WHEN Mike Halliwell left school in Brighouse at the age of 15, jobs in his home town were not hard to find.
It was the early 1960s and large firms such as Blakeborough’s, Firth’s and Kosset Carpets provided employment for thousands of Brighouse people.
Mike was offered a job at Firth’s at Bailiff Bridge and joined a workforce of more than 1,000 people in the firm’s productive heyday.
Starting out in the general administration department, he worked his way up to the pricing department, helped to install the company’s first invoicing computer systems and stayed with the firm when Firth’s was acquired by US-based carpet tile manufacturer Interface.
Having given 50 years’ service to the company and still working part-time as customer services team leader, Mike, now 65, has reached a golden milestone - becoming Interface’s longest serving employee.
At a time when short contract working and job insecurity have become a fact of life, Mike’s outstanding employment record is becoming an increasing rarity.
Mike, who lives in Hove Edge, said: “When I think back to the ‘60s, when I started at the company, it’s amazing to see the changes that have happened.
“I was here when the first computers came in and seeing the offices now makes me proud of how we adapted and what we accomplished.
“I have seen lots of generations working here and have made close friends.”
Educated at the former St Martin’s School, Brighouse, Mike’s first job was in the post room and he was pleased to take home a weekly wage of £3 10s.
“It was my job to distribute and collect the mail from all the other departments so I got to know everyone,” said Mike.
“I was a bit nervous leaving school and going to work in this huge factory but my first couple of bosses were really helpful to me and I soon settled in.”
Looking after order processing and pricing, Mike had a vital role to play in making sure that the factory had the correct information to produce its carpets - no easy task before computers when everything was done manually.
“Carpets from Firths had an excellent reputation and went all over the world. I was proud to be part of that,” he said.
Mike met his wife Kath on a blind date - they will celebrate their 38th anniversary this year - and the couple have two daughters, Sian and Laura. In his spare time he enjoys photography, walking and supporting Huddersfield Town.
After working in a number of roles and supporting the installation of computers in the 1970s, Mike was well-placed to move to Interface’s European headquarters in Shelf in the late 1990s.
“It was sad to see Firth’s go and the old mills closing and then being pulled down. I have very happy memories of my years there and I’m always bumping into someone I know from that time,” said Mike.
Mike now works in customer services part-time three days a week and has no immediate plans to retire.
“I look forward to continuing to work here for as long as I can. I am not ready to completely give up work yet,” he said.
Mike’s contribution has been recognised by the company. Dave Bullock, customer service director, said: “Mike’s the sort of employee that every manager would like.
“He is hardworking, conscientious and always willing to go the extra mile for the customer. He is firmly part of the Interface family at Shelf and we are very grateful for all the years of service he had given us - and continues to give.”