Business Central December 2021

46 | Wellington Gold Awards: Taylor Preston REGIONAL DEVELOPMENT Taylor Preston a cut above the rest T Richard Loader Photo: Brett Stanley Taylor Preston employs 750 people in peak season, all from the Wellington region. WWW.SNELL.CO.NZ SNELL IS A PROUD SUPPLIER TO TAYLOR PRESTON Taylor Preston’s local trade supply partner Supplying export quality meat to the local market since 1989 Suppliers to butchers, supermarkets, manufacturers & distributors One stop shop for all your meat requirements 04 472 5662 A finalist in this year’s Wellington Gold Awards, meat processor Taylor Preston is about to celebrate its 30th anniversary. Quietly nestled in Wellington’s Ngauranga Gorge the company has traditionally flown under the radar, yet employs 750 people in peak season — all drawn from the Wellington region — and contributes a very significant 2% to Wellington’s GDP. An economic analysis commissioned from BERL a few years ago showed that for every job at Taylor Preston, there were four down- stream support jobs in the Wellington region, along with a similar number of upstream jobs from the farming community including truck drivers. A first time entrant in Wellington’s pre- mier business awards, with the challenges of attracting seasonal workers that is typical of the industry, Taylor Preston decided entry in the Gold Awards presented an opportunity to raise its community profile. “We’re an export plant and don’t advertise our products within the New Zealand market, which means our profile has been traditionally low,” says CEO Simon Gatenby. “Qualifying for the awards and making the Finals provided us with some coverage and something we can point to. We have a full range of professions and skills in the business and we’re about to commence peak season and our employment drive.” Taylor Preston is owned by Hawke’s Bay Meat Company Ltd as majority shareholder, along with the Preston family — who have been local butchers and wholesalers in Wel- lington for 100 years— and the Grace family — a large scale farming family in the Rangitikei district. Drawing from Wairarapa, Manawatu, Rangitkei and Hawke’s Bay in the North and North Canterbury/Nelson/Marlborough and the top half of the West Coast in the South, Taylor Preston processes sheep, beef and goat meats. “There are slightly different stock types in each area,” says Simon. “If the East Coast is undergoing a drought we have the ability to draw stock from other areas. So from a stock catchment point of view our eggs are not in one basket. We have a very loyal group of sup- pliers who we can count on all the time. We have another group that we get their livestock most of the time and there is a final group that like to play the market.” The company processes about 650,000 lambs a year, 400,000 mutton, 75,000 head of cattle and 25,000 goats. Of the sheep meat product, in the order of 96/97% is exported and while a larger proportion of the beef stays in the local market 87/88% is exported. Of the goat 99% is exported. “New Zealand produces very high quality meat and we’re very lucky from a marketing point of view that we have a product that people want. For us it’s a matter of selecting who we sell to as opposed to trying to find a market. We export to between 40 - 50 markets every year but our main markets are France, Malaysia, USA, UK, Japan, Switzerland, the Middle East and China.” Keeping pace with technological develop- ments has been a key focus over the last 30 years. A rendering plant enables all animal by-products including meat & bone meal and tallow to be processed and there is a new top of the line Marel beef boning and recording system. A very large capital project is in its closing stages that will provide cutting edge technol- ogy in terms of blast freezing and sortation. While Covid has caused some delays, the new and very welcome technology will be commis- sioned in October. Taylor Preston’s base staff numbers sit around 500 and at peak swell to 700 – 750, all drawn from the Wellington region. A good number of staff covering all aspects of the business have been with the company for the full duration, something that Taylor Preston is very proud of. “The level of skills here in some of the jobs is significant,” says Simon — who has also been with Taylor Preston the full 30 years. “As some of our older team members decide to retire, and you set about teaching the younger ones to do some of the more technical skills, you appreciate the value of all that experience. We’ve embraced the Gov- ernment’s push for apprenticeships and you can now run an apprenticeship scheme for Export Slaughter Butchers and Export Boning Butchers. That’s an external qualification and a great way of transferring technical skills to the newer generations.” Commencing this year Taylor Preston has 8 – 10 apprentices going through the scheme. Over the last decade the company has also been a loyal supporter of the Return to Work programme with the Corrections Department, which allows qualifying prisoners to work in the plant then return to their corrections facility in the evening. The company also par- ticipates in the Limited Service Volunteer pro- gramme which is run by the NZDF for youth. “We’re an employer of manual labour but there is an opportunity to upskill when people are working here. We offer a full range from simple packing to being a very skilled A Grade butcher. There are also engineering trades, food technologists, along with IT, accountants and shipping professionals —we have a full range of professions to run a business of our size and scale. It’s a pretty diverse workforce.”