A joinery rockstar

On 9 June, we were privileged to be invited to celebrate the life of a great man - Myles Sellers.

We first met Myles and his wife Margarette in 2016 at their business in Nelson, The Sellers Room. It was clear from the outset that Myles’ ethos came from a place of truth. He desired to reframe Joinery’s reputation and build a skilled sector of great people starting in no better place than his hometown of 54 years.

We recognised Myles’s values and fierce appetite for industry success. His empathy and crusade for vocational training, diversity & equity, and apprenticeships. So in 2017, Myles was offered and accepted a seat at the Joinery National Advisory Group (NAG) table. This group advises us on how we can best support and develop a skilled and robust construction sector.

At the 29 April NAG meeting, the topics of conversation, opportunities and strategies discussed were mental health, physical well-being, and post COVID job losses impacting 22,000 New Zealand women. Myles voluntarily spent time during lockdown checking in on the well-being of fellow NZMJ members. Then influenced by leading New Zealanders like Mike King developed a mental health tool kit for the industry use; this was done with the support of the Joint Joinery Advisory Group members (JJAG).

In May, we were lucky enough to catch up again, this time with Myles and his colleague Andrew Bellamy of Wood Solutions. We chatted about the Women in their workshops and the changing face of the Joinery sector. The honest, authentic, and practical insights can be read here.

Aside from the biannual NAG meetings, Myles frequently shared his aspiration for locally delivered training. In 2019 I recall in under 30 minutes, he’d provided a very compelling business case to have local training positioned atop of our agenda under the banner “regionally lead learning.” This resulted in a contract being signed that year with local provider Nelson Marlborough Institute for Training (NMIT). Who also after community lobbying has been cited as a Joinery Training Centre of Excellence through Te Pūkenga. Meaning all training for local joinery apprentices will take place in the region. Myles had a shortlist of favoured expressions. When he heard this news, a smile beamed, and “Outstanding” was echoed around the Sellers Room.

It’s worth noting when Myles’s quest to increase the number of apprentices in formal education began, there were seven local joinery apprentices in training. Today the local count has surpassed 50. This growth is directly attributed to Myles and his NZMJ peers’ efforts in Nelson.

We know there is a direct correlation between education and creating positive circles of influence. If we take the 50 apprentices and add one person to their immediate circle, over 100 people’s lives and the communities they live in have been changed for the better.

As a respected man of the industry, in 2020 Myles was appointed as Education Strategy Lead for Master Joiners nationally. It allowed him to demonstrate his passion, not only for apprenticeship training but also for raising the bar and providing specific business learning opportunities tailored to the Joinery industry.

Last year, he took time to work with each of the Regional Presidents to advance education as a regular item at events in all regions. As of 5 July, we have 509 joinery trainees training in one or more Joinery Qualification-related strands.

Myles took challenges head-on and spoke up for those who needed support. Never one to shy away from a difficult conversation. He was courageous and committed, not afraid to put his head up above the parapet, knowing some of his industry colleagues may not necessarily agree. Myles was a leader who didn’t just see the big picture; he drew it and was 100% willing to play the long game.

People like Myles are unique, pillars of our communities and absolute rockstars.

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