Gareth Hilton, from Rapid Labels in Auckland, took out the New Zealand print industry’s ultimate training award at the Pride In Print Awards held at Auckland’s Langham Hotel on Friday night.
One of five top apprentices who had undergone interviews for the award a few days before the announcement, Hilton said, “I feel extremely proud and honoured to be the Apprentice of the Year. To win Apprentice of the Year is an amazing personal and professional achievement. It is a fantastic way of recognising the hard work and effort it took, and the best way to repay my managers, work mates, friends and family who supported and encouraged me all the way through.”
The company he works for, Rapid Labels, won four gold medals at the Pride In Print Awards, one of which Hilton printed. He added, ““I would like to thank the PrintNZ Training team and my work. They have all been very supportive, especially Alex Straight who has been like a rock for me. He always had time to help. I would also like to thank my wife and all of my family and friends.”
Starting his print industry career as a storeman, Hilton took up the offer of a role as printer’s assistant. Alex Straight, production manager at Rapid Labels, said, “I always had Gareth earmarked for more than this but it was a matter of time until the next uptake of apprenticeships could begin. As soon as this happened, Gareth jumped at the opportunity to become a qualified tradesman. Gareth’s dedication to his practical work and his one hundred per cent outstanding pass rate in his correspondence is something I am extremely proud of and I doubt that I will ever see again. He has continually pushed himself to succeed since day one.”
Anne-Marie Sutton, general manager of Rapid Labels, said, “We are very excited and very proud of Gareth. Gareth is very hard working and enthusiastic. He is certainly the type of employee we should be holding up as an example within the print industry. As a responsible employer it has to be a good thing to help people gain industry qualifications that equip them with skills for the rest of their life. Formal training can only be good for us.”
Icon digital printing papers, supplied by BJ Ball Papers, took over sponsorship of the award this year. Richard Hislop, Icon spokesperson, said, “We are very proud to be associated with the Apprentice Awards. We firmly believe in the development and encouragement of learning and have a proud culture of doing this with our own young people. Congratulations to Gareth Hilton and to all of the finalists. Gareth demonstrated excellent technical ability, presented his work, and interviewed, exceptionally well. He understood the industry and challenges, and above all, had a vision for the industry and his future.”
Joan Grace, chief executive of PrintNZ Training, said, “We look forward to watching Gareth and the other award finalists’ progress in the industry. Their employers and the industry should be extremely proud.”
Hilton added, “I enjoy the effects of putting ink on paper and seeing images come to life. My goal is to gain a management position. I am next in line for the Print Management course. Ultimately I would like to own printing company.”
The other finalists were Nicky Hambrook of Sycamore Print in Invercargill, Derek Woodgate of Admark Visual Imaging in Hamilton, Geoff Stanaway of McCollams in Auckland and James Zuo of red-i (CCL Communications Group) in Auckland. Each finalist received an award and prize at the Apprentice Awards/PrintNZ Conference Dinner.