Working with technology always appealed to Scott Frater, and he’s found an exciting technology career in the New Zealand apple and pear industry.
The export packhouse manager for Compass Fruit works with packhouse technology every day and loves the variety of his work.
As manager of the packhouse crew, Scott ensures everything is running smoothly, and that they’re packing the very best apples for customers around the world.
“It’s not a job where I can afford to sit down and watch the clock. I start in the morning and when I get to finishing time I think ‘where did that day go?’ There’s a lot to deal with but for me I know postharvest is such an important part of the process so we’ve got to do the best job possible."
Leaving school, Scott didn’t have a clear idea of what he wanted to do. He knew he wasn’t suited for university, so he started working at Compass in 2004 stacking cartons of fruit for export. There, he discovered an interest in horticulture and started thinking about careers in the industry.
After returning from his OE, Scott started progressing through the ranks at Compass. He was soon promoted to head stacker and put in charge of a team of eight, and then was made responsible for all the machinery in the packhouse.
Next, he moved up to become night shift manager for a crew of about 70 people, before being offered the export packhouse manager role.
“It was quite a large jump for me initially to move up to the export manager role, but it appealed as I need a lot of variability in my job. It was a big challenge, but a rewarding challenge.”
Working in pipfruit means Scott can combine his interests in horticulture, travel and technology.
“We’re dealing with fruit that’s going all over the world, and for me that creates a lot of opportunities to head overseas, such as visiting packhouses in the United States to see how they process their fruit, and travelling to Tonga to recruit new staff.”
He says travelling overseas makes him appreciate the New Zealand industry.
“New Zealand is a world leader for postharvest technology. We’re developing machinery which is sought after internationally, such as near infrared scanners that can detect brown spots and blemishes inside the apples before they reach the customers.”
Compass Fruit is investing in robotic packers, which allow the packing process to happen faster and smarter.
“The industry is going to keep becoming more and more focused on technology and things are developing rapidly so it’s exciting to be part of that.”
Check out the careers pathway for pipfruit industry workers.Download careers pathway (PDF 940KB)