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Apprentices make a mark at print awards

From left: Printcraft managing director Peter Watson with employee Karl Pearson; Webstar’s Todd Nicholls with operations manager Trevor Howard. PHOTOS/TOM TAYLOR

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Masterton showed its true colours at this year’s Pride in Print Awards.

Newly qualified printing apprentices Todd Nicholls of Webstar and Karl Pearson of Printcraft received awards for excellence in their work.

Nicholls won the Heidelberg Offset Apprentice of the Year, while Pearson jointly won the GAPF Digital Apprentice of the Year with Travis Jordan of Auckland, who went on to win the overall Apprentice of the Year Award.

“I take my hat off to these two,” Printcraft managing director Peter Watson said. “They did really well this year, and to have two from Masterton is something special.”

Karl Pearson and Todd Nicholls are two of the winning apprentices in this year’s Pride in Print Awards.

However, the Masterton printers were unable to claim their trophies in person.

At the end of June, the shift to covid alert Level 2 prevented Nicholls and Pearson from attending the award ceremony in Auckland, a black-tie event with about 500 people in attendance.

Guest speakers included Hilary Barry and comedian Ben Hurley.

Webstar operations manager Trevor Howard had even written a speech on behalf of his employee, Nicholls.

Pearson opted to book out a room at Lonestar Masterton to stream the award ceremony and celebrate with his workmates.

“We already had suits,” Watson said.

Both Pearson and Nicholls completed a three-year printing apprenticeship with industry training partner Competenz. While working at Printcraft and Webstar, they would send off samples of their work for assessment.

“They can see if you’re just half-arsing it, just zapping it through to do the bare minimum, or whether you’re putting some effort into what you’re doing,” Howard said.

Judges selected five finalists across various printing categories, including packaging, screenprint, offset, and digital.

Nicholl’s specialty, offset printing, involved setting machines up for long runs.

He was responsible for maintaining colour, copy, alignment, fold, and trimming, and through his apprenticeship, he had learned how to problem-solve on the job.

“With offset, problems arise every day, and they’re always different. They could range from paper to ink to folding problems – anything.”

Digital print was based on computers.

“Digital is where I’ve always wanted to be,” Pearson said.

He had previously completed an offset apprenticeship straight out of school in England.

After moving to New Zealand and working for a time on the guillotine at Printcraft, he started his digital apprenticeship.

His second apprenticeship helped him understand design and colour theory before he moved on to produce booklets, brochures, signage, and business cards, among many other forms of printing.

“For Karl, every single day is different,” Watson said. “You never ever do the same thing two days in a row. That’s what we love about the job.”

Nicholls worked seven days of 12-hour shifts through the night on the press, from 6pm to 6am.

He would then take a whole week off work where he could spend time with his two young sons.

Pearson worked more regular hours throughout the week. However, he often found himself visiting work on his weekends to prepare for the week ahead or investigate new printing techniques.

“I’m into more automated ways of doing things, to speed your job up… I’m always on the lookout to see if there are ways of improving.”

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