Will we see their like again?

Jo Francis
Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Jo Francis lauds our longest-serving printers.

I was seriously chuffed to find not one, but two printers who’d been in their line of work for longer than the Queen.

Admittedly, neither has been doing exactly the same job for more than 63 years, but that really would be pushing the bounds of credibility. Her Majesty’s just-the-one-job career history must surely be limited to Kings, Queens and Dalai Lamas.

It was a stroke of good fortune that I’d been talking to Hastings Printing Company managing director Alison Knoll about the firm’s centenary a few months back, which was when her father, the long-serving Derek Knoll came to my attention.

And a chance conversation with Doug Nelson at NB Colour Print ages ago alerted me to the fact that his eighty-something dad Roland was still a regular in the factory.

It made me think, will we see their like again? Somehow I doubt it. There’s something about that Second World War generation, they have tremendous fortitude and stickability.

My dear departed dad worked for 47 years at the same firm (Rolls-Royce Aero Engines, since you ask) having started at 14. His tasks included repairing Merlin engines for Lancaster Bombers. I have the feeling that if he’d worked at Francis Aero Engines he would have had to have been carried out of there in a wide chord fan blade box, rather than take early retirement.

Who believes in a similar job for life these days? Not many, if any people, surely. Not least because lots of companies simply don’t stay the course – one just has to think of the venerable print names that have hit the buffers.

Quite simply, people are much more likely to make multiple career and company moves nowadays.

Just as in the Queen’s circumstances, it is the uniqueness of the family firm that provides the opportunity for these long-serving landmarks.

So the Dereks and Rolands of our industry should be treasured. They really have seen it all.  And I don’t think we’ll see their like again.

 

 

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