Seaman's life for Sealord chief

Last updated 00:56 19/09/2008
HELEN MURDOCH/The Press
BROAD PERSPECTIVE: Sealord chief executive Graham Stuart goes to great lengths to learn about the fishing trade from the bottom up.

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Sealord chief executive Graham Stuart is paid to land the big fish in the boardroom but he is also taking a hands-on approach to seafood on the trawler's factory floor.

Each year, the fishing company boss swaps his Nelson office for a Sealord trawler to learn the business from the ocean up.

Stuart, a former executive with Fonterra and Lion Nathan, said he wanted first-hand experience of the company's core business.

He first took to sea last year on a three-day voyage aboard the Otakou in Cook Strait, where he could gain his sea legs within sight of land.

"Emboldened by that, the second time I went out on the (trawler) Rehua this year, and it was atrocious weather," he said this week.

Stuart said after living, eating and working with the crews, he had developed immense respect for the close-knit floating communities.

"It's a big eye-opener as to how quickly they settle into a productive routine the whole dynamic comes together quickly with a lot of non-verbal communication.

"Some of our smartest people work on the boats, but when they come ashore they bugger off, so the only way to catch up with them is at sea.

"We have to get these vessel-based values back into the business," he said.

About 25 of Sealord's land-based staff have followed Stuart's example and volunteered for trips over the last hoki season.

Stuart is aware that Sealord sells a lot of fish caught by vessels outside the company's fleet and he knows the fishing story is a powerful marketing tool.

 

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- © Fairfax NZ News

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