought it would be a good idea if we were to take a little time to 'look into the history of this company, and as we have a number of new faces in our ranks, I said "yes - that's a good idea" - guess who got the job - as Bob says 'you're the oldest:? Really I got the message as I realised he wasn't only talking about years of service!
Well, in the beginning there was a NUTT and a MUDDLE. Nobody but nobody could have concocted a business name which was to become so famous, or infamous, throughout this State.
As I said in the beginning the partnership was essentially involved in pinball machines, Shirley Eather, formerly Shirley Muddle, tells the story of the family car coming home from a run down to the coast, after clearing the machines and the whole family sitting up all hours counting and wrapping pennies.
It all started way back in the 30's. Sid Muddle had been in the leather goods industry, Roy Nutt had been Sales Manager for Barnett Glass before the company had been taken over by Dunlop's. Both men served in the first A.I.F, - Sid in France Roy in the Middle East.
After the war, they heard of a few poker machines which were lying around the remnants of American Army Camps in Australia and in the Islands, Roy tracked them down and Sid repaired and got them in working order. They were hired to clubs; at anything from £1 upwards per week. Then it was thought to produce their own machine - they had a friend called Charlie Hill who was extremely clever in this field - and thus New Century Novelty Company was formed.
This took place in 1948 and the Company of Nutt & Muddle was formed at the same time. The leasing of machines was not confined to the metropolitan area, when I joined the company, clubs like Bathurst, Rugby League, Golf, Orange Ex-Services in fact all the clubs in those two towns had "Jubilee" machines.
It would not be possible to get two men of opposite tastes and personalities in a partnership. Both had utmost respect and loyalty to each other. Roy was the typical salesman - "How many orders?", "What's the deal like", and he personally lead a team of six sales fellows to Newcastle to break into the area. He did this by offering machines at £5 per week repayment - this was our first inroads into that area.
His son Ken was not sales orientated, as he used to say "Ken couldn't sell fish on Good Friday". Ken was involved in the production side and this field was Sid Muddle's baby. It always impressed me the respect by which Sid Muddle was held. He walked through the front door every morning at the same time - said "good morning" to all office staff en route to his office - shed coat and hat, and then proceeded through to the factory to the Factory Manager and again, it was "good morning" to everybody, calling them by name. He usually finished work about 5-00 pm and invariably you'd find him at The Bayswater having a beer with the boys.
In 1953 Charlie Hill died and N.C.N.C. became solely a Nutt & Muddle family company. I joined the company in 1955 and from memory the factory staff was approximately 60 men, men like A. Smythe who was Factory Manager. Bob Greig, Bert Mills, Alex Moras and Walter Racker. These five chaps have just
completed their 20 years service. We had one city serviceman, in Bud Sorenson, a Yank, who had married a Sydney girl, By about 1957 John Muddle had joined the ranks, firstly as a serviceman, then sales. In 1956 we had the legalisation of poker machines and it was beaut invoicing out all those $5 per week poker machines at $800 each.
In the Country we had Jim Parsons, whose territory was West of Lithgow, a few years later we had Ron Hazell at Wagga and I'll never forget his expressions when we sent him to Wentworth. He had a new Holden sedan and reckoned it was wrecked by the time he got back to Wagga! Said there were no roads, only the Murray or paddocks. We were then invaded by Apex people - Harry Douglas, Bill Donnelly, Doug Waddell joined us. Bud left us in May 1959, we had a farewell party for him and also to No. 14 Barcom Avenue, as we moved the next week into our new 2-storey factory with, as we thought, loads of space. We released the first front opening machine, Mark II, at that time - the first one going into Bondi Diggers.
September 1959 produced an association between ourselves, Apex and Ainsworth - the name being Associated Club Industries. It lasted exactly six weeks - Lennis Ainsworth didn't like the way his clubs - when confronted by a choice of three machines - chose the Jubilee, Apex second on price and the Aristocrat coming a bad last.
A new association was formed called Jubpex - and remained in vogue till February I960. When this association with Ray Smith ended - we had strengthened our position considerably - both in Clubs and in personnel. Jim Mitchell stayed with Nutt & Muddle as did Bill Anderson, thus securing the South Coast. Harold Smith, who prior to ACI days, had been our agent in the 'gong area, worked with John Muddle in producing a sales team. John and his father, Sid, went to London as we had information about the proposed legalisation of machines for the U.K, It was decided to set up our own company called Jubilee Products - and we were right in the act from the beginning - John and his family stayed a few years - Harold did a term, then John went back, then Harold - and today Geoff Muir, an Aussie, and Harold is our London Director, Peter Markwort (currently our General Manager of N.C.N.C.)
spent quite a few years with Jubilee - as did Bob Poynter now our Assistant Service Manager in metropolitan area.
We were interested in exports in the late 50's and supplied machines to Yankee Army Camps in Europe - manufacturing them for the various messes in a variety of denominations of American coins. We also had large orders for the supply of machines for the Yanks in Vietnam and Jubilee International for the American Industrial Service. In the mid fifties we had sold quite a few hundred machines in W.A. However, when the W.A. Government kicked out poker machines we bought them back by the semi-trailer loads.
Our machines have been exported to many areas - U.S. Army Camps throughout Europe, U.S. Army Camps in South-East Asia, Pacific Islands area, Macao, Europe - we even had a couple in Las Vegas, in various ships operating the Australian run, P & 0., Shaw Saville, Chandris Lines, etc., and the Russian Ships. As stated earlier, the first F/0 was produced in 1959, we followed this with a F/0 with larger award glass then the International.
In 1966 the Riviera was released, 1968 saw the Mark 6 Electro Mechanical, First Five Reeler - Show Poker 1969 and our Mark 12 in May 1972. The rest you know.
No doubt you are aware the Holding Company was formed in April 1965, we were listed on the Sydney Stock Exchange, and in 1969 the business Roy and Sid commenced just with one decrepit pinball machine in 1936, was sold to Cope Allman for $3.7 million.
It has been a most interesting and varied 20 years for me I've witnessed a small family company grow to become a public company with all the ramifications involved and I've touched only part of the past, however, gentlemen, the present and future history of this company is in the hands of each one present today.
F/0 = front opening