SWISS TURNED COMPONENTS | (262) 743-1700

Precision Plus Welcomes Two Youth Apprentices and Two Gateway Youth CNC Boot Camp Students

Michael Reader

Youth Apprentices

Jordan Belanus, a senior at Elkhorn Area High School in Elkhorn, WI and Jake Sherwin, a senior at Big Foot High School in Walworth, WI, have joined Precision Plus’ Youth Apprentice Program.

Jordan Belanus began working as an Information Technology (IT) youth apprentice at Precision Plus (PPI) on November 9, 2015, reporting to Jeff Lemmermann, the company’s CIO and CFO. The IT apprenticeship adheres to the IT Skill Standards Checklist established by Wisconsin’s Department of Workforce Development.

Items on the checklist vary from soft skills such as communicating effectively and thinking critically, to job-specific skills such as upgrading an operating system or installing software. The checklist serves as a guideline to help the apprentice obtain designated competencies.

Jordan enjoys working on computers for friends and family, having developed an affinity for programming and networking. As an IT apprentice, he will also be putting those skills to work, performing back up operations, upgrading operating systems and installing software as needed. He will also assist to process employee IT help requests. As his internship progresses, Jordan should be able to perform certain tasks of his own volition, rather than being directed to do so.

In order to receive a certificate for his internship, Jordan must complete 450 total hours of work by August 2016. By state law, however, he cannot exceed 20 hours per week. He learned about PPI’s apprenticeship opportunity through his school’s career and technical education coordinator.

At Elkhorn Area High School, Jordan’s favorite subjects are algebra, physics and geometry. He plans to attend Gateway Technical College in the fall of 2016 and subsequently use its 2-plus-2 articulation agreements with the University of Wisconsin or with Milwaukee School of Engineering to continue his education in computer engineering.

In his spare time, Jordan enjoys playing video games, playing guitar, and practicing Tae Kwon Do, for which he holds a second-degree black belt.

Jake Sherwin began his manufacturing apprenticeship with PPI on November 2, 2015. He reports to Mark Beilman, Director of Education and Training.

The manufacturing apprenticeship follows the Skill Standards Checklist established by Wisconsin’s Department of Workforce Development for that purpose. The first part of the apprenticeship will include a general assessment of Jake’s math skills, micrometer and blueprint reading skills and geometric dimensioning and tolerancing (GD&T) interpretative skills.

After the first phase is completed, Jake will spend time with mentors from different departments to learn skills and applications from them first hand. Jake will be completing the core skills and machining unit of the Production Pathway of the Skill Standards Checklist.   Mentors will sign off on the acquired competencies at the end of their mentoring.

The curriculum at PPI goes hand in hand, with Jake’s curriculum at Big Foot High School. Jake learned about the apprenticeship opportunity at Precision Plus when Mark Beilman spoke to his technical education class in September. Jake knows that he wants to work in the trades—most likely in construction—after his graduation. However, he enjoys the science and agriculture classes he is taking, as well as helping with his family’s farm. In addition, he works part-time at Heyer True Value Hardware Store in Walworth, Wisconsin, so he is keeping his options open. His apprenticeship will also require him to complete 450 hours by August 2016.

When time permits, Jake enjoys hunting and fishing, baseball, and playing bass guitar in a band.

 

Youth CNC Boot Camp Students

Two Gateway students, currently enrolled in Gateway Technical College (GTC)’s Elkhorn Campus Youth CNC Boot Camp have begun their job shadowing experience at Precision Plus, as part of their current semester requirements.

Monday through Friday, Elliot Salentine from East Troy High School and Cameron Bunne from Elkhorn High School attend high school in the morning, followed by classes and training at GTC from 12:30 until 4:30 in the afternoon. As they learn different processes and applications at school, a concurrent shadowing program lends them the opportunity to watch professionals performing those jobs. Each student spends one hour per week at PPI to meet those requirements.

Thus far, the students have shadowed Marty Baumgardner in the Quality Assurance Lab, Ryan Landreman and Brad Pearson on the Miyano platform, and Curtis Hibl in the CAM Department. The shadowing will continue on the Tornos platform, the Secondary Department, the Scheduling Department and, finally, the Shipping Department.

Elliot and Cameron will continue their high school/boot camp schedule until the spring semester begins on February 2, 2016. At that time, they will attend their high school classes in the mornings, but will participate in a mentoring program at Precision Plus in the afternoon, learning and working in different departments. The mentoring phase will end in May 2016. The students will receive high school and boot camp credits for their experience at the company.

Although the Youth CNC Boot Camp mentoring program is similar to the Youth Apprenticeship program already in place, possible modifications may be made based on the students’ incoming skill level.

Cameron and Elliot are members of the first Youth CNC Boot Camp to graduate from GTC’s Elkhorn Campus in Walworth County. The program had already been running successfully at GTC’s other two locations in Racine and Kenosha.

For more information about Precision Plus’ apprenticeship and mentoring programs, please contact Mark Beilman via email or by calling 262-743-1700.

 

A Note from Mike Reader

Michael Reader

It is hard to believe summer, as we know it, is coming to a close: students are returning to school and Labor Day is right around the corner.  It has gone by quickly, but has left us with much to reflect upon as we head into the next season.

As time passes, it creates new opportunities for ideas to blossom into reality, and for changes to take place. I want to share with you some of the most significant events time brought through Precision Plus over the summer.

Change of the Guard

Barry Butters, Director of Education and Training, who joined our team 25 months ago, has chosen to return to the education field. As a career educator, and very accomplished one at that, he set out to learn everything he could about manufacturing from “Day One,” as he walked in the front door.

