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  • Alan wraps up his career at Roberts Mart after 48 years

    Print supervisor Alan Wintersgill is retiring after 48 years of unbroken service at leading Leeds flexible packaging manufacturers Roberts Mart.

    When Alan first joined the company in October 1970, Edward Heath was Prime Minster, the Three Day Week was looming, the Beatles had just broken up and the Vietnam War was still raging.

    He was a 16-year-old apprentice, straight from Leeds Modern School in Lawnswood. Pay was £5 a week, rising to £7 after three months.

    “I didn’t know what to expect back then. Certainly, I didn’t expect to spend my whole career at Roberts Mart. But I’m glad I did – I couldn’t think of a nicer, more friendly company than Roberts Mart, a company that has always looked after its employees.

    “Of course the company has changed massively over the 48 years I’ve been here, due to new technology, but the way staff have been treated has not. When I first arrived, we did a lot of packaging by hand and there was no polythene. Now, thanks to heavy investment in state-of-the-art printing presses, everything is very mechanised.

    “We moved premises, too, from the old factory in East Street, to our brand-new premises in Thornes Farm Way, but the family atmosphere remained. Family is an appropriate word, as I met my wife Jill here and my son Lee works here too.”

    He explained: “Whoever you are, whatever your role, people matter at Roberts Mart and that does make for a dedicated workforce who will rally round when the going gets tough. I should know, having survived four recessions.”

    Alan’s son Lee is employed at Roberts Mart as a printer.

    John Roberts, chairman of Roberts Mart, who presented Alan with an engraved clock, praised him, saying:I shall always be grateful for Alan’s commitment and loyalty to our firm, his contribution to our growth over the years’ has proved immeasurable. He has successfully worked in most of our production departments and as a result his knowledge gained has proved to be his strength. I shall miss his friendship and experience.”

    Alan, who lives in Cookridge, plans to spend his well-earned retirement relaxing with his family and watching Leeds Rhinos and Yorkshire County Cricket Club.

    The Wintersgills are one of seven families that currently have more than one employee at the firm, ranging from production managers to the office cleaner, with some of them having been with Roberts Mart for several decades.

    Other long-term staff include Printer Gary Foster, who has been with the firm for 40 years and whose son Lee joined in 1997, whilst there are two members of Warehouse Manager Andy McGoldrick’s family at the company, his wife Gillian and son Callum.

    Roberts Mart was founded in 1852 and puts the secret of its success down to family, not just because it’s a family-run business, but the company’s ability to attract several generations of employees’ families to the workforce as well.

    Roberts Mart chairman John Roberts, who handed over the day-to-day running of the firm to his two sons William and Ben in 2009 after 45 years in control, believes the number of different family members employed by the company does bring advantages.

    He said: “It has not been a conscious thing to employ different family members over the years but we do seem to have been a bit of a magnet in attracting sons, daughters and wives. Perhaps they are more motivated to prove themselves and are very focused on our cause.”