Historical information

Dr Henry Nowik played a critical role in the development of industry in Wodonga, through his management and leadership of Uncle Bens Wodonga from 1965 until 1979.

Born in Poznan, Poland in 1917, Henry was studying medicine in Paris when World War II broke out and he enlisted in the Royal Air Force, serving with distinction as a Bomber Pilot. He was imprisoned in Russia when his plane ditched, escaped through Kazakhstan and was eventually evacuated to London where he was appointed RAF Aide-de-Camp to General Charles de Gaulle. He was later awarded the French Croix de Guerre.

After the war Dr Nowik received a PhD in Political Science and Law from American Beirut University before moving to London to teach at the London School of Economics. He then moved into industry occupying a number of senior positions in marketing and market research.

In 1964, Dr Nowik, then Market Research Manager for Pedigree Petfoods, the British arm of Mars Inc., came to Australia to research the prospects for establishing a petfood business. Dr Nowik was a passionate believer in the need for decentralisation of Australian industry. In 1965 Uncle Bens of Australia built their first Australian factory in Wodonga, Victoria, from humble beginnings in a small house in Hovell Street. Dr Nowik became the Marketing and Sales Director and in 1970 the Managing Director.

Dr Nowik's work as a member of the Albury-Wodonga Consultative Committee was recognized in 1975 with the Order of the British Empire and in 1977 he was appointed Chairman of the Commonwealth Government's Decentralisation Advisory Board. He participated in a number of trade missions to Malaysia, China and Japan and was a Member of the Executive Committee of the Trade Development Council and the Victorian Promotion Committee. These contributions were recognised in 1982 when he was made an Officer of the Order of Australia.

In 1979, Dr Nowik left Wodonga and moved to the United States to become Vice-President, Marketing for Mars, becoming Global Product Group President in 1980. Following his retirement in 1985 he continued to act as Senior Advisor to a number of Mars' businesses.

Albury-Wodonga retained a special place in Dr Nowik's heart and he kept a close interest in Charles Sturt University, sharing his time, experience and expertise with staff and students. The University made him an honorary Doctor of Letters in 1993 when the Henry Nowik Lecture Theatre officially opened at the University's Albury campus. Later the City of Wodonga named a park in his honour.
Dr Nowik and his wife returned to Australia in 2004, first living in Brisbane then moving to Maleny in Queensland. Henry Nowik died on 12th March 2015 aged 98.

Significance

These items are significant because they demonstrate the contribution made to the Wodonga community and the Australian economy by Dr Henry Nowik AO OBE.

Physical description

A collection of items briefly documenting the contribution of Dr Henry Nowik to Wodonga, Victoria. Included are photos of Dr Nowik, newspaper items, a photo of the first office of Uncle Bens in Wodonga and a farewell card from Dr Nowik.