Meet the team – Benje
This is Benje. He has been a part of the MLC team for 5 years now. The first thing you notice about Benje is his constant smile. His positive attitude is part of the reason is he a team leader at MLC progressing from factory labourer to qualified timber machinist, completing his 4-year apprenticeship by early 2021.
His qualification gives Benje opportunities around the world; “Wherever they process timber there is a demand for machinists”.
Working in New Zealand
When Benje was 17, he emigrated to New Zealand with his mother and her Kiwi husband. They first lived in a township of under 250 people on the West Coast- a huge culture shock for someone from the Philippines where the population is closer to 100 million.
He started working as a labourer and truck driver for his stepdad’s contracting business, later relocating to Motueka where he did a stint in horticulture before landing a job at MLC Group. “I liked the fact that at MLC Group I could have weekends off, I couldn’t do that so much in a horticultural job”.
He realised that life was so much better in New Zealand and decided to apply for residency. “Plus, there are no snakes in this country, the crime rate is lower than the Philippines. I feel very safe here – Kiwis are quite friendly”. If he had not moved to New Zealand Benje would not have discovered his favourite kiwi food. He said, “I might have never found fish and chips!”.
Why Benje enjoys working at MLC
Benje enjoys seeing timber going into planers as rough-sawn boards and emerging as complex moulding profiles. While working on the planers he was drawn to the finer aspects of machining. He became involved in the setting up of the planer, helping with the scheduling of profiles and took an interest in the toolroom where the knives used in the machines were prepared.
His career aspirations are simple, he likes to become as good as he can be in a role to ensure he is ready for the next step. “I have been in my apprenticeship for over 3 years now and there is always so much to learn. I want to become more efficient and productive.”
Benje likes being asked for input in company projects “We are investing in planning software and I was pleased when I was asked to put ideas into the project”
Benje has embraced a career in timber machining. For him, an apprenticeship was a natural progression, not only as a machinist but it led to leading a team, training staff and passing on skills he has acquired. “I like the positive vibe here with the newcomers, making them feel part of the team”.