James Thomas, Production Manager

Department: Production

Working my way up

“I joined ForFarmers in February 2013 on a temporary contract. My role was to load bags and bulk feed at the site in Carmarthen. Two months later I was pleased to secure a full time job in the warehouse and from there I went on to become the Warehouse Team Leader in July 2017.”

“As time when on, I started to become more interested in the production and day to day running of the mill. In February 2020 I became the Production Manager after completing a Manager’s Level 3 NVQ course.”

“Our goal as a department is to make good quality feed whilst maintaining high throughput and low Kwh/t. Here at Carmarthen we manufacture a wide range of bulk feed and bags including products for dairy, beef, sheep, pigs and poultry. This keeps our teams busy all year round. We all pull together to ensure that customers receive their orders on time and in full.”

“Compared to other ForFarmers locations, we have a split warehouse which is made up of 50% tote bins and 50% bags. The whole team helps to keep our products presented nicely and our yard neat and tidy as you never know when a customer might pop in. Together we build great customer relationships and provide top notch service. We also deliver direct to farm and have a fleet of lorries that are based on site.”


The Carmarthen team

“The Carmarthen mill first opened in 1974 and at that time it produced around 16,000 tonne a year. Following considerable investment and modernisation over recent years, in 2019 we set a new tonnage record of 127,392 tonnes. This was a great achievement and we celebrated as a team together.”

“To ensure high quality, freshness and consistency all of our feed is made to order. We therefore have to be organised and reactive in order to operate efficiently 24 hours a day.”

 “We have a great team and have achieved a lot together over the years. They have also helped me progress within the company and I’m really grateful for all of the opportunities. We have three Production Team Managers, Eddie Morris, Sion Davies and Eric Rees who lead the teams extremely well. They have a wealth of experience which helps me especially in challenging times. We couldn’t do what we do at Carmarthen without them.”

“We have one Warehouse Team Manager, Tom Morris who has his work cut-out running the warehouse and intake. He does a great job and manages to juggle it all. We also have a top engineering team who we really work closely with, to make sure all of the equipment and machinery keeps ticking over. It’s also vital that we uphold health and safety standards to ensure the safety of our staff, contractors and visitors on site. The whole operation wouldn’t be possible without our brilliant Operations and Site Manager, Jeff Davies who leads from the front.”

Running an efficient shift

“A typical day at work normally starts with checking the key performance indicators (KPI’s) for the previous three shifts. I use this information to then update our tiered accountability board ready for the morning meeting. I then go and check on the previous product quality results to ensure our feed and formulations are up to spec.”

“After our morning meeting, I work on any actions that need coordinating and the rest of the day goes pretty quick as there is always plenty to do, with meetings, emails and problem solving tasks.”

“I also enjoy working on continuous improvement projects which often involves collating and analysing data to try and improve processes within the mill.”


Working as a team

“One thing we do well at Carmarthen is working as a team. We all want the same end goal so we always help each other to achieve it.”

“There are always plenty challenges in my role and in this industry. We are constantly re-evaluating our systems and processes in order to improve efficiency, sustainability or health and safety.”

“Breakdowns are critical times for the team and it means all hands are on deck. The team have put in some long hours and shifts in order to solve an issue and get the mill back up and running, this highlights their dedication and commitment, which we all really appreciate.”

“I’m now coming up to my ninth year at ForFarmers and I have learned so much about an industry that I previously didn’t know much about. This knowledge has come from all of the team on site who have so much experience to share and this is one of the main reasons why I enjoy going to work at ForFarmers Carmarthen.”