29 May 2020
Tauranga’s Jenkins Freshpac Systems is a Kiwi packaging and print company owned by Jenkins Group, an organisation that prides itself on a 135-year history of innovation.
Production Manager Ross Craig has been with the company for 19 of those 135 years and has seen the company advance with the times in both training and technology.
Awarded the coveted ‘Trainer of the Year’ trophy at the 2019 Pride In Print Awards, Ross says he was “quite proud” to receive the award but it has a lot to do with the company he works for.
“Jenkins provides me with a lot of opportunity. I started as an apprentice myself, so through them I’ve managed to learn and gain a lot of experience, and to pass it on is valuable.
“On-the-job training gives our people a real sense of pride as well as giving them knowledge. Once you get them confident, productivity goes through the roof.”
He has enjoyed advancing three current Jenkins’ apprentices, as well as developing other exciting initiatives within the company.
“They’ve started training programmes for our bindery team and we are going to push those through.
“Jenkins is always looking to new technology and innovative ideas, and I want to be a part of that. In the next two or three years there are going to be some interesting concepts and groundwork and I’d like to be around to watch it, help with it and lead it.”
Competenz Training Advisor Grant Alsop describes Ross as a “very supportive” trainer.
“Ross allows the apprentice time for my visits with no pressure: he enjoys seeing the progress they are making and is very encouraging.
“He also arranges regular meetings with them individually to discuss what they are working on and plans specific tasks to assist with the training relating to these units. He goes through their workbooks and checks and signs off on their written and practical assignments.”
Ross says the biggest innovations he has seen in the printing industry, apart from better quality inks, have been speed, automation, quality control and more recently, health and safety alongside wellbeing.
“When I started, if you wore gloves you were looked at strangely, now my team wear respirators, glasses and gloves when they are cleaning with solvents, and we have large extraction fans on each press.”
“Right now though, the evolution is digital, it’s got to be quick, it’s got to be efficient.”
Speed and efficiency is something Ross and his team know well. During peak kiwifruit season, they run their label printing machines for up to 20 hours a day. This sees them producing a mind-boggling 1.1 billion labels a month at this time.
While Ross upholds the tradition of celebration for his graduating apprentices, he is very glad the method of celebration has changed since he became a printer.
“I came out of my time and I got dunked in ink, which wasn’t enjoyable,” he laughs. “Now we have a few beers so everyone can acknowledge the apprentice as they become fully qualified.