Personal attributes count high among employment criteria for a leading Bay of Plenty kiwifruit and avocado management and post-harvest company.
“We employ people based on attitudes, and whether they will live our six core values and ‘fit’ within our business, rather than skills. We can teach skill,” says Derek Masters, CEO of DMS.
Valuing, encouraging and fostering personal growth among staff at all levels is a priority for both Derek and DMS which aims to be “the employer of choice” for its staff and those seeking employment.
As the father of four ‘millennials’, Hannah, Sarah, Steven and Rachael, Derek understands that this generation has different attitudes to employment than its predecessors.
“They want to work hard but many also want the flexibility to pursue other interests, often including potential commercial interests. So long as there’s no conflict of interest for DMS or our growers, we are happy to support them in those endeavours, including allowing some flexibility in work start and finish times.”
Staff are rewarded and acknowledged for good work that exceeds expectations and encouraged to take on personal development challenges to help them be a better person and more valuable to DMS.
DMS operates across three sites; the post-harvest facilities at Te Puna and Te Puke and the town office in Tauranga, plus has a large orchard management team out in the field.
“It would be easy to operate in silos but we make sure that doesn’t happen by switching/exchanging staff between sites, holding social events including sports challenges, and regular full staff meetings. Communication between all our sites is paramount so everyone is on the same page in terms of meeting our company goals.”
Health and safety is, of course, a priority but DMS takes that further by also focusing on staff well-being. “DMS is a silver accredited wellness provider by the Public Health Service Workwell programme. This can include simple things such as helping staff give up smoking, or with general health with the help of a nutritionist, to major investments in staff medical schemes.
“I’m pleased to say that our staff retention is excellent. We seldom lose people. As we are well-recognised from our own internal staff engagement surveys we are just great company to work for. In other words, an employer of choice.
“We have many staff who have been with the company well over 10 years. This is important for our business as I think that stability has enabled us to perform at the level that we do because everyone knows their job very well, they know what’s expected of them, and they know the level that DMS plays at.”
Creating career pathways for junior staff is also very important. DMS recently promoted two younger accounting staff instead of taking on new recruits. Other examples include the very successful orchard cadetship programmme, which leads to full orchard manager status with orchard management responsibilities.
“These are just two examples, but we have many career opportunities within DMS as we grow and expand. We always look internally first before we recruit externally as I particularly enjoy seeing our staff taking up new challenges within the business.
“New technology is rapidly infiltrating our business, like most other post-harvest companies. There are significant advances in the use of robotics in post-harvest facilities and orcharding and this presents an exciting future for anyone looking to enter the kiwifruit industry.
“I know technology is important, but I would rather have the best people than the best machinery any day as it’s our people that enable us to live up to our brand promise of ‘increasing grower profit’.”
On a personal note, Derek acknowledges the support of the two DMS owner-directors Paul Jones and Craig Greenlees.
“Both are good examples of ‘walking the talk’ in terms of staff support and encouragement. This has been very helpful for me over the years and enabled me to introduce core values and build a culture that enables the DMS team members to perform at the level they do.”