Em­ploy­ees grow with busi­ness

Manjimup-Bridgetown Times - - Front Page -

Tari Jef­fers

FOUR ded­i­cated em­ploy­ees at Ben­dotti Ex­porters have watched their place of em­ploy­ment ex­pand as the re­gion ex­pe­ri­enced growth in the agri­cul­ture and hor­ti­cul­ture in­dus­tries over the past 15 years.

With a to­tal of 55 years ex­pe­ri­ence be­tween the em­ploy­ees, their tenures range from 10 to 15 years with the com­pany.

Julie Clarke, Kay Manalis and Leanne El­lis have been at Ben­dotti Ex­porters since it opened its doors in 2002, while Michael Fa­gan has been there for 10 years.

Ben­dotti Ex­porters sup­plies, pre­pares and ex­ports potato seeds, raw potato prod­ucts, cooked, chilled pas­teurised potatoes and frozen french fries.

When the busi­ness first started at its Franklin Street lo­ca­tion in Man­jimup, there were up to 12 em­ploy­ees, which has grown to 19 as the busi­ness ex­panded.

Julie, as ad­min­is­tra­tion man­ager, wit­nessed the growth of the busi­ness first-hand and her own skills and re­spon­si­bil­i­ties grew as a re­sult.

“It was on a lot smaller scale when I started, I was the only one in the of­fice,” she said.

“I saw the change in di­rec­tion, back then there was a mind­set of be­ing “just spud farm­ers” but we’ve gone be­yond that into the busi­ness we have to­day.

Julie said one of the newer as­pects of her role was learn­ing more about the fi­nan­cial side of the busi­ness.

“I en­joy the chal­lenges and hav­ing scope to grow and learn,” she said.

– Leanne El­lis

“I’ve fin­ished a book­keep­ing diploma and I want to step up more to help.”

One thing that has not changed over the years, ac­cord­ing to Julie, is the peo­ple she works with and meet­ing so many of the re­gion’s potato grow­ers.

The three other long-serv­ing em­ploy­ees can be found hard at work in the fac­tory, do­ing ev­ery­thing from grad­ing and sort­ing potatoes to op­er­at­ing machin­ery.

Kay, as the fac­tory su­per­vi­sor, has been op­er­at­ing out of the same spot dur­ing her 15-year ten­ure and jok­ingly re­ferred to her­self as “part of the fur­ni­ture”.

“Tech­nol­ogy has cer­tainly im­proved in those 15 years,” she said.

As a place that made work of sea­sonal em­ploy­ment, Kay said she met peo­ple from all walks of life and from around the world.

“There’s six of us in the fac­tory that run the show and we can have up to 12 peo­ple max dur­ing the busy sea­son,” she said.

“I love my staff and the Ben­dotti fam­ily are won­der­ful – I think I’ll be here for quite some time.”

Leanne has worked in the fac­tory along­side Kay since day one as a lab tech­ni­cian and su­per­vi­sor and if Kay is away, Leanne takes over.

Leanne said one of her favourite parts of the job was the va­ri­ety of her work.

“I move around all the time, I don’t think I could han­dle stand­ing still,” she said.

The up­graded bag­ging ma­chine the fac­tory also re­ceived had also helped “100 per cent” more, she added.

“As long as there’s a job here, I’m here,” Leanne said.

Ben­dotti Ex­porters gen­eral man­ager Paul Kerry said it was im­por­tant to know that what Leanne and Kay did in their jobs was in­cred­i­bly dif­fi­cult.

“They have a very high skill set and not many peo­ple in Aus­tralia could do what they do,” he said.

For Michael, it was the team at the busi­ness that made the job so spe­cial.

“If you don’t get on with peo­ple at work, it makes the work harder — we don’t have that is­sue here,” he said.

As a grader, Michael’s job is sort­ing potatoes and sort­ing out the rub­bish.

And af­ter 10 to 15 years at the same work place, all four of the long-serv­ing em­ploy­ees still say they en­joy potatoes, even if they only have them at work.

As long as there’s a job here, I’m here

Picture: Tari Jef­fers

Julie Clarke, Michael Fa­gan, Kay Manalis and Leanne El­lis have put in a com­bined 55 years of work at Ben­dotti Ex­porters.

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