LIKE the fibre that bonds the products, the connection between the people who have worked at the Whakatane Mill and the community has held strong for 80 years.
Some families have three generations who have worked at the mill, with sons, fathers and grandfathers proudly sharing the same slice of history. These families and all employees are connected not only through their employer SIG but also through their commitment to the mill and its on-going success.
The mill has always been a large employer in the region and a significant financial contributor to the region’s economy through wages and salaries and indirectly through suppliers, transportation and additional maintenance.
Today, 224 people are employed at the Whakatane Mill. Owners SIG are a global company with headquarters in Switzerland and operations in 60 countries employing more than 5000 people and producing 35 billion cartons – various packaging solutions.
Dedication is evident at the Whakatane Mill with many long-serving employees. This also proves how the company looks after its people, SIG Whakatane Mill human resources manager Lynsey Archipow says.
What this means is taking a holistic view and providing support to employees and collaborating with unions and families for better health and wellbeing outcomes, Lynsey adds.
Lynsey outlines the changing face of technology and new products at SIG Whakatane has meant ensuring a healthy balance between growing our own talent through training our people and bringing expertise into the business. The average age of employees is now 47, while more than a decade ago, it was closer to 58.
Having started with the company 13 years ago, initially as the receptionist, Lynsey is an example of the opportunities available to employees having completed her management degree and becoming the human resources manager 10 years ago.
Grateful for the opportunities, Lynsey says pulp and paper is a unique business and she’s seen first-hand many examples of the company investing in tradesmen to become machine managers and operators to train up to become shift managers.
“We are expecting a great future and the potential for more growth by doing the right things, particularly in the areas of safety, the environment, quality and timeliness.”
Lynsey says the mill culture encourages everyone to help out. “We don’t like to put a box around jobs and one of our managers likens it to all 224 of us being in a great big scrum and pushing in the same direction – if we all do a little bit extra, more gets done”.
Like other industrial sites, one of the biggest challenges is health and safety. Lynsey says there’s always more work to do and with a workforce that is so connected to each other and the community, ensuring everyone goes home safely is so important.