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How training became hot at Cold Storage Nelson

05/04/2018

Cold Storage Nelson (CSN) isn’t a household name and is unlikely to spring readily to mind for most Kiwis. However, CSN, with operations in Richmond, Christchurch and on the ports in Tauranga and Nelson, is one of the country’s three biggest cold storage distribution and logistics firms and the largest privately-owned company in its sector. Talk about a quiet achiever.


Customers include some of New Zealand's big names in food production and local growers. And its business managing customers’ products to be the best quality they can be for export, is vitally important to New Zealand’s economy.

Liz Davies is CFO and human resources manager at CSN. With years of experience working at a senior level for large global companies, she has a special interest in developing people’s skills to boost their job satisfaction and business success.

Eighteen months ago, CSN were thinking about how training might benefit the staff and ultimately the company itself.

“Our intention was to develop skills relevant for our workplace and at an appropriate level for our team,” says Liz.

“We wanted to recognise our team with a meaningful qualification, and to open their eyes to the bigger picture and the implications of what they do. They think they are driving a forklift, or picking, packing and storing products, but before training, they hadn’t quite made the connection between how what they do is related to our customers.”

CSN is a diverse and complex business. It handles vast quantities and a huge range of fresh and frozen products en route for other parts of New Zealand and global markets. From apples, kiwifruit, dairy, meat, poultry, eggs, fish, flower bulbs, artisan chocolate through to mussel extract for research, and more.

The talented and skilled team has a lot to be mindful of in this fast-moving operation.

In addition to knowing how to manage delicately each customer’s product end-to-end - from unloading, picking and packing, to chill store and dispatch - they also need to be extremely health and safety conscious. Not just about the risks associated with a non-stop distribution operation, but also the special precautions that must be taken to work in extreme cold temperatures, and working around fruit that releases potentially harmful carbon dioxide and nitrates as it matures.

Training got underway as a trial in 2017. A total of twelve keen staff representing each CSN site successfully completed the qualification within the year.

CSN chose ServiceIQ’s New Zealand Certificate in Distribution – Level 3 training programme for the fact it could be completed on the job and was flexible enough to fit around a busy and quick-changing work schedule.

“It went really well and exceeded our expectations,” says Liz. “We got plenty of support from ServiceIQ training advisor Robbie Mitchell, and the programme gave our team the opportunity to assimilate the messages we are discussing with the business around safety and quality, which is important for all businesses, not just ours.”

The staff are extremely proud to add another string to their bow in the form of a nationally recognised qualification.

CSN had special badges designed to mark their achievement which the team wear with pride on their high-vis gear.

“It’s an outward sign of achievement in our skill base,” says Liz.

She is particularly pleased with the way everyone went through the programme.

“Some staff have not done any study since they left school. But naturally, many of those people already have a considerable working skill set and some of them are already supervisors. Now, having completed the programme, they’ll be able to coach others through it.”

Team members are already asking Liz what training they can do next. To her, this is living proof that not only did they gain something valuable, they also enjoyed the experience.

A very cool result for New Zealand’s coolest privately-owned company.


Christchurch team
Richmont team
Tauranga team

From left to right: Christchurch team (Wesley, Dave, Gavin and Lisa), Richmond team (Lyndee, Matthew, Brendon and Travis) and Tauranga team (Carol, Leti, Josh and Stephen).