Oceania Dairy – Culture of community drives success

“We’ve worked really hard with local secondary schools in our recruiting drives to bring in talented people straight from school.”

General Manager, Logan Hanifin

A culture of community involvement and giving back at every available opportunity are qualities that Oceania Dairy prides itself on.

Located near Glenavy, on the border of South Canterbury and North Otago, Oceania Dairy is a hi-tech sophisticated operation producing various forms of milk powder, including speciality formulas such as infant formula, and UHT milk.

Oceania’s community involvement starts with its very location and the employment of talented staff.

Commissioned in 2014, the plant currently employs 400 permanent staff with a large recruitment pool from Timaru, Oamaru and Waimate.

To cope with the ebbs and flows of work, up to 40 temporary staff can be employed on any given day.

“We’ve worked really hard with local secondary schools in our recruiting drives to bring in talented people straight from school,” says General Manager Logan Hanifin. “We give them the opportunity to come into a modern hi-tech plant-like Oceania and understand that what we do is very technical with many opportunities that can blossom from working here. Automated programmes, managed through computers by our skilled operators, run all of Oceania’s processes, and the team operates some of the most complex equipment that has been built in all parts of the world. So it’s a fantastic opportunity.”

While Oceania is in the dairy industry, the company trains talented people in a diverse range of sectors including electricity, engineering, information technology, automation engineering, accountancy, business analysis, health & safety, shipping and logistics and procurement.

“We’re training 400 plus people in some pretty rewarding and transferable skills. We also run scholarship programmes.

“Every year we award a scholarship to a high school student, mainly from the local area, who is heading off to University. We give them some funding for their studies and provide an opportunity for paid work during their breaks in any area they choose. If there’s an Ag. Science or a Finance student we can tailor their work experience to what they are looking for.

“That has been hugely successful. Two of our scholarship students have decided to stay with us and done very well after graduating.”

Processing some of the best quality milk in the district into some of the highest value dairy products for customers in China and other parts of the world, Oceania works closely with the 78 farmer suppliers that provide the raw milk on a daily basis. And of course the plant is supported by a myriad of local contractors, businesses, trades, agencies, and transport and logistics companies.

A sponsorship budget also enables Oceania to support many local sports teams, not for profit events and environmental causes such as a salmon hatchery.

“We always make our staff aware of local community events that call for volunteers and we know our staff often volunteer.

“Recently we’ve made quite a significant contribution to the CPlay Playground in Timaru, which will be like the Margaret Mahy Playground in Christchurch.

“We were proud to give back to the community in that way and help Timaru become a destination area. It is becoming such a vibrant place for tourism and we want to support that as much as we can.”

Logan says helping the community with things like CPlay provides the opportunity to develop the region so that if staff are brought in from other areas, the region is even more desirable to move to. “We want to stay as connected as we can to the local schools and events that are going on to make the region a fantastic place to relocate to.”

© Waterford Press Ltd 2022

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