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By Karen Phelps for Business South magazine, December 2020
Talley’s Wesport fish factory branch manager Nic Langridge has won a 2020 Seafood Star Young Achiever Award from industry body Seafood New Zealand. Now in its fifth year the Seafood Stars Awards are presented to those who showcase excellence in one of the following categories: Future Development Innovation, Longstanding Service and Young Achiever.
“I was really pleased about winning the award but I kept it pretty quiet around here,” says Nic with a smile. “I think it is good that someone from a small town working for a large company won the award.”
It was his focus on personal development and passion for the role that won Nic, who started at the company just over two years ago, the award. It’s also a success story for Talley’s, which has a focus on supporting staff to achieve their best and providing opportunities for career advancement.
Nic graduated Motueka High School at 16 and started his working life as a qualified builder before getting a job with Talley’s driving the local fish delivery truck, with the company supporting him to get his truck license. Seeing his potential quite early on, Talley’s offered Nic a management cadetship in the Motueka freight department to learn the ropes of logistics. He was then offered a cadetship for the whole company.
“I started with six months in domestic sales, learning everything about our New Zealand sales processes to fish and chip shops, and supermarkets across our food categories of fish, mussels, ice cream and vegetables. I then moved to Timaru during the hoki season and learned the running of the factory – all the ins and outs,” says Nic.
Then, at the age of just 23, he was offered the opportunity to become branch manager at Westport making Nic quite possibly the youngest branch manager the company has ever had.
The Westport factory processes about 5,000 tonnes of fresh fish a year. It has been around since the 1990s and is one of the biggest local employers in Westport. Over the last few years Talley’s has invested in the factory’s infrastructure and the aim is to continue to invest in it and Talley’s people, to support Talley’s growth in the region.
“Westport is a great town, with fantastic people. The factory is based right down at the port, it is the place to work in Westport.”
Nic says that no day is ever the same.
“People may look at the work as being repetitive but every day is different, depending on the fish species people are working with and other things that can happen out of the blue.”
He says that the emphasis is on high quality and it is to the benefit of the fishers to carefully manage their catch to ensure top dollar.
“Everyone is supportive of how the company is going and are playing a big part in the shift of direction to higher quality products - landing the best product for the public.”
When Nic came to Westport he didn't have any pre-conceived ideas and has become a keen advocate of the local area and aims to recruit people who want to live and work in Westport long-term.
“I want people to come to us and stay and build a career. The majority of our staff are local West Coasters, with a few relocating to the area. If they have not worked in fish processing before we support them with training. If quality people come to see us for work, we are always interested in meeting them.”