JOHN Mott has been recognised for an illustrious career reviving lost Bendigo jobs as well as work cooling everything from mines to factories that produce one million pizzas a day.
The engineer and former general manager of Gordon Brothers Industries has been awarded the air conditioning and refrigeration industry's highest honour with an induction into the ARBS Hall of Fame.
"The thing I feel most chuffed about is that over 45 years most of my career has been in Bendigo," he said.
That attitude has taken on an even greater significance since the pandemic began with manufacturing helping prop up the wider Bendigo economy, Mr Mott said.
It has remained by far the largest in Bendigo's economy throughout the pandemic and in September was worth more than $196 million in output, according to analysis by economic consultancy group REMPLAN.
Mr Mott began his career at the now defunct McNiece Brothers, a company supplying huge cooling systems to many industries including food.
That included a high-stakes project in the 1970s for fishing trawlers which needed better onboard freezers to keep tuna pink until they reached Japanese markets.
A prerequisite for tuna to this market is that it must retain a lovely pink colour when delivered," Mr Mott said.
"The only way this can be achieved is to freeze the tuna down to a temperature of -50 degrees centigrade or colder after catch, and then maintain it at that temperature all the way to market."
A conventional freezer would only cool to a balmy -30 degrees, which would turn the tuna's flesh grey and wipe as much as $19,600 a tonne from the price fishermen could fetch.
"I worked on a heap more projects than that, which were all really interesting in their own way," Mr Mott said.
In 1984 McNiece Brothers collapsed after a rapid expansion and Mr Mott spent several years overseas, including in Ohio where he helped design a refrigeration system for a pizza factory that could produce 1000 pizzas a minute.
"The numbers become quite mind-boggling on projects like that," he said.
Yet Mr Mott maintained his ties to Bendigo and in 1990 was part of a Gordon Brothers' push to fill at least part of the void left by McNiece's collapse in Bendigo.
Enough high-skilled workers had remained in the city to make Gordon's believe it worth setting up a manufacturing centre.
"It made it a relatively straightforward process to set up, and the centre is still going today," Mr Mott said.
He was appointed general manager in 1996 and worked on multiple major projects including cooling skyscrapers, factories and underground mineshafts.
Mr Mott retired in 2017 and has since had something of a second career, including founding a national industry group for manufacturers who believe ammonia could be the future of green energy.
The emerging technology would use ammonia as a carbon-free fuel and battery storage solution.
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