When Karunaarachchilage Nanda Hemalatha started work at the Ceylon Pencil Co. back in 1960, it was a different world.
Her starting salary was Rs 2 she remains among the oldest group of employees in the company and is committed to working until ‘her hands can work no more’.
The company in turn has been good to her, she recalls fondly. E.A.D Somawathi joined Ceylon Pencil Co in 1965 at a time when pens were marketed under the brand name “Varsity” – she too was paid Rs 2 as her salary but was able to save half of it, she says gleefully.
She remembers a flood that threatened to engulf the company ; she was expecting her first child but chose to stay on and help others.
Today, even as Ceylon Pencil Co has grown to become a powerhouse of world- class stationary and related items, there remains one unbroken thread of strength that runs through the company’s heritage as a pioneer Sri Lankan company. Its oldest employees, who have served the Company with commitment and dedication unparalleled, for over a century form the backbone of the Company.
Ananda Janapriya, Business Development Manager, joined the Company in 1999 but says the changes have been tremendous from then to now. He has grown with the company and has seen its expansion happen over the years. He remembers having to work through challenging times but says that long time employees such as himself, are richer by the experience.
Lalani Weeraarachchi, Head of HR at Ceylon Pencil Co, joined the Company in 2009. She says the Company maintains excellent employee relations – one of the highlights of her career was when the Company won Gold in 5S Principles. She says that they are currently planning a project on human capital development, which she believes would offer much value to employees.
“ In today’s fast paced career world, these people remain firm and grounded in their loyalty and their total commitment to their work,” said Nirmal Madanayake, M.D of Ceylon Pencil Co, “ They belong with Atlas – most of them were here long before we were. There’s a lot they could teach us about principles and work ethics.” Over the years as the business grew, many professionals have been recruited, trained and retained, enabling the business, the brand and the people themselves to flourish, he adds. “We believe in investing in our people and encouraging them to grow. It is a major part of our culture and forms the core of professionalism driven across the business, across all levels of leadership and teams, empowering the people to develop; it is the spirit of entrepreneurship that allows for innovation and inspires people with passion to progress.”