As Woodlot Harvestings newest apprentice, Damon Zillwood is already becoming a hugely valuable member of his crew. Previously working as a diesel mechanic assistant, Woodlot Harvestings Managers were able to employ Damon via the FICA MSD Harvesting Subsidy and its already paying great dividends.
As a lover of the outdoors, working in forestry seemed like a natural fit for apprentice Damon Zillwood.
“I love hunting and the outdoors, so forestry is the ideal place for me to be,” says Damon.
“As well as doing QC, I have been under training operating Woodlot’s skidders, and I can’t wait to be a fulltime machine operator.”
“My goal is to complete my apprenticeship with Competenz which will allow me to obtain four national certificates over the next 2.5 years. I will gain National Certificates in QC, Basic Machine Operation, Ground Based Extraction and Fleet Sort and Stack.”
Brad Pyers, Director of Woodlot Harvesting says Damon has been a great addition to the team so far.
“Damon has an amazing personality coupled with a can-do attitude,” says Brad.
“As his rugby coach told me, ‘Damon doesn’t give up or give in easily’, and he has shown an ability to learn new skills quickly and has drive to succeed.”
“He has picked up QC responsibilities with ease and his skills as a former diesel mechanic assistant have been valuable in assisting the team to achieve their targets.”
Doing such a great job, Damon’s efforts were recently recognised when he was awarded employee of the month after 1.5 months on the job.
“Damon has been absolutely blowing us all away with his amazing attitude, his incredible work ethic and outstanding ability to achieve productivity,” says Woodlot Harvestings Health and Safety Manager Sharyn Macadam.
“Not only has he been on the skid, but he’s now also operating our 545 and 525c skidders in only 1.5mths which is amazing.”
Woodlot Harvesting has also been involved in taking on two other young employees from Toi Ohomai’s 22wk forestry course. New start Troy is coming on under the FICA MSD harvesting subsidy and another recruit from Toi Ohomai has just completed a full apprenticeship and is a contender for the TOTS forestry awards this year.
When asked what the FICA MSD subsidy has meant for the business, Brad says it has been a great business opportunity.
“It has alleviated some of the pressure of bringing new apprentices into our team. It assists the business with the costs involved in this process, monitors the process, offers extra support to the candidate and the business where needed, and offers goal setting incentives for our apprentices which they have been delighted about,” says Brad & Sharyn.
“There’s is a lot of cost, time and planning that goes into taking on apprentices in the harvesting industry…but we love to give people opportunities at Woodlot Harvesting and are a big believer in training for the future of the industry.”
“One of the biggest benefits of taking on young people is they are completely new to the industry which means we can teach them the right way from day one. Old habits are hard to break so when time and proper training is given to someone with a “clean slate” and the right attitude the benefits to the business are noticeable almost instantly, as in Damon’s case.”