SERVING THE COMMUNITIES
Port Log Fall 2015
Leaf Services President Scott McKenzie mentors the future River Parishes industrial workforce and future leaders in volunteerism and philanthropy
To Scott MacKenzie, the ideal employee does much more than punch a clock; they leave a lasting mark — that means in the office, on the plant floor and especially outside the walls of work.
As the head of Leaf Services, MacKenzie has a hand in all elements of the industrial development and technical education company located in Gramercy. A diverse set of industrial manufacturing and terminal clients — including mainly within the Port of South Louisiana’s Port District — lean upon Leaf for both unskilled and skilled service offerings, including: general maintenance, I&E, welding/pipefitting, tanker man/terminal, rail and equipment operations.
“Typically, a certain percentage of a high school class will go to college, but a larger percentage won’t. And that leaves a gap,” MacKenzie says. “And that gap has to be filled some sort of technical/craft profession. And the students say, ‘I’m sitting here. I’m learning a trade, but everybody needs three to five years experience. So that’s the real gap — and that’s the gap we try to bridge.”
To accomplish that, MacKenzie and Leaf works closely with local technical colleges and port-district companies to develop custom apprenticeship programs for various levels of employees. Using funds from the Louisiana Workforce Commission, Leaf is able to provide the financial support necessary for the “alliance” with technical colleges, certification training/testing and other development opportunities deemed beneficial to the Leaf candidate.
“The hands-on teaching is so vital,” MacKenzie says. “Something as simple as putting a hardhat on, putting earplugs in, and working around an industrial environment makes an impact. Of course, the first thing we stress — and the thing we stress over and over and over — is safety. Because without safety, without employees focused on the task and doing the task correctly and efficiently, you don’t have a company.
“Beyond that though, they need to touch and feel and see,” MacKenzie says. “It’s one thing to read about technical applications, it’s another thing to see that technical application, but to do it is invaluable.”
An education roadmap is diagramed for each Leaf “Team Member” when they enter the program. As you might expect, the usual buzzwords mark the route: training, experience, and certification. The final blip on the road map is a bit unexpected, however, but, according to MacKenzie, just as vital as any form of education to constructing a well-rounded, trustworthy employee — community volunteerism.
“The workforce is the soul of a company, and so therefore the soul of that workforce grows when they are active and participating in their community,” MacKenzie says. “And that’s why community involvement is a part of what we do. And there’s a reason: it allows team members to look outside themselves and instills a sense of purpose and focus.”
In and around the River Parishes, Leaf is an active volunteer participant with the Chateau St. James Rehab and Retirement Center in Lutcher, chipping in with additional free manpower when needed, which is often. The Leaf members prepare and serve food, fix maintenance issues and general up-keep. MacKenzie and Leaf also partner with the Louisiana Sugar Refinery’s charity efforts for the American Cancer Society.
Leaf also extends a helping hand to those in need by lending its technical expertise to those who can’t afford proper training. Leaf provides free industrial training and educational services to at-risk or in-need community residents through various faith-based organizations, such as Family Promise, a nationwide charitable network devoted to ending family homelessness.
“Being a part of the community in which your business is in — it’s just the right thing to do,” MacKenzie says. “I’ve had the office overlooking the Mississippi River before, but is that it? No, you have to have a purpose, a drive, something noble, something greater than you to push you.”