Marley NZ: Fostering the next generations of leading lights

July 5, 2024

An unwavering commitment to upskilling its people has earned pioneering plastics manufacturer Marley NZ the 2023 Plastics Training Company of the Year award.

Presented at the recent Plastics NZ annual conference, this accolade shines the spotlight on those blazing a trail in the training space, and iconic Kiwi brand Marley is out in front. Not only did they win the Plastics Training Company of the Year award, but their process technician, Aisea Havea, also achieved runner-up in Plastics Apprentice of the Year, further cementing Marley’s place as a company that invests in its people.

Marley’s Production Manager – Moulding and Support, Peter Sutcliffe, is a driving force behind this mahi, and he says supporting staff to fulfil their potential is a cornerstone of the company’s success.

“The business is very committed to growing people’s skill sets; we seeit as a win-win,” says Peter.

“The business wins because we have guys who are highly skilled at what they do and are good on the shop floor, and the employee wins because they enjoy the training, earn more as they learn more, and have a clear path to career progression.”

There’s a powerful ripple effect.

“Supporting staff to grow within the business also positively impacts their families, which makes me so passionate about this. I started at Marley in 1999, and I wouldn’t still be here 25 years later if I didn’t think we were changing lives.”

The company values ‘we care, we dare, we deliver’ underscores this sense of purpose.

“The care side is just as much about the people on site as it is about our customers. We care about our team and always want to support their growth.”

Employees who are keen to progress usually start with their New Zealand Certificate in Manufacturing (Level 2), which Peter states “is a good introduction to those who haven’t done adult learning before, and a good platform to see if they have the ability to step into the more intense trades training side of things”.

“When people start with us, they can see the growth opportunities. From day one, they can see where they can progress, not just with their skills but also their pay. Some of our guys have become process engineers, and others have gone on to become team leaders – they haven’t stopped at their trade training.”

Achievements and milestones are celebrated within teams and business-wide, helping create an environment where staff feel valued and supported.

“Our people stay a long time - one of our guys has just retired after 52years! I manage a team of 37; within my department, 16 people have been here longer than me. It’s a great company to work for, and our emphasis on investing in our staff absolutely plays a part in that.

“We have several APTs (Advanced Process Technicians) who have either completed or are well into their apprenticeships, and they do the training of our new guys; plus, we also have a couple of onsite assessors who assess against the unit standards. Then, Competenz comes in each quarter to give our apprentices one-on-one time, which has a massive impact. That advice and mentoring from someone outside of Marley is very powerful – it’s a bit like when your parents tell you something, you say ‘yeah, yeah, yeah’, but when someone from outside tells you the same thing, you sit up and listen! I can’t speak more highly ofthe people we’ve had from Competenz.”

There is no denying they know their stuff. Competenz Training Advisor Luke van den Bos was once a Plastics Apprentice of the Year himself. He hascome full circle, supporting apprentices and training companies to thrive within the plastics sector.

“I have a great passion for plastics”. Says Luke “I believe it’s a great industry to be involved in and offers a wide variety of skills to learn. I left school at an early age, yet I was still able to achieve a great career in this sector. I wanted to move into the training space to give back to the industry and hopefully help learners achieve similar goals themselves.”

Marley’s Aisea Havea is one learner who is clearly on the fast track tosuccess. While he was “honoured” to be chosen as runner-up in the 2023 Plastics Apprentice of the Year, it’s the learning, not the recognition, that drives him forward.

“It feels great to have completed my apprenticeship, but I’m not stopping there,” says Aisea. “I want to keep growing and expanding my knowledge.”

And just like Luke, the chance to inspire and support those coming upthe ranks behind him adds further reward to his remit.

“Now I’m training some young boys here, passing on myknowledge to the next generation. That’s one of the great things about working at Marley. They are supportive and always encourage us to keep learning and growing. It’s good for our lives, and it’s good for our families.”