Meet the staff – Peter Bird

Peter receiving his commerce degree and living the Sumatran lifestyle in 1978.

Meet the staff – Peter Bird

My earliest memories of Abrecht Bird was working as a messenger boy during school holidays.

I was born and bread in Blackburn in the ‘olden’ days at a time when there were more empty paddocks there than houses. Aside from frequent discussions of the jewellery industry at our family dinner table, my earliest memories of the business were working as the messenger boy during school holidays. However, I did not seriously entertain the idea of joining the family firm as a career.

I chose to make my own way  – beginning work with the Commercial Bank of Australia and attending Melbourne University at night as a part time student. I joined a stock broking firm and after spending a few years in administration, on my 21st birthday I was appointed as an operator on the trading floor , an extremely exciting and demanding position.

The difficulties of juggling work with my university study became too onerous so I decided to take a year’s leave of absence to complete my Commerce course as a full time student.

My outside interests were centred around sport – cricket, football and golf until surfing became a dominating influence, which eventually overrode my earlier career choices. In order to move to the coast, I added a Diploma of Education to my Commerce degree and became a teacher at Foster High School.

Although I loved the job, the lure of the waves and letters from surfing mates overseas were too enticing and in 1978 (after marrying my wife Sally) we took off to Bali, surfboard in tow, with the view of travelling for 12 months. What a lifestyle! The best waves were often found in remote parts of Asia and Africa where we lived in tiny villages in places such as Sri Lanka, South Africa, Morocco and Sumatra. The year away turned into 3 ½ , but eventually our funds were exhausted and we began to think of returning home.

In a particularly well-timed letter, my father invited me to join the family business, and after contemplating the prospect in our tree-house room in Nias (Sumatra), I decided to give it a go.

The beauty of gemstones and jewellery design added another highly pleasurable layer to the normal stimulation of business.

I immediately found the multifaceted nature of the jewellery industry to be incredibly stimulating and I was eager to improve my knowledge, studying gemmology, diamond grading and valuing. The beauty of gemstones and jewellery design added another highly pleasurable layer to the normal stimulation of business.

I travelled extensively to service our customers in all major cities and towns around Australia and developed a relationship as agent for a major German manufacturer (OE Design based in Penang, Malaysia).

I achieved tremendous fulfilment from the work, but the business lifestyle came to an abrupt end when I was the victim of a well-planned robbery by a South American criminal gang who were ‘visiting’ Australia. Unharmed this time, the risks associated with travelling with cases full of high-value negotiable merchandise could no longer be ignored and reluctantly the family made a decision to discontinue this style of business.

It was at this point we made the decision to link up with long time friendly competitor, Fred Robert Abrecht. to form our current business – Abrecht Bird Jewellers.

So far, none of my sons are queuing up to take over the reins as our fifth generation. My first two sons, David and Chris, are qualified builders and obviously prefer to work outside rather than at a jewellery bench. Twins Dan and Josh enjoy their work in the food industry, Dan in vegetable produce, Josh as a Chef.

Although I missed the relationships formed with our retailer customers over past decades, I soon came to enjoy the chance to assist our growing list of private clients – sharing in their happy times and producing pieces of jewellery that delighted.

 

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