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PrintNZ 2019 Awards Presented

May 9, 2019)

Stuff Petone press operator Josh Crawford has been named the overall PrintNZ Apprentice of the Year with Jenkins Freshpac Systems production manager Ross Craig winning the Trainer of the Year and Ovato the Training Company of the Year.

Josh Crawford

Interviewed on Awards Evening on May 3, Mr Crawford expressed gratitude to his Stuff team and said he was “humbled”.

“When I first got the letter to say I had made the Top 10, I thought how cool it was but I never realised how big it would be,” he said.

“It feels pretty surreal, a little bit weird. It is also a relief now that it is over. I feel a weight has come off my shoulders.”

Having grown up in nearby Wainuiomata and now aged 33, Mr Crawford said he took a while to find his way into the apprenticeship.

“I had a few setbacks before I started at the Dominion, which became Stuff. I was in a job that I wanted to leave.

“My partner Helena’s uncle was a supervisor at the Dominion and I asked him if he could give me a job here. I was willing to do anything, I didn’t care what it was, I really enjoyed working in print. Eventually Ricky Baker hit me up to start the apprenticeship. I was stoked when he did that and I wanted to do the best I could.

“I now have the opportunity to complete a Diploma in Print Management. I want to go as far as I can, even though I like being one of the boys, I like the pressure at work.

“Sometimes I can be quite nit-picky with things, I do take pride in my work. If there is a mistake, I take it pretty hard, I want to produce high-quality print. As a tradesperson you never stop learning. Now the other guys at work are happy for me to go about learning the job and getting it done.”

Stuff Petone Print Centre production manager Hugh Taylor, whose firm also had two Apprentice of the Year Finalists last year, praised Mr Crawford for overcoming some major life changes and challenges in recent years.

“It hasn't always been easy for Josh, like most people there have been family issues to deal with – he has become a father twice – while completing his apprenticeship and has been able to balance the demands of work and family,” says Mr Taylor.

“All this while managing to remain an extremely likeable guy who genuinely gets on with pretty much everyone. I have had the pleasure of watching him grow not only from a print perspective but also as a family man whilst completing his apprenticeship.”

Stuff shift supervisor Hersha Werakoon added that Mr Crawford “has the ability to do go on from here and do anything he wants to do – he is pretty much the experienced printer now”.

Commented Competenz trainer Malcolm Pearce: “From the beginning Joshua was impatient to succeed. I found his attitude refreshing.”

Ross Craig

Mr Craig, who has now amassed 19 years in the industry with Jenkins, said he was “quite proud” to have been named Trainer of the Year.

“It is a lot to do with the company – Jenkins provides me with a lot of opportunity,” he said.

“I started as an apprentice myself, so through them I’ve managed to learn a lot and gain a lot of experience, and to pass it on is valuable I feel.”

He is looking forward to advancing three current Jenkins apprentices as well as developing other exciting initiatives within the company.

“They are starting training programmes now for our bindery team and we are going to push those through. We have a couple of stars that we want to see outside of the direct general manufacturing papers – communications and admin.

“Jenkins is always looking to new technology and innovative ideas, and I want to be a part of that. I think in the next two or three years there is going to be some interesting concepts and interesting groundwork from Jenkins and I’d like to still be around there to watch it, help with it and lead it.”

Competenz trainer Grant Alsop described Mr Craig as a “very supportive” trainer.

“He allows the apprentice time for my visits with no time pressure,” said Mr Alsop.

“He enjoys seeing the progress that they each are making and is very encouraging.

“He arranges regular meetings with them individually to discuss what units they are working on and plans specific tasks to assist with their training relating to these units, he goes through their workbooks and he checks and signs off on their written and observation assignments.”


“Ecstatic” was the term Ovato operations manager Craig Harrison used to describe his company being named Training Company of the Year.

“That is something we’ve been aiming for, for a long time,” he said.

“The stuff we do for the industry is incredible – we get these guys in our factory and we let them loose on our machines.”

Ovato managing director Simon Ellis said the award was “great recognition”.

“We also do a lot of other training outside the apprentice training as well,” he said.

“So at the moment we’ve been running advanced courses for a lot of the blue collar workers where English is a second language, so we’ve added that to our training programme and we’ve got really good results from it. It is all about the people.

“As the workforce ages, we need to be in a position to fill the gaps created by experienced operators leaving the industry. Having a full training programme in place, along with opportunities to continually develop further, also means the retention of key staff is more likely over a longer period of time – our turnover rate of staff in these areas is very low.”

Mr Harrison also expressed pride in Ovato this year winning the Pride In Print Innovation Award for a second time.

“We’ve had that two years ago. It is something we strive for – we look to be innovative, talk to our customers about what they need, what we can do for them and how they can benefit in their promotional activities, and we work with them.

“Gold Medals are what we do day in, day out and we can do that – but when you win the exclusive ones, I love it.”

Added Mr Ellis: “Again, we’re not taking any shortcuts in the process even though the market is tight and the industry is under pressure – we’re using top-quality resources, processes every time for all of our customers. At the end of the day, we’re trying to put out a top-quality job every time.”


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