Last Friday Kaitoke School Year 7 and 8 students took the day to tour some Whanganui businesses.
The tour included Wight Aluminium, GDM Retail, Loaders and an Okoia dairy farm. Of course there was also time for morning tea and a bit of lunch.
Midweek met up with the school at GDM.
"Last year I applied for a grant for our school to give our Year 7 and 8 students an experience with some different industries for careers. We have been working with Hannah from Whanganui and Partners and Jason from 100% Sweet," says Kaitoke School principal Vanessa Duncan.
GDM directors Sandra and Michael Eden and production manager Steve Boult showed them around the huge complex in Gilberd St.
GDM manufactures store fixtures and retail display units. Michael Eden explained the basics.
"We make them out of metal and wood and a good combination of both. The business we're in is manufacturing: first we have to talk to the customers and find out what they want, they tell us, we design them, engineer them to make sure they work, then we make them. Those products we make, the things you see here, all go into retail shops."
Michael explained how the shop fittings are used primarily to allow the best visual display of a shop's product to increase sales.
He told how Mitre 10 Mega in Whanganui wanted a system to display their taps to their best advantage. GDM designed and built a display system to the customer's satisfaction.
The tour took in every aspect of the manufacturing business, from the factory floor to the design department, where students saw 3D graphics being used to create new products.
An item of particular appeal was Jeffrey the robot welder. A lot of the factory is automated.
Steve Boult says quite a few schools had been through the factory.
"It's for the kids who don't want to go to uni. Here we have five or six guys doing apprenticeships, so it's a good opportunity for the kids. For some, school doesn't work for them but they're really good workers here."
The factory employs about 30 people. "It's like a big family. I've been here 18 years. I love the diversity of it and it's the culture of the place I love the most."
Kaitoke School principal Vanessa Duncan says this day was just to give the students an idea of what's out there.
"So when they go to secondary school they can start choosing subjects according to what might interest them and what they might perceive as the future for them."