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The New Zealand Railways Magazine, Volume 1, Issue 2 (June, 1926)

Prime Minister at Business Agents’ Conference — Advises Teamwork—One Mind—One Effort — The Railway's Place in the Social and Economic Life of the Country

page 6

Prime Minister at Business Agents’ Conference
Advises Teamwork—One Mind—One Effort
The Railway's Place in the Social and Economic Life of the Country

In addressing the Conference, Mr. Coates thanked Mr. Mouat for acquiescing in the proposal for a Conference at that time. The Business Agents in the performance of their work had given excellent results—every one of them. A conference such as the one now being held would tend to unify their methods and actions, so that there would be only one mind in getting business. He wanted them to have a frank discussion. He thought of putting himself in the position of a Business Agent. What would he do? First he would recognise the need for getting more business and then he would want some freedom in dealing with shippers and customers in regard to new potential traffic.

Should the Business Agents have more authority? It seemed to him that this course was worthy of examination. It was recognised that the prompt closing of a deal was at times necessary and that if it were possible to arrange the machinery of the Department to make this course more feasible, better business might result. A good deal of traffic had already been won back. £133,300 was traced to the Commercial Department and the efforts of the Department's officers and men. They wanted to get more back, and, in addition to the recovery of lost traffic, they should obtain business from new sources. Theirs was the great transportation business of the country. He was not offering to tell them how to do their job. It was their business to choose a method, and their duty to get it done. He would mention, however, that among useful points it would be a good idea to keep letters of appreciation for publishing in the “Magazine.” He stated that nothing was too small to be worth while. The public were sometimes inclined to be in the mood for growling, and, in certain cases, with justification, perhaps; but there was much less of that now than formerly. To know that others were pleased would help to an understanding. Business Agents should rather tend to take the public viewpoint as to what was required. They were not the transportation officers. It was for the latter to find out how to get the secured business transported. A good deal might be done for the staff by lecturettes—the Business Agents getting down to details of business-winning in their talks with the staff.

Business Agents had it in their power to make the rest of the staff enthusiastic on the lines of every man getting business. A feature that might be considered by the Department was traffic with the country districts and extending even to the back-blocks. Possibly char-a-bancs and lorries might be put on. It was the particular job of the Business Agents to make the Railway Service essential to the people. He was aware of the difficulties they had to encounter, but he was optimistic regarding their capacity to overcome these. He asked for hearty co-operation. They should get ideas, or find out where they were to be had; have a clear notion of what was intended; let their whole anxiety be to make the Department take its proper place in the social and economic life of the community. He would advise them not to miss any opportunity. Team work was the thing—one mind, one effort. The aim should be to have a general understanding as to what was intended, and then get ahead with the work. The Administration was prepared to give credit for good work. In conclusion, speaking for the Board and himself, he wished to express their satisfaction with the year's result.

Among a bundle of old printed matter bought at a sale the other day, we came across a copy of a letter written in 1829 by Lord Crecoy, a great sportsman in his day and generation. It seems that his lordship had accepted an invitation to a house party, for which part of the entertainment provided was a ride of “five miles on the new railway.” He tells his experience in the letter referred to. Here it is—

The quickest motion is to me frightful. It is really flying, and it is impossible to divest yourself of the notion of instant death to all upon the least accident happening. It gave me a headache that has not left me yet.

Poor old sport! The terrific speed, which he declared to be “really flying,” was twenty-three miles an hour!

* * *

Don't let us make imaginary evils, when you know we have so many real ones to encounter.—Goldsmith.