Meet the team – Simon
Simon Williams-Fry started his timber journey at MLC Group in 2005 as an apprentice machinist and during his 15-year career, has chalked up a lot of experience timber processing.
Simon was born and bred in Riwaka then went on to attend Motueka High School and before starting at MLC had orchard and farm work experience.
Starting on the cross-cut line cutting timber to length, he progressed onto the finger-jointer in the production facility. Management recognised his diligence and offered him an apprenticeship as a timber machinist, an opportunity he embraced. Working as a timber machinist for a company that solely processes Radiata Pine has made Simon very conversant with product and processes.
Simon left for a stint in the mines in Mongolia and kept in touch with the factory manager at MLC, who offered him a leadership role when his time overseas came to an end. Simon arrived back to a team of 15 people in processing. This has now doubled, and his role now consists of training other leaders to not only run the factory but also to how to manage and encourage staff.
What Simon learnt from Mongolia
In 2014 Simon had finished his apprenticeship and personal circumstances prompted him to make a change. He signed up for an 8-month stint in Mongolia working in the gold mining industry.
“Gold mining was an eye-opener. It was hard, physical work with lots of heavy lifting. Real character-building stuff. I worked solidly for 8 months without a day off. It made me realise how much we take things for granted in New Zealand when you see the way people were treated over there. It was tough”.
Advice for someone entering the timber industry
Simon’s advice for anyone deciding on a career or looking at getting into the timber industry is “work hard at everything you do, the timber industry isn’t glamorous but the possibilities are endless. You will find that many people in management positions in the timber industry will be qualified machinists.
Working at MLC Group is a great way to enter the timber industry. If you get qualified as a timber machinist, it is a globally recognised qualification that you can take around New Zealand or the world”.
People that Simon feels would be a good fit for the job are those who have a great attitude, are enthusiastic, have a dash of intelligence, are trainable and willing to learn. Math skills are handy for this role because measurements and calculations are part of the job. A lot of the training is done in-house or at apprenticeship training block courses in Rotorua over 3-week stints with accommodation and food covered, a great way to network among other apprentices.
Simon has attended numerous leadership courses in his tenure that have been of benefit to him and the company. “MLC Group is a supportive company to work for. The company invests in its people”.