Ronald William McCulloch (Mr Mac) was born on the 11th April 1923. His parents, William (Bill) and Dorothy McCulloch were from Caulfield South. Following his schooling, Ron signed up as an apprentice Fitter and Turner in the tool room of Diecasters in Collingwood and moved on to become a highly valued tradesman.
In 1945 Ron finished at Die Casters and together with his father Bill, formed the partnership W. McCulloch & Son. They converted the first of two H.V.McKay Auto Headers to run on tracks for “Track–Cutting” on a rice growing project at Wakool in NSW. This innovative machine was state of the art at that time. It remains on public display at a memorial park at Coleambally NSW, honouring the pioneers of the irrigation district.
Ron formed a second very important partnership in August 1947 when he married Thelma Maclay.
W. McCulloch & Son expanded into baling straw in the off season for a company called Stramit. In 1952, as a result of requests from local farmers, Bill and Ron manufactured the first hydraulically operated land grader and it worked very well. Not long after, the track cutting machines were sold and some tractors & balers purchased for contract harvesting and baling.
In 1956 Stramit decided to build a new factory in Bendigo and it was decided the McCulloch family would to relocate to Golden Square. Times were tough juggling between rice harvesting around the Leeton area and straw baling from Leeton right down to the outskirts of Melbourne. Ron was away from the family for long periods and the work was hard.
In 1958 they decided to try their hand manufacturing more land graders like the ones that were successful at Leeton a few years earlier. They purchased a large quantity of ex-airforce landing gear hydraulic cylinders from the army disposal sales and started into the manufacturing business. The sale of graders steadily increased into the early 1960’s and things started to fall into place.
In 1970 Ron bought a large block of ground on the Midland Highway at Epsom to build a new factory. The business moved out to its current location in Epsom in 1972 with a total of four staff.
As a businessman, Ron conducted himself in the same honest way he had lived throughout life. His gentle and respectful manner set the stage for the way McCullochs has operated ever since. The business continued to grow over the years with Ron Jnr and Ken taking over the management roles. Friendships were formed over the years with many long serving employees, suppliers and customers. He encouraged employees to be proud of their workmanship and supported them to improve quality and production processes.
Ron was a man of few words but everyone listened when he quietly offered his wisdom. He was lovingly called ‘Mr Mac’ as a mark of respect by all the staff and many of the customers. Ron was very proud when grandsons Jeffrey, Stephen and Andrew joined the business in the early 2000’s to make a fourth generation at W. McCulloch & Son. After his retirement in 2003 at 80 years of age, he would enjoy walking around the workshop looking at the jobs underway and talking to the staff. Ron was one of only a handful who had exhibited at all Elmore Field Days since their inception.
Ron was a highly organised and resourceful person, but in early 2000’s started to forget things he felt should have remembered. He was later diagnosed with a form of Dementia which, over the next few years gradually robbed him of his independence and his precious memories.
Ron sadly passed away on August 5th 2009. He is sadly missed, but never forgotten.