Johnsons employs around 100 full-time members of staff, rising to 150 seasonally, and runs a management training programme, with courses delivered both on-site and externally with industry experts. Workers have been offered the opportunity to forge careers with the company, with a growing number now occupying management roles after rising through the ranks.
Cooper started at Johnsons’ Cattal site as an agency worker and was taken on permanently after six months. Two years later, when he applied for the role of system support assistant, he moved into the IT department.
Graham Richardson, Group Managing Director at Johnsons, said: "People have always been at the heart of what we do and we already have a management traineeship programme in place that we hope will provide a vocational platform from which the business’s future leaders can emerge. In the case of Terry, however, it wasn’t until one of our staff mentioned that he was a secret computer genius that we realised there was so much more to his talents than working in the nursery. When a vacancy arose, we invited him to an interview, then a trial – and he has never looked back.
"Working alongside our IT manager, Darren Earle, Terry now offers vital support to our entire user database and has become an accomplished writer of reports in query language. He is currently helping to develop add-ons for our back office system.
"Not only is Terry adding significant support value, he brings an in-depth knowledge of growing and the operations of the business, which results in an inherent ability to relate to the issue/opportunity and rapidly deliver a solution.
"His career move is beneficial on both sides and his appointment sends out a message that we encourage personal development – and of course the business gains as a result."
Cooper said: "We early millennials were kids when the internet first became widely accessible and it was difficult not to be influenced by such a fascinating communications revolution. My new role is very different from plant production but is also very varied, covering providing user support, system testing, cyber securing and maintaining both hardware and software.
"I really welcome the opportunity to acquire knowledge, with an excellent mentor, of a constantly evolving progressive industry sector and seeing tangible benefits where improvements have been implemented."
IT manager Darren Earle said: "When the opportunity arose for Terry to move into IT on a permanent basis, I had little doubt he would be able to take on the role and learn additional skills. Terry continues to develop his skills and improve his knowledge – in fact, such are his capabilities, it is easy to forget he has only been in the role for 12 months."