Aztec Label: a real family affair as owner’s son completes BPIF Apprenticeship

The son of the owner of Aztec Label has become the first employee at the business to successfully gain a professional qualification under the British Printing Industries Federation (BPIF) Apprenticeship scheme.

James Le Gresley, 19, has spent the last two years working to attain the Level 2 Award in Printing and Graphic Communications – Machine Printing. The BPIF training course takes in all aspects of managing print production, and although it runs over a 24-month period, it can be completed sooner dependent on the individual learner’s time away from press and their understanding of course content.

“We’re very proud that James not only successfully completed the course, but that he did it well within the two-year timeframe,” said Aztec Label Managing Director – and James’ dad – Colin Le Gresley. “James showed a keen interest in learning about the business from an early age and so this course was the perfect way for him to gain the professional qualifications and grounding that will help him in his future career.”

As well as the on-the-job training, James undertook all BPIF coursework and meetings on site to complete his apprenticeship at the Aztec Label facility. “We purposely put James through many different departments of the business, taking in everything from platemaking and press operating through to finishing,” said Colin. “Now that he has qualified, James has immediately taken up responsibility for running an eight-colour Nilpeter FB3 flexo press.”

James says he has thoroughly enjoyed his training across every area at the Kidderminster-based manufacturer of high-quality self-adhesive label and tags. “It was great learning about platemaking using high tech equipment like the Esko CDI and Dantex water wash plate maker,” said the newly qualified James. “I learned a lot about running all of our production and finishing equipment by being hands on in a real production environment, which will stand me in good stead for the future, whatever my role turns out to be.

“Although my current main role is as a shift-based flexo press operator, with my training and my BPIF qualification I can also step into any of the other roles when needed,” said James.

Colin said that while James’ training success was the first for an Aztec Label worker, it will most certainly not be the last. “James has a twin brother, Daniel, who also joined us earlier this year,” he said. “He has already begun his formal training in finishing and plain label production with us.”

And the family connections do not stop there, as Aztec Label is a true ‘family affair’. “My wife is a director of the company and my sister also works here, as did my own dad before he passed,” said Colin. “Our eldest son, Oliver, has worked within our art department and will happily stand in as cover when required. He is 21 and currently studying film and animation at university for his degree. He is using his skills to help us with filming videos for our website and with our social media and marketing.”

But family or not, Colin said there was no special treatment given in his pursuit of delivering excellence. “We take enormous pride in the reputation we have earned, using highly skilled workers and the best machines to fulfil our pledge of providing quality products for our customers and always on time,” he said. “That’s why we feel it is so important to ensure all our workers are as highly trained and skilled as possible, and James is just the first of what I hope will be many to complete the BPIF course.”

Steve Power, training co-ordinator with the BPIF, said he was not surprised with James’ success on the apprenticeship. “I spoke with James regularly throughout the course and would see him every six or eight weeks to discuss how he was finding his training,” he said. “Health and Safety and communication are foundations of the course and he clearly knew his stuff, always completing his written assignments to a good standard. He also did well in the three technical certificate exams to back up what he had been learning.

“He clearly knew the business very well,” said Steve. “An observation visit with a student usually takes 30-40 minutes, but James was so engaged and knowledgeable that we spent two hours talking about the work he was doing. It makes my job easier when they know as much as he does!”