Business, Community

Sawmill staff working wonders

Sawmill staff have been clocking up qualifications in a bid to move into new roles.

Kaituna Sawmill has seen many of its employees move through the ranks to take on new trades.

And now sawmill bosses hope to encourage others to join the 60-strong team.

Jamie Howieson says he heard about jobs at Kaituna Sawmill after talking to a friend’s brother at a party 16 years ago.

He started stacking timber, then became a forklift driver coordinator, before completing a three-and-a-half-year apprenticeship to become a saw doctor.

Despite his trade apprenticeship being quite specialised, he’s also had the opportunity to try out working in other areas of the sawmill.

“There are quite a few different jobs at the mill. You can move around,” he says.

Ryan Williamson qualified as a maintenance engineer six years ago, having done his apprenticeship at the sawmill.

“I started here just before I turned 17. I’ve been here coming up 11 years now.

Students from local high schools looking at their career options can experience working at Kaituna through the Gateway programme.

Processing around 115,000 tonnes of logs a year, the Marlborough sawmill has started many locals on the career path.

Ricky McKnight began his apprenticeship at the sawmill, and Kane Sullivan, Ryan Williamson, and Jamie all completed apprenticeships.

Kane is a maintenance engineer, who has stepped up to share a departmental manager role.

He says he started at the sawmill in 2011 on the production line, feeding timber into a machine to be wrapped.

He was on night shift and had moved from the food industry.

“It was a big change, but I adapted.

“My biggest regret was that I didn’t do some sort of apprenticeship when I was 20,” says Kane.

Kaituna Sawmill general manager Tracy Goss is encouraging people to get in touch and make the most of opportunities for trade training at the mill.

“If you or someone you know might be interested in a career at Kaituna Sawmill, the time to make an enquiry is right now. Get in touch with me and we can talk to you about where an apprenticeship can lead.”

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