The memory of former Bundaberg Sugar chairman and chief executive Roy Deicke has been honoured with an entry in the Australian Dictionary of Biography (ADB).
The listing describes Mr Deicke as “a big, shambling man with a penchant for large American cars” who had “an affable personality that masked a steely resolve to successfully accomplish his aims”.
Born at Herberton in 1929 he joined the Fairymead Sugar Company at Bundaberg in 1960.
His abilities were quickly recognised with the dual appointment of research officer and assistant general mill manager in 1961, and promotion to general manager in 1963.
Under his guidance the company rapidly expanded, resulting in the acquisition of Gibson & Howes Ltd, sugar millers, and the formation of the Bundaberg Sugar Co Ltd in 1972, with Mr Deicke as group chief executive.
Three years later he played a pivotal role in Bundaberg Sugar’s takeover of the Millaquin Sugar Co Ltd.
The merger saw Mr Deicke elevated to managing director (1976–87), followed by his appointments as deputy chairman (1981) and chairman (1986) of the company’s board of directors.
Control of Millaquin Sugar also brought its subsidiary, Bundaberg Distilling Co Ltd, into the Bundaberg Sugar fold.
Mr Deicke took an active role in overhauling the distillery’s operations and promoting a more sophisticated image of its products, particularly its premium brand, Bundaberg Rum.
He was made a Companion of the British Order of St Michael and St George in 1982.
At the pinnacle of his career, a serious slump in the world price of sugar and uncertainty about the industry’s future profitability convinced shareholders in Bundaberg Sugar to hand over control to the British-based conglomerate Tate & Lyle Ltd in 1991, a move which Mr Deicke vigorously opposed.
His disappointment at failing to convince a majority to hold firm was reflected in his decision to resign that year from the company to which he had dedicated three decades of his life.
After he died in 1995, Mr Deicke was described as one of the state's true corporate gentlemen.
Australian Dictionary of Biography
The Australian Dictionary of Biography is Australia's pre-eminent dictionary of national biography. It contains concise, informative and fascinating descriptions of the lives of more than 12,000 significant and representative persons in Australian history. The subjects come from all walks of life — from prime ministers, governors-general and premiers, generals and bishops, artists, actors and authors, engineers and schoolteachers, to prostitutes, thieves and murderers — providing a cross-section of Australian society.
The ADB is produced by the National Centre of Biography at the Australian National University (ANU) and is available both as a hardcopy publication and online.
Murray Johnson, ‘Deicke, Roy (1929–1995)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University, http://adb.anu.edu.au/biography/deicke-roy-20257/text31315, published online 2019.