End of an Era
It is with a heavy heart that we say farewell to an absolute legend in Makers world. Anyone who has worked for or been associated with Makers will have come across or heard of Niki Baker.
Considered to be part of the furniture after almost 31 years, Niki has decided that a new challenge beckons, as she enters the world of banking joining Santander as a Relationship Manager, after successfully beating another 200 perspective candidates to the training post.
In what can only be described as an incredible journey, Niki has witnessed and experienced all the changes and upheavals a company experiences through restructuring and disposal each with their own affect.
Way back in 1990 Niki started as an office Junior working in what was then our Birmingham Office. Office… is a loose description as the semi-detached house was home to 7 staff. Considered to be a shy mother of one, Niki soon developed into a loyal and dedicated employee where she quickly adapted to the world of construction and became a valuable member of the Birmingham Team.
Having mastered the art of administration and taking over from the visiting Office Manager, the Birmingham office went from strength to strength doubling in size and moving to its new home in 1995 at the Shenstone Railway Station.
The continued success of the business saw Makers purchased by Keller PLC in 1996 which again provided additional support and more opportunities, resulting in the creation of Makers Car Park Division which operated at national level.
Fast forward 5 years and the move to the railway station in Shenstone, the team rapidly grows under the ownership of Kellers and with the addition of further staff, Alan Perry is now joined by Messers Bowman and Connelly and Niki’s skills are quickly recognised as she moves from administration to fulltime estimating support.
The Birmingham office inherits the mantle of the Western Region and our 5-year tenure at the station ends, with a move across the tracks into Building One at Shenstone Business Park.
During this time Niki gets married and has another baby, but marriage finds her extended family now consists of 5 children as well as having a full-time job.
The unfortunate death of Makers Managing Director Roy King in late 2001 and the appointment of Andrew Hammond as his replacement resulted in a restructure, that sees Niki head hunted into the Accounts function based at Rye Hill in Coventry, where she starts working in subcontractor accounts and takes a lead role in the management of this, working under the direction of Stuart Rooker who is later to become Finance Director of Makers Construction.
A further 2 Years pass which sees a consolidation of office coverage after a restructuring process and Makers Parking Division is reunited with Niki again, now being based at Rye Hill.
Kellers announce in 2007 the disposal of the Makers business, which sees multiple divisions and regions closed, contracts sold off and Divisions bought. The successful MBO of the Parking Division sees the business relocate back to Shenstone where Niki joins the new venture and is catapulted into the world of finance having full responsibility for the financial undertakings of the new business.
As with all new ventures the pressure is on, but Niki steers the business through troubled waters as the economy goes into financial meltdown but continues to develop the required systems to manage the company’s day to day financial affairs, unlike her attempt to drive a forklift simulator at Speedy Hire Regional Training Centre in Tamworth.
In 2010 with daughters at University she decides to take night school lessons after work and studies for her AAT Qualifications passing her exam with flying colours in 2013 and graduating in 2014 to become Makers Construction’s Finance Manager.
But Niki’s influence doesn’t end there. She is the iconic ‘turn around’ exercise junkie. A 5:00am run with the dog before work or workout in the gym is her passion and without reservation has cajoled the less able of us to do more exercise. Niki Introduced the “River Walk Club” at lunchtime encouraging other members of staff to briskly walk 1.5 miles during lunchtime and successfully persuading the team to enter into the Fradley 10K run with all the trepidation that brought.
Niki’s influence on the business will remain at both a company and personal level after her ability to bring her staff with her which has made her an exceptional manager, and her healthy eating and cooking options will no doubt continue.
“Niki and I go back a long way as we were both very young when we joined Makers. In that time, we have become very close and I have been amazed by her journey and what she has achieved in difficult circumstances… when she told me she needed a new challenge I was completely floored as she has been an incredibly hard working and dedicated member of our team and without her endeavour and passion we wouldn’t be as good as we are today, but it’s in her DNA and all we can do is wish her every success”.
Simon Lamb, MD
“Makers has been a huge part of my life and everyone here is part of my family, but I feel that I need a new challenge after 31 years. I will miss them all terribly, and I can’t understand where the time has gone but I am Makers through and through and I know I leave them with a heavy heart”
Niki Baker, Finance Manager
In an inevitably emotional farewell, Niki was presented with a “Living Orchid” garden which she promised to look after. Unfortunately, Covid has also played its part, so without the ability to provide the necessary farewell, a reunion is on the cards to say thank you and celebrate an amazing contribution by an incredible lady.
To you Niki… Bon voyage and Bon chance.