A Hunger for Ports and Stevedoring

Working as Cargo Operations Supervisor for Port Nelson, Tim Loach loves his job. It’s evident through the passion with which he discusses the Ports and Stevedoring industry, emphasising both the people he works with and the variety each day brings.

“I just can’t speak highly enough about it. And it’s not just because I’m dealing with ships and I’m from Wolverhampton,” Tim jokes. “Each day can be so different, be it the weather, the people you work with, or the cargo to be unload — whatever! The dynamics change all the time which is great as it keeps you on your feet. And then there’s the people in the industry too — all very passionate and who share a common love for what they do.  I’ve never worked with a group like it before!”

A qualification is a great way to start out - that way you will discover your strengths and find out where your particular interests lie. 

Tim and his family emigrated to Nelson from the UK in 2002 and, after six years working in consultancy roles, a chance encounter with a friend of his wife’s steered him toward a career in stevedoring. “I didn’t have a consultancy contract at the time, and after being given an overview of what the Ports and Stevedoring industry entailed, thought I’d like to give it a try.” With a background in the food and produce industry in the UK, Tim’s work, which involved such things as cooking processes and operations in factories, meant his skillset was ideally suited for such a role.

Tim Loach

Tim Loach completed a National Certificate in Stevedoring and Ports Industry (Cargo Handling)

After two years working in a casual capacity for Port Nelson, Tim was offered his current position where he leads the team responsible for the loading and unloading of all container vessels. With particular focus on leadership, management and administration, it also includes all aspects of health and safety, disciplinary measures, and standard operating procedures. 

Three years into the role, Tim seized the opportunity to complete a National Certificate in Stevedoring and Ports Industry (Cargo Handling) (Level 3) through MITO. “Several of us wanted to get qualified together and, at the time, we all thought it couldn’t possibly teach us anything new about stevedoring that we didn’t already know. But in actual fact, it was a fantastic programme and having the ability to select aspects of the qualification that you wanted to do was ideal. Stevedoring is a very archaic industry — people have been loading and unloading ships in different ways for hundreds and hundreds of years. I think it’s wonderful that these guys, myself included, who all come from a range of socioeconomic backgrounds, can stand beside each other with a good qualification in their chosen industry.”

Somewhat known for its tendency to hire older workers, Tim says he can sense a shift in the industry. “I’m a big advocate for taking younger people on. There are a lot of opportunities available, particularly in terms of career pathways, and I think companies like Port Nelson are starting to recognise this potential which is really refreshing. We’ve had some great successes recently and I believe we’ve only just scratched the surface so it will be really neat to see how this develops.”

For those wanting to explore a career in the Ports and Stevedoring industry, Tim’s advice is simple. “You have to learn the industry. Begin with the basic roles, like the ship operation and the wharf operation and learn what each involves. You can then head towards the area you wish to specialise in. A qualification is a great way to start out - that way you will discover your strengths and find out where your particular interests lie. It really puts you in good stead for further progression.”

Moving forward, Tim hopes to further his own career through more leadership roles. Already a part of the Port Nelson leadership team, he’s also keen to develop IT solutions and software packages to support what he and his team will need to operate more efficiently in the future.

In the meantime, you’ll find him hard at work on the ports, or tied to the water — either on his boat fishing, or at the swimming pool as head coach of Nelson South Swimming Club — a role which saw him named as a finalist for Club Coach of the Year in 2013. It’s all in a day’s work for this affable Stevedore.

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