13 years on, each day spent at Premier Nutrition presents an exciting new challenge for our customer service manager, Trish Hodgetts. We find out about her role and how she along with a few others held the fort and kept essential operations running in the Rugeley office throughout the Covid-19 pandemic.

Q. How did you get into your role?

A. My route into this role certainly wasn’t conventional and I consider myself very lucky to have joined a company where I’ve found such a good balance of feeling comfortable but being challenged at the same time.

After leaving school I originally joined the police force but gave that line of work up to have a family. Once my children were old enough, I started part-time work but could never find anything that really engaged the brain.

In 2007 I came across a customer service assistant role at Premier which suited me to a tee, so much so that I progressed to supervisor and I’m now the manager, 13 years on.

Q. What do you do on a typical day?

A. To start every day I have a morning meeting with Chris Rackham, our general manager, and a representative from the production, quality, technical and maintenance teams. We discuss how the previous day has gone in terms of production, including tonnage and orders, so that we know exactly what products we have and what needs to go out to customers that day.

The remainder of the day generally consists of following up actions from the meeting and speaking to customers, dealing with any queries, problem solving and even receiving the odd thank you, which is a really lovely part of the job.

I’ve already started preparing for Christmas, sending out information to
customers, as we have to set order cut-off dates to allow staff to have
time off over the festive period. And we’ve got Brexit on the close horizon, so there’s a lot of admin and preparation ahead of that to ensure imported and exported goods can still cross our borders.

Q. What have you had to do differently in light of Covid-19?

A. I, along with two others have remained in the office to support our production team throughout the whole pandemic, while the rest of the office staff have worked from home. As Premier Nutrition produces premix for animal feed, we had to keep manufacturing in order to continue to help keep livestock fed and, in turn, feed the nation.

It was extremely busy early on, as there was so much uncertainty and many customers were understandably stocking up.

My role also sees me take on much of the office management responsibility, so I put in place Covid safety procedures, sent out staff welfare packages and organised for an office move-around to ensure when staff do come back, it’s in line with regulations.

One good thing that has come out of such a challenging situation is that we’ve worked out a system to reduce the amount of paperwork required in the office. We’re now filing everything on a new server that can be accessed remotely, which dramatically saves on costs, time and helps the environment.

Q. What would you say is your biggest achievement during your time at Premier?

A. I couldn’t pin it down to one particular thing or moment. But I’m delighted to be  part of such a great team that works hard and support each other, it’s a real pleasure. Especially when starting out in my career, agriculture was still a very male dominated world, so I’m extremely proud to have got to where I am today.

Trish Hodgetts