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New staff at Clandeboye excited about their future with the Co-op.

“Just awesome.” That’s how Steve Richmond describes his first few months at the Clandeboye site, where the construction of a new plant will make the site the largest producer of natural mozzarella in the Southern Hemisphere.

Steve is one of the 111 people who will be working on the site’s third mozzarella plant, which is due to start commissioning in May and making the extra stretch cheese that’s taking China by storm for commercial production, in September.

Steve and fellow new team member Pene Hammond have formed a close bond with their team members during their 12-week training and say they’ve just been blown away by the dedication and commitment of those training them.

Steve Richmond and Pene Hammond


“I’ve never seen commitment and dedication like it before,” says Steve.  “It’s like a big family, with everyone helping everyone else succeed,” adds Pene.

“There is great diversity in the team with ages ranging from 18 to over 50 so everyone has something to learn from each other, and we all make sure no one gets left behind,” she says.

The training programme Steve and Pene are taking part in is being run as a trial by the Co-op, and if the enthusiasm and experience of Steve and Pene are anything to go by, it’s sounding like a success.

The programme involves the team actively contributing to their training so they can make sure it meets their needs and sets them up ready to hit the ground running.

Process Manager Shane Gordon says it’s a testament to the team behind the training that the new staff have had such a positive experience in their first few months with the Co-op.

“Often starting a new job can be met with a bit of trepidation. But with this training they take real ownership of what they’re doing from day one and it’s been great to see how this has resulted in a really strong bond and team work.

“We’re looking forward to seeing this enthusiasm come through when they start working in the plant next week,” he says.

Pene says while it’s going to be sad for the team to be split up as they start working in different teams and on different shifts she’s excited about her future with Fonterra.