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An inventive way to have fun at Reynella

John Eldridge is standing with his hands clasped behind his back next to a homemade arcade machine.
Supported Employment
General News
16 Mar 2021

With plenty of ingenuity, some PVC pipe, offcuts of timber and a whole lot of creativity, supervisor John Eldridge at Reynella’s Commercial Enterprises is bringing the fun to the workshop floor.

From scratch, John crafted a fully-functioning skeetball machine complete with lights and sounds, a machine that recreates all the arcade fun and has proven to be a real hit with the supported employees.

A self-confessed “tinkerer”, John says he sourced much of the materials on site including timber from Trak Furniture, old pipes, packaging cardboard from pallet corners and a toy gun to help create the laser sounds.

“It took a fair bit of time and effort, I wasn’t working off any plans, but the end result is proving popular,” John says.

“There was a bit of fine tuning involved in adjusting the ramp and making sure the ball returns worked properly in line with the points they score.”

It took a fair bit of time and effort, I wasn’t working off any plans, but the end result is proving popular

- John Eldridge

Fun and games isn’t the only thing this supervisor-turned-MacGyver has had an influence on at the Reynella operations, with a simple and cheap adjustment to the liquid filling line doubling the output capacity of staff.

“We fill a lot of bottles of things like bleach and disinfectant for customers but our machine could only do one litre at a time.

“I started playing around with my irrigation at home to see how with various pumps and taps I could get two taps flowing at the same rate.

“Then through trialing different bits of gear on site including solenoids, we were able to cheaply create a machine that could fill two bottles at once, slashing the time it would normally take to fill orders.”

When he’s not coming up with inventive plans for improving things at work, John can be found in his workshop at home creating products like wooden yo-yos, timber and resin pens as well as marshmallow toasting forks.

“I started out wanting to make toys for children through the charity Mercy Ships which operates hospital ships in developing nations, but sending toys like yo-yos probably wouldn’t have worked.

“So, I make these things in my spare time and sell them through a great shop in Port Noarlunga called Made of Stars, and part of my proceeds are donated to Mercy Ships.”

Even John’s workshop is display of imagination – a rustic farm building that was dismantled, relocated, rebuilt and repurposed into a creative wonderland.

“My workshop is my inspirational place where all these ideas come from.”

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