MTP 2021 Trainee Program group

Mercer Timber Products introduces new trainees

Since the sawmill’s acquisition by Mercer in 2017, the number of apprentices at Mercer Timber Products (MTP) has steadily increased. However, it is not just securing skilled trainees that give the sawmill its success, but also the implementation of the Trainee Program. The program is aimed at graduates of technical colleges, vocational academies, and universities. During their training, the trainees pass through various departments and are involved in day-to-day business and smaller projects. The opportunity to interact with each department is intended to make clear the wide range of activities within MTP. Personal potential can be identified, strengths and interests can be optimally utilized, and other areas can be developed in a targeted manner. 

Back in 2019, Mercer Timber Products launched its first Trainee Program to recruit young talent. A total of three trainees entered the 24-month program at that time. During the departmental run-through, their strengths and interests were identified. All trainees were subsequently taken on by MTP.

Due to its success, we decided to once again start the Trainee Program in 2021. For the program, Mercer Timber Products was able to recruit a total of four trainees with very different educational backgrounds.

Sascha Hoffmann

I studied forestry at the Technical University of Dresden in Tharandt. I successfully completed this area of study with the degree of Graduate Forester (Diplom-Forstwirt).

The Mercer Group is a broad-based company and is one of the largest employers in the district of Saale-Orla. Since wood and its byproducts will be an important focus for the future, I applied to Mercer Timber Products in Friesau. Here, I was offered the opportunity to join the Trainee Program. The plan is that I will pass through all departments connected with production, starting with the log yard, through the sawmill, drying, planing mill, maintenance, as well as planning and administration.

At the moment I work in the log yard and drive the equipment on the so-called “towers”. When the log trucks are dispatched, their logs are unloaded. On the towers, the plant operators separate these logs, reduce them if necessary, and evaluate them according to quality. The debarked logs are then placed on large wood pallets according to quality and dimension and are thus available to the sawmill.

All of the operations in the log yard – starting from the log arrival, the highlifters, the feeding, the assessment and the excavators – require a conscientious and concentrated approach from all employees in order to achieve a good production result.

It is an interesting and challenging job and I am already looking forward to the other departments so that I can deepen my theoretical knowledge from my studies.

Felix Schultz

Felix Schultz, MTP trainee, stands in the log yard 2022

After graduating from high school, I completed an apprenticeship as a tool mechanic and, in 2020, decided to continue my education to become a master craftsman in metalworking, which I successfully completed in the summer of 2021. In addition to deepening my operational knowledge, this also enabled me to acquire work-pedagogical skills.

After completing my master craftsman training, I chose Mercer Timber Products as my future employer. In addition to the regional location, I was impressed by the opportunities for advancement and development on a professional and personal level through the Trainee Program. Furthermore, I was interested in the further processing of wood as a raw material in the sawmill and timber industry.

The Trainee Program offers a lot in terms of variety. By getting to know the different areas of the company, I was able to gain insight into the interrelationships of the company structure as well as the work processes. At the various stations, some of which were unfamiliar areas of work for me, I acquired new knowledge and was able to expand my skills. In summary, I like the Trainee Program because I am not only challenged but also supported on various levels. This was the case, for example, during my assignment in planing mill 2, where I was able to use my learned skills as a shift supervisor and deputy department manager.

I particularly enjoy working together with different colleagues. There is respectful interaction and a pleasant working atmosphere in which there is always the opportunity to ask questions and I am always given new tasks in which I can demonstrate a sense of responsibility and organizational skills.

Elena Neumeister

Elena Neumeister, MTP trainee, stands in the log yard 2022

I have been completing the Trainee Program in administration at Mercer Timber Products since October 2021. I have a Bachelor’s degree in English/American studies and intercultural business communication from Friedrich Schiller University in Jena. During my studies there, I completed an internship at MTP in the area of law, energy and environment, which was very appealing to me. Shortly after that, I was hired as a working student, so after graduation the Trainee Program was the next step for me.

Even when choosing an internship, it was important to me to work in a large international company. Due to the proximity to my hometown, Mercer came to my attention. The company also embodies sustainability, which is very important to me personally. 

During the Trainee Program, I’m going through several departments, mainly in administration. The main focus so far has been on the HR department, where I have already spent a few months. The aim is to get to know the day-to-day business and to take on my own tasks and projects. For example, I am leading the Continuous Improvement Process (CIP) project on Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion at the site, with the main goal of increasing the proportion of women at our plant. This topic is very important to me personally and I really enjoy working on it. In general, my responsibilities are incredibly diverse and varied, which is what makes this program so appealing. 

I’m looking forward to getting to know the other departments as I progress.

Christian Lenk

Christian Lenk, MTP trainee, stands in the log yard 2022

I joined Mercer Timber Products in December 2021 as a trainee at the Friesau site. When I graduated from high school in the summer of 2014, I attended an English language school in Vancouver for four months, which later strengthened my interest in Mercer as a company with Canadian operations. 

When I began my studies as an industrial engineer with a focus on production at the Ernst Abbe University of Applied Sciences in Jena, I was able to deepen my economic and technical interests in the industry. In fact, I completed my Bachelor’s degree with a thesis on the definition and visualization of quality indicators under selected lean aspects. This was followed by my Master’s degree, which I completed with my thesis on the conceptual design of a digital plant management system. 

The goal of the Trainee Program at Mercer is to familiarize myself with technical as well as business processes and to evaluate them from a neutral point of view. In the process, I have so far passed through the departments of occupational safety, log yard, and planner mill I. In my current assignment in the technical projects, I am supervising the dismantling of the A3 sorting and bundling line. In the next phase of the program, I will support the work preparation department in the implementation of SiPal for controlling the logistics of sawn timber packages in the plant based on RFID technology.