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Beyond the Bale : Dec - Jan 08
By Kellie Penfold If quality accreditation was good enough for global car manufacturer Toyota, then it was good enough for New Zealand's Paewai Mullins Shearing Ltd. Ten years ago Mavis Mullins was looking for the next step up for the fourth-generation shearing contracting business she runs with her daughter Aria and husband Koro at Dannevirke on New Zealand's North Island, when she heard of how the New Zealand branch of Toyota manufacturing had achieved ISO 9000 status and the value gained as a result. It created a goal that Mavis says turned them from an inward to an outward-looking company: "We saw how we were part of the big picture." The ISO 9000 family of standards represents an international consensus on good quality management practices, regardless of what an organisation does, its size or whether it is in the private or public sector. By focusing on customer ser vice and looking after its employees -- a consequence of implementing ISO 9000 -- Paewai Mullins has been able to lift its market share in a period when the New Zealand sheep flock has decreased from 70 million to 40 million. The Mullins see synergies between the Australian and New Zealand shearing industries, particularly when it comes to human resources and training, and regularly share ideas with AWI staff. "If the wool industry in Australia is going well, it is doing well in New Zealand," Mavis says. "We are increasingly relying on each other for staff and innovations, and it is far better working together." With a permanent staff of 40, but up to 120 employees in the peak shearing period from December to March, the company services more than 150 clients and handles in excess of two million sheep a year. By taking the bigger picture view, two sideline businesses developed -- a shearing equipment retail outlet and Kokamo Ltd, a wool industry training company. The new businesses dovetailed perfectly into the main business. The Mullins took the view that if a shearer or woolhandler was well equipped they would do a much better job and with a better attitude. "You can make one hell of a mess with substandard equipment. Now our employees have no excuse and the quality of the job is hopefully much better for the client." Kokamo came about after finding that existing wool- har vest training was not the complete answer to helping staff with particular problems. "It was all quite well to come back with a certificate to say you can shear, but we had shearers with particular areas they needed help with. The only way to do that was tailored, one-on-one training." Running the Kokamo business in partnership with human resources specialist Audrey Tamanui-Nunn, training programs were designed for individual clients, which included other shearing contractors, and often involved in- shed training, induction schools for beginners and providing training in all facets of business administration. Teaching in the work environment was found to be most effective, saving staff having to travel and losing time from the job. Kokamo believes education has to be relevant to the environment in which the student is working : "If you invest in the skills of your staff, the payback is immeasurable." Today these training needs and demands from the A model for shearing contractor business development: a New Zealand experience 10 WOOL HARVESTING BEYOND THE BALE Two members of AWI's shearing and wool-handling mentoring team -- Shannon Warnest and Debbie Chandler -- achieved success at the 2007 National Shearer and Wool Handler Championships in Warrnambool, gaining a place in the Australian team for the world titles in Norway in 2008. Shannon, from SA, brought the crowd to its feet when he shore 18 sheep in 19.48 minutes, just two blows (0.5 seconds) in front of Beau Guelfi from WA.When the quality of the shearing was assessed, Jason Wingfield, from Victoria, who will also travel to Norway, was named second and Beau third. Debbie, from WA (see profile on the back page of this issue) narrowly beat Tasmania's Mel Morris, with both making the Australian team bound for the world titles in Norway. Representing Australia in blade shearing at the world titles will be David Neuman and John Dalla, both from SA.The Australian team judges in Norway are Peter Atridge (shearing) Shearing guns bound for Norway and Craig Rowsell (wool handling). Warrnambool was also the site for the Trans Tasman Test Match where each team had to shear and handle the wool from seven Merino wethers and seven Coopworth ewe hoggets.The Australians won the shearing, while the New Zealanders took out the wool handling. In the Australian National Teams Championship, South Australia came first, Queensland second, NSW third and WA fourth. AWI wool harvesting program manager Joe Sullivan congratulated Sport Shear on a successful National Championship. "It was great to see the professionalism of the industry and the passion that people bring to it," Mr Sullivan says. "AWI has formed a partnership with Sport Shear Australia to establish a secretariat that will work towards getting shearing and wool-handling sports recognised nationally." industry are more known and Tectra (the main provider of industry/government-funded wool har vesting training in New Zealand) is filling the training gap. d wool classer and wool-handling trainer, nducts programs specific to the needs of Paewai Mullins staff, and many employees are qualified trainers. Prior to the peak shearing period, induction raining is held for staff from overseas o introduce them to local culture nd customs and give them a support amework for their time in New Zealand. "Often it is their first time away from me and if they do get into a bit of strife want them to feel there is somewhere can turn," she says. The Mullins do not kid themselves that ng in the sheds is viewed as a long-term path by most of their employees. Instead they focus on induction training for young people, particularly students who are likely to come back every summer while at university. "If you are fresh out of school it is a great industry in which to get your head together and your pockets full before you move on to something else." Other initiatives include a pre-employment program created in conjunction with physiotherapist Storm Baynes focusing on physical fitness, massage therapy for staff once a week and gym equipment in the staff accommodation to encourage fitness and rehabilitation. As part of taking in the bigger picture, Mavis now spends much of her time in governance roles and is a director of Wools of Aotearoa, New Zealand Landcare Trust, Landcorp Farming New Zealand and Massey University. In 2006 she managed the New Zealand team that competed in the Golden Shears world shearing championships, in Toowoomba, ueensland. "I'm a big believer in the value of competition shearing and wool handling. You put staff in a dingy woolshed and even the good money isn't enough to keep them going : competitions provide another challenge, another motivation. "Good shed staff are those with the right attitude and a competitive streak. They understand learning doesn't start and end at school, it's a lifelong journey." ú More information: www.shearingnz.co.nz The action at the National Shearer and Wool Handler Championships in Warrnambool. Global view lifts shearing business to new level
Oct 07 - Nov 07
Feb - Mar 08 Supplement