Elliot Winstanley admits he was lost after he finished high school. He hadn't made plans to go to university and was sitting at home doing a lot of computer gaming "as a lot of teenagers do."
"My parents were getting a little concerned and my old man said, 'You seriously need to get your A into G, get moving and get a job'."
That conversation spurred him into applying for a job in the bakery at Pak'nSave Silverdale; Winstanley shifted from baking to butchery and says he hasn't looked back over the four years he's been there.
He has now almost completed his apprenticeship, is about to become a qualified butcher and is well on the way to working in his dream job: becoming part of the management team.
On the job at 5am every day, Elliot enjoys being part of a close and very busy team: "The butchery department suits me because I like the early starts and there's always something to do. You keep really active, whether it's boning out beef, making sausages, doing the normal cutting list or going over to help the packers."
Hard work and enthusiasm has meant Elliot has worked up the ranks in four years and is now second in charge of the butchery team.
"There's a massive emphasis on teamwork not just in the butchery but in the store in general. A lot of people look down at supermarket work and they shouldn't – because there are plenty of opportunities to work in a store or within the wider FMCG industry. There's a real future and career in our work and it suits me just fine.
"When I got promoted, I received a lot of coaching in terms of management of staff, such as performance reviews, staffing, communication, and I have been sent on quite a few leadership courses.
"I feel I'm on the up. I really enjoy the management side of things. The end goal is that's where I want to be. I'm very fortunate, very lucky."
Elliot is one of three butchery apprentices at Pak'nSave Silverdale and his boss, James McCarthy, says these apprenticeships are a part of Pak'nSave's commitment to creating meaningful work.
McCarthy is in charge of 24 butchery staff. He says his satisfaction comes from the craft of creating high quality food people enjoy eating. He's been in the food industry for 38 years, having previously worked as an independent butcher and attended cooking school.
"It's really satisfying creating something," he says. "We make our own small goods at the butchery and I really enjoy the creative part of the job."
He says the quality customers get from shopping at Pak'nSave is another aspect of the job he enjoys, with New Zealand's meat is second to none.
"The vast majority of our meat at Pak'nSave is from New Zealand. I take pride in this; personally, I'm not into buying overseas meat and why would I? I like supporting local farmers and the meat on offer is much superior."
Pak'nSave shoppers win on all fronts as they enjoy the benefit of quality cuts as well as fresh meat at lower prices, he says.
"We get product delivered every day, we cut it and send it straight out to the customer. Because we have such a large stock turnover, we buy in bulk, meaning we save costs and can pass these cost savings onto customers so they are always getting a good deal.
Because our turnover is so high, what you see on shelf is fresh; our staff are constantly re-filling shelves with arrived-that-day quality meat.
"We always have the lowest prices in town, any day of the week, but especially at Christmas when you're eating more and feeding an extended family."
He estimates the store sells a couple of hundred tonnes of meat per week: "We are a big store with massive volumes. We can have chicken breasts on special and can sell 12 pallets per week. They're huge quantities – and our customers are always the ones benefiting from it."
Like everything, food has its trends. Turducken (a chicken inside a duck, inside a turkey) has become more popular over the years and the butchery is currently flat out filling these orders for Christmas.
"Hams aren't as popular as they used to be. People are doing a lot more rolled lamb and pork. They want anything you can cook on a barbecue or rotisserie. They also love anything new to spice up the table, like turduckens."
McCarthy says if people aren't quite sure how to cook their meat or want to try something new, the butchery team is really happy to come out and give them tips.
"I know how important the customer is, and they absolutely should come and have a chat to us for bringing their Christmas table to life because we can help them with quality, taste and affordability."
Visit paknsave.co.nz for Christmas butchery inspiration