Alex Grossman used to be involved in refining and would produce all metal alloys to meet the metal requirements of manufacturing jewellers. Well regarded by the trade, he passed away in Melbourne recently, aged 96.
Born on July 13, 1925, Alex grew up in Poland, in a town called Czelandz near the German border, where his father owned a hardware store. As a schoolboy he took a great interest in woodwork and chemistry and was known for his cheeky sense of humour.
During the German occupation of Poland, Alex spent time in a concentration camp and in April 1945, was transferred to a British DP camp. Stricken with fever, he suffered a painful, swollen leg which was later found to be DVT, causing him to have a bad leg throughout his life.
Diagnosed with typhoid fever in the British camp, the Red Cross put him on a stretcher and carried him on board a ship bound for Sweden to recuperate. When he recovered, he took a job painting houses for eight weeks, spending his first pay on a new tailor-made suit. Alex loved to look smart and was particularly fond of wearing a navy suit and tie or a sports jacket.
After some time spent in Israel, Alex arrived in Australia in 1952 with his wife and infant daughter and settled in Melbourne.
A “jack of all trades,” Alex worked in a variety of jobs, including a bakery, knitting factory, milk bar and delicatessen. When an opportunity arose to buy a precious metal business, he took this up, drawing on the metallurgical skills he picked up working in a foundry in Sweden.
Alex purchased the business of Analytic Gold Refining in the early 1970’s. The wholesale precious metal supply business to the local manufacturing trade soon supplied the majority of the CAD manufacturing jewellers.
His increasing concern that releasing acid fumes in central Melbourne was not right saw him enter into discussions with gold refiners, PJ’S. Williams & Assoc.
“We established our first business relationship by carrying out refining for him whilst he concentrated on providing a gold alloy supply service to his growing client base,” the then CEO of P.J. Williams, Phil Williams said. Mr Williams is the current chairman of Pallion.
In 1984, Alex offered Analytic to Mr Williams in a handshake deal. “When I asked for the name of his solicitor, he asked who mine would be, then saying, ‘yes I know Ian, a good man, I will use him too.’ Alex trusted his judgement of character, but presented my solicitor with a dilemma,” he recalled.
At this time, Mr Williams became aware of the extent of Alex’s support for his clients, with those who had genuinely fallen on hard times given long credit terms or at times, forgiveness of debt.
As part of their agreement, Alex was to continue with P.J. Williams on a consultancy basis for two years. This stretched out to 10 years until his retirement in 1994. Such was his love of ongoing involvement with those he regarded.
“Alex was well known in the industry for being fair and honest and helping out people with their business and personal financial issues. He had a quirky side and a wry sense of humour,” recalled Pallion state fabrications manager, Graeme Turnbull.
“He was much loved by members of the jewellery manufacturing trade in Melbourne. I will always regard him as my second father,” Mr Turnbull said.
Alex enjoyed helping jewellery students and was involved with a number of charities including the Jewish National Fund and Vision Australia, where he did woodwork. Very much a “can do” person, Alex always carried a tool box in his car. At the age of 80 he became a driver for residents at the Montefiore Aged Care Centre in Melbourne.
Alex Grossman was very active in the Jewish faith and served on the Board of Elders in his local Jewish community. He is remembered for his loyalty, compassion and sense of humour. He leaves behind his wife of 72 years, Tamara and two daughters, Esther and Helen.