His energy and willingness to help anyone with a question quickly showed –even the most skeptical–why we had brought Barry on board.  His engagement with people spanned from those already in the building, to those outside unaware of the wonderful career opportunities in today’s manufacturing environment.

Barry immersed himself in learning all facets of what we do in order to help us improve and to share the story with students, educators and parents.  Like everything else Barry had set to do in his life, he excelled while making a positive impact on everyone he interacted with.

Sadly for me and the Precision Plus Team, Barry has transitioned back into public education to continue his passion for working with young adults.  Our loss, is Beloit Memorial High School’s gain, where Barry will be back in the classroom teaching advanced math and other Project Lead The Way (PLTW) classes.

Goodbye is too permanent a word, so I say farewell my good friend.  May your journey continue to influence the next generation of leaders, problem solvers and difference makers.  You will be missed, but never forgotten. I truly hope we will find a way to continue the work started with you, even if in a smaller scale.  Big shoes to fill.

Into them, however, steps another difference maker.  Mark Beilman, former Tech Ed instructor from East Troy High School, joined our team on August 3rd, to take the reins from Barry and lead our education and training efforts.   Mark brings a balanced background, with experience in manufacturing as well as education, which has helped him hit the ground running, as he explains in his introductory letter.  Please join me in giving Mark a warm welcome.

Customer/Employee Surveys

Our quest to be a better vendor/partner, community members and employer is an ongoing effort.  This summer, we have been working with the University of Wisconsin at Whitewater and the Wisconsin Innovation Service Center to learn more about ourselves through how our customers and employees perceive us.

To accomplish this, we have conducted both customer and employee surveys.  Let me personally thank all of you who participated, and please know all your comments are important to me, including those that point out our flaws, as they clearly represent opportunities for improvement.

Internally, we have started conversations to address each of these and we are working aggressively to do better as we build upon all the positives already in place.  You will likely see a few additional short surveys in the months to come and I thank you in advance for your honest feedback.

Gateway Technical College Elkhorn Manufacturing Center

Our partnership with Gateway Technical College (GTC) continues to grow and evolve.  Together with Mark Beilman, we were given a private tour of the Elkhorn Campus Manufacturing Lab, following the arrival of four brand new Haas SL-10 lathes and one Tsugami S205 Swiss-type CNC lathe fitted with a high pressure coolant pump and a MTA tracer magazine barfeeding system.

Many thanks go to Dr. Bryan Albrecht of GTC for listening to the business community and embracing the opportunity to be a leader in Southeast Wisconsin technical education.

Our heartfelt appreciation must also go out to the equipment manufacturer partners that stepped up with VERY generous donations to make this dream come true.  Brad Morris of the Morris Group and Jamie Schwarz of CNC Indexing & Feeding Technologies both offered state-of- the-art equipment at a substantial discount.

Furthermore, I am thrilled to announce that PartMaker Software and GTC have forged a long-term agreement to provide computer aided manufacturing (CAM) software for the students in the Manufacturing Lab.  Hanan Fishman, President of Delcam/PartMaker deserves a big “Thank you!” for making this happen.  Only with the support of industry leaders like Brad, Jamie and Hanan, could the Manufacturing Lab become a reality.

Mecco Laser Marking System

In the meantime, Precision Plus continues to invest in technologies to add value for our customers/partners, the latest addition being a laser marking system by Mecco.  It is a 20-watt fiber laser with a 110 x 110 mm field fitted with a rotary stage and powered z-axis to enable us to mark around round parts.  Paul McDonough has completed the installation validation and it is “open for business.”  An article about Paul and the Mecco Laser Marking System is available for you to read HERE.

Solar Array

As of August 7th, our solar array became functional, and continues to generate energy–even on cloudy days. Our appreciation goes to Neil Fleischhacker for coordinating this project as well as other green initiatives. Recent statistics and a video of the installation are available HERE.

2015-2016 Apprentices

Precision Plus will soon welcome our 2015-2016 apprentices, and we are diligently planning a fall schedule that includes school visits, career and technical education committee meetings, MFG Day celebrations, and much more.

I look forward to continue to update you on Precision Plus

-Mike

Gateway Technical College Elkhorn Campus Launches First Midwest Micro Machining Advanced Manufacturing Lab

Michael Reader

By Dana Runimas-Plazyk
Reporting for Precision Plus

Recently, I had the pleasure of talking with Dr. Bryan Albrecht, President of Gateway Technical College (GTC), about the launch of a micro machining (Swiss screw machining) advanced manufacturing facility at the school’s Elkhorn, WI Campus.

When Albrecht joined GTC as its president in 2006, he was charged with creating curricula that directly responded to the need for a highly skilled workforce by Southeast Wisconsin employers, imperative to have in place in order to grow the local economy. He began his tenure by holding “listening sessions,” with local businesses, to enable GTC to understand that need.

The requests were vast and included a ready workforce need for manufacturing, HVAC, IT, health sciences, aeronautic, automotive, hospitality, law enforcement and everything in between. Over the last nine years, many programs have been developed and are successfully in place, addressing the needs of the local business community. Today, Gateway Technical College operates from three campuses in Racine, Kenosha and Walworth counties, and offers advance technical certificates, associate degrees, technical diplomas, and certificates, some online classes, and dual enrollment options with the University of Wisconsin, Parkside.

“On an annual basis, 23,000 students attend Gateway,” says Albrecht. “We currently offer 100 certificate programs and 65 degree programs. Last week alone, we graduated EMS technicians, certified police officers, and SharePoint developers. Additionally, we are working with primary and secondary schools on K12 articulation.”

However, Albrecht points out that in as much as the workforce needs of manufacturers in Kenosha and Racine counties had been met, GTC “couldn’t wrap up” their thoughts for the needs of manufacturers