Label industry stalwart Edward (Ted) Harris, formerly of Labelnet, has passed away at the age of 89.
Born in 1929, Harris was associated with the label industry for more than 50 years. In a PrintWeek Q&A in 2011 he said he first got into printing in 1964 after seeing the industry advertised at the Labour Exchange. “I thought it sounded interesting,” he said.
Harris started his career in Dalston as a packer and van driver with a company specialising in the pre-printed tickets used widely at the time in cinemas, on buses and trams, and for car parks.
An associate company developed the new field of self-adhesive labels and during 1968 this company’s objective was to serve the rapidly expanding market for the self-adhesive materials used by printers and display producers.
Harris’ aptitude for hard work and his organisational abilities in planning complex delivery schedules meant that he was promoted within this company and put in charge of the dispatch department from 1971.
“I particularly remember him working on the decimalisation project with Tesco supermarkets in 1971. All labels had to carry prices with both imperial and decimal price points. The project was huge with over 2 billion price labels being supplied,” said Howard Southgate, who worked with Harris for more than 50 years, most prominently at Paperwork between the 1970s and 1990s.
“He drafted in a team of 30 workers to work 24/7 for many months before D Day, February 1971, in order to supply 900 Tesco stores throughout the UK. It was one of the biggest events in the company’s history and he ran the project brilliantly.
“When the project was completed, I promoted Ted to the position of sales manager of a division where he showed a real talent as a salesman. He combined a great sense of humour with a uniquely direct communication style to win over lots of customers for the business.”
He added: “Ted was the most loyal of employees and is an outstanding example to all young people today of how a person born just nine years before WWII, and with limited school opportunities and a disability [he had one leg shorter than the other due to a problem with his hip as a child, meaning he spent most of his formative years in hospital], succeeded in life and work by determined application, sheer stubbornness and adaptability. Ted was a great colleague and friend who will be sadly missed.”
Harris retired in 1999 but was persuaded out of retirement shortly after this, when Labelnet was established in Ongar, Essex, to work in a sales role at the new company. Here he successfully established many new customers for the business before finally retiring properly at the age of 81.
Harris is survived by his two sons and five grandchildren. A private family funeral will be held this Thursday (6 December).
Charitable donations are being accepted, instead of flowers, for The Brain Tumour Charity in memory of his wife Beryl.