Baker Labels was established as a family business in Kings Cross, London in 1973 by Roy and Marion Baker. Although we are now based in Brentwood, Essex we have history in London. For over twenty years our factory was located in Walthamstow, where many of our longest serving staff joined us.
Our diminutive Irish rewinder, Jo McCartney is one such member of staff, marking her 25th anniversary with us this November. For Jo, Baker Labels has been so much more than just a place of work. It’s family. Here we have put a spotlight on Jo and her life at Bakers.
Name: Jo McCartney
At Bakers since: November 1996
How it all began
The last factory was only a 5 minute walk from where I lived in Walthamstow. I knew they were a family business and went in and asked them for a job. Bakers wasn’t nearly as big then – with only about 40 staff. I started as the tea lady – taking everyone’s tea and lunch orders. We had tea at 11, 1 and 3pm. It was an easy job – I got to know everyone. When I wasn’t doing that I was helping out here and there with jobs and cleaning.
The first day I started I felt like part of a team. Paul (Sykes), Phil (Bartlett) and Noel (Finn) – I’ve known them for 25 years. We’ve grown together.
Baker Labels in Walthamstow in 1998. Jo McCartney, second row left.
Tell us about your role at Bakers
I’m a Rewinder / Finisher. All the jobs come to the rewinder and are cut down to whatever the customer wants. Put in the right quantities and number of texts that need to be on each reel. The rewinding department is very busy because all jobs have to be rewound. Quality Control check all jobs before they go out the door but we’re the last production department before labels are despatched to customers.
Forming a team in a department and having good communication between departments is a must. We help each other out and support each other. Pat taught me the rewinding back in the day. Her husband John was our maintenance man back then. We’re still in touch and I have lunch with them all every three months.
I’m not getting any younger and some days are really hard work. You could have a job with 50 different texts so you have to really concentrate. Every day you’re doing it and you get good at it. I’m a good worker – even if I may have slowed down a bit! But I’m here every day, on the train.
Some longer term staff alongside former staff John and Pat Dingwall at the launch of BakPac in February 2020
Why do you thinks Bakers is so successful?
Because they’re a good family. Very welcoming and look after their staff. They look after us and we look after the work. Roy and Marion were absolutely lovely. Roy looked after me well. It felt like family and they’ve really looked after me over the years. They’ve helped me out a lot. This job has given me stability, which for a single mother with two kids was so important. I’ve made loads of friends. When I started my kids were only little and now I’m a nanny to 4 grand kids!
Back in the Walthamstow days we had some laugh. We sang, made jokes on people. The work these days is a lot more serious and the standard is a lot higher. I look around and I’m so proud of how far the company has come. Steve has done brilliant. I’ve seen the company grow and grow and I’m so proud of Steve and what he’s done with the business.
Steve Baker with Jo McCartney marking 25 years with the company
What are the best parts of your working day?
A good strong cup of tea! No, seriously seeing a job finished. Nice and neat and the presentation looks great. Taking the red folder to Noel and saying “that’s another job done”.
I’m happy in rewinding, I’m good on it. It’s not enough for some people but it’s good for me and I’m good at it. I’m counted on.
What challenges do you have at work?
Sometimes it’s physical – I’m not getting any younger! I get on with it and I don’t complain. I like to get the job done. It’s very satisfying to finish a job and know it’s heading out to a customer.
When I was furloughed I was desperate to back in work as soon as I could. I was ripping my hair out! I needed a reason to get out of bed every day. I missed seeing everyone. I had a good rest but I missed work. But we got over it and we’re still here.
Jo with the Flexo and Rewind Team at Bakers
Thank you from the bottom of my heart to Steve, Marian and Roy for giving me that job 25 years ago. It was a challenge when the company moved to Brentwood. A lot of my older colleagues retired then so it was a big change but I chose to stay on and give it a go. I’m still here, making the train journey every day and I’m so glad I did.