After a long and highly successful career, Nigel Roberts retired on Friday, 30 September, after 45 years with Baker Perkins.
A stalwart of the business, here he shares his story with us…
“I started my 45 year career at Baker Perkins in July 1977. I left school at the age of 16, spent a week on the dole and was one of the first school leavers to enrol on the YTS (Youth Opportunity Scheme) for six months. The six months was due to be spent in six different departments. I started off in Purchasing, then went into the Production Control office followed by the Computer/Data Processing department. During the third month I was offered a full-time position in the Purchasing department.
I started on 26 September 1977 as a Purchasing trainee with an eye watering starting salary of £1,245.00 per annum. With this full-time position, I was following my Uncle Oswald who worked in the maintenance department and my mum Shirley who worked in the reprographics department.
My trainee status meant that I started at the bottom, expediting and administration, but soon I progressed to Material Controller, buying in both castings and raw materials. Although dumb computer terminals were used in the department, we relied heavily on recording stock levels, orders, receipts and issues on index cards for every single part number.
The company allowed me to go to day college and night school to attain additional O levels and then on to the Chartered Institute of Purchasing and Supply (CIPS) four-year training course at Peterborough Technical College.
In 1988 I progressed to a Mechanical Assistant buyer and during the 90s moved on to a divisional buying role working in the CCS division (Chocolate, Confectionery, Snack). I have fond memories of working closely with both the mechanical and electrical engineering departments, of which the likes of Dave Seekins and Dave Miller are still with the company.
The 90s also saw the Industrial Extrusion Division, that was based in Newcastle-under-Lyme, transfer its manufacturing base to Paston. I was heavily involved in the transfer of the procurement activities into Paston and spent many days travelling back and forth between the two sites.
From 1990 to the present day I have been part of the project teams implementing two new business systems, PS and Epicor, into the company and as recently as 2021 an upgrade to Epicor. As a super user I also trained the Procurement department in Baker Perkins Inc, Grand Rapids and APV Goldsboro.
From a buyer position I progressed to Senior Buyer and finally Commodity Manager. One thing that I am proud of was being Joint Manager of the department with my purchasing mentor, Trevor Ward, who was previously Bakery Division Purchasing Manager and also Invensys Group Purchasing Manager. I owe a lot to Trevor on his guidance during my early years.
Over 45 years I’ve purchased everything from castings, raw materials, mechanical and electro-mechanical parts, electrical components, outside processes, high value merchanted equipment, company cars, IT equipment, telecoms, and energy to name but a few.
In 2017 I also took on the role of Chief Fire Warden for the site and hopefully didn’t pick a day when the weather was bad to carry out fire evacuation practices!
The one thing that stands out for me during my 45 years at the company is not just the colleagues I have dealt with on a daily basis, but the long-term friendships that will remain with me even when I finish here.”
Al Stafford, Manufacturing Manager, echoed the thoughts of many saying:
“After 45 years’ service to Baker Perkins, I would like to congratulate Nigel on his retirement and thank him personally and on behalf of the company for all his hard work and commitment over these years. It’s time for Nigel to relax and enjoy himself on a well-deserved 7 day weekend. Everyone at Baker Perkins wishes Nigel and his family health and happiness for the future.”