TOMORROW will mark the end of an era in Horsham.
James Schwarz, the owner and manager of the Oven Door Bakery, will officially step down from his role, ceasing an association between the Schwarz family name and Wimmera bread making that has spanned more than 60 years.
In what has been an historic journey, Mr Schwarz will hand the keys of his prominent business to James Henwood.
"This certainly is the end of an era," Mr Schwarz said.
"And in one way it will be very sad for me to say goodbye, but I am confident that James will make a fantastic go of the business."
Mr Schwarz started baking at the age of 19 in 1960 with his father Harold Schwarz who then owned a bakery which was supplied by a factory in Mill Street, called Schwarz Bread Factory.
"My father suffered a heart attack so I came home from college to help work in the bakery then. He was the second largest employer in town at that stage, he had 60 staff," Mr Schwarz said.
Although he had never intended to continue on his father's career path, Mr Schwarz admits he developed a dedicated approach to what began as a baker's apprenticeship.
"It took me a few years, but I realised that if I was going to do this I would have to enjoy it and make a go of it," he said.
And that is exactly what he did.
"It is a very creative job. I have learnt to really love being here and to love making good quality products," he said.
Renowned across the region for its delicious food and rich history, the Oven Door Bakery has twice won the Most Successful Victorian Bakery award at the Horsham Bread Show.
But it is not the accolades that Mr Schwarz is most proud of.
"I love it when people come into the shop, and to see their eyes literally light up at the sight of what we have here," he said.
"We have always tried to provide a total experience with quality products and a friendly, family atmosphere."
Mr Schwarz attributes the good fortune of the Oven Door to his father who began his career as a 14-year-old apprentice in 1941.
"My father started an amazing business. He was such a generous and loving man and that has filtered through to the bakery."
Looking back on the 47 years he has been in the industry, Mr Schwarz smiles.
"I worked from 4am in the morning for 30 years, which broke into my social life a lot. But I have a wonderful wife and three gorgeous daughters, who have always been supportive."
James Henwood, who has worked at the Oven Door since 1999, is set to take over the reins of a family business that has stood the test of time, and is hoping to maintain the reputation the bakery has established.
Mr Schwarz: "I am pleased and honoured that James wants to continue the Oven Door tradition. I guess it proves that we did a lot of things right over the years."
Although he will no longer manage the bakery, Mr Schwarz will continue to work at the Oven Door two days a week as a cake decorator.
"This is the beginning of a new chapter in my life. I have completed a very fulfilled chapter and will now go on to discover new and exciting things," he said.