Ask Trevelyan’s Pack & Cool, managing director, James Trevelyan about the one thing that’s most important to do in his job and his answer is disarmingly simple. “Just keep a smile on your face.”
Te Puke-based Trevelyan’s is New Zealand’s largest kiwifruit packing and storage company. The business which extends over a 20 hectare site has what can only be described as a dynamic yearly ﬂow of staff.
Any business that swells from a core of about 170 workers on site, to nearly 1800 at the peak of processing must have sorted out how best to look after the ‘team’, and that’s something James is very proud of.
“We are really a training school that happens to deal with fruit and we can only do what we do each year to bring in the annual harvest by having really strong buddy and mentoring systems in place,” James explains.
At any one time over the kiwifruit packing season, which runs from mid-March to mid-June, a wide range of different nationalities blend in together in groups under the watchful eye of experienced leaders processing upward of 15,000,000 trays of Class 1 kiwifruit, across green, gold and organic lines.
The plant also processes avocados from mid-October through January for export. At other ‘quieter’ times the cool stores are repacked and orchard maintenance work is carried out.
James says one of the great things about having a business that employs such a diverse range of workers from all parts of the world is that during their stay they become part of the regular Te Puke community.
“We have accommodation and a motor-camp on our site but the rest ﬁnd places to stay nearby and very much make Te Puke their home.”
Tevelyan’s Pack & Cool traces its beginnings back to the mid 1960’s when James’ parents John and Elizabeth Trevelyan bought 10 acres along No. 1 Road, Te Puke.
The families ﬁrst attempt at growing and packing kiwifruit ended in rejection by MAF due to scale, however this spurred even greater commitment to try again and establish in 1976 the ﬁrst packhouse, followed in 1983 with the ﬁrst cool storage space facility and eventually a cool-store plant.
“Back then Mum was fantastic with the workers who would come on site to help and that commitment to caring for everyone remains a core principle for us,” says James.
Today alongside kiwifruit the company packs and processes feijoas and limes and are involved in a partnership to mill and supply to growers local pollen of a very high quality for supplementary pollination.
The pack-house employs the latest high-end technologies that scan fruit content inside and automatically grade (or reject) fruit.
“Our latest is an optical grade camera making decisions as to whether the fruit is in or out and we’re always looking to improve,” says James.
When Business North spoke with James in May they had just had a consultant spend a week reviewing current practices in the pack-house, with the view to increase efﬁciencies and ensure that everyone is working at a solid standard rate.
“Making sure we have the right amount of work to process so that staff can be as efﬁcient as possible is a huge challenge at times.”
James said the consultant really put down the challenge for the company to come up with its own solutions, based on their reality, rather than simply write out a cheque for someone else to deliver a solution.
The company is currently investing in new, “more friendly” gas to power the massive chillers across their ﬁve export cool-stores.
For James, his daily ‘buzz’ is just being involved in an industry which has so much good news wrapped around it.
“Dealing in fruit is such a positive thing. Zespri has some heady plans and if we continue to hold our share or grow it, we could easily see our business evolve by upward of 25%. “When that happens, the site we’re currently on will be fully developed.”
And as for challenges, James says there are plenty ahead as a more sustainably focused consumer market – both in New Zealand and off-shore – starts to expect fruit delivered in top condition through sustainable practices.
This article was brought to you in association with the following businesses…
- Emac Electrical
- Jensen Steel Fabricators Ltd
- M.T Green Contracting