LONG SERVICE: General manager J. Notaras and Sons Donna Layton has brought up 40 years of employment with the family business this year.
LONG SERVICE: General manager J. Notaras and Sons Donna Layton has brought up 40 years of employment with the family business this year. Adam Hourigan

MILESTONES: Excellence goes both ways at J. Notaras and Sons

WHEN Donna Layton first arrived at J. Notaras and Sons in 1978 after leaving school, she was ready to start the first job in her working life as an assistant in the office.

Now, 40 years later, after working her way through the ranks, Ms Layton is the general manager of the family business she considers her home away from home.

When Ms Layton says it's a good place to work, she isn't the only one who believes it.

Why else would there be five people there with more than 40years' experience, nine with 20 years and seven with more than 10 years under their belts - out of a staff of 39?

Ms Layton said J. Notaras and Sons, which recently won the Excellence in Trade and Manufacturing Award at the Clarence Valley Business Excellence Awards, was an excellent place to work.

"I grew up here and the beauty of starting work at a place when you're young is that everyone just becomes a part of the family, and I've always been looked after here like I'm a part of the family," she said.

"When you spend almost as much time working as you do at home, it's important to enjoy your work because it becomes a home away from home, and I never wanted to work anywhere else.

"Even some of our employees have had their children working here, so we've seen the next generation of family coming through."

Ms Layton said she believed the high number of long-term employees was due to good conditions, well-paying jobs and a high level of safety.

"When you consider it's a sawmill, the nature of the business being family owned, everyone is pretty close - we've always had a solid staff," she said.

"It also gives us the opportunity to do different things. I did my Bachelor of Business and we've trained all of our staff members to give them accreditation for what they do.

"We have an employee who had stomach cancer and we were able to keep him employed doing jobs he was able to do, and that's the type of thing you can do when you have people employed long term.

"If something happens, we can support them and find ways to accommodate them," she said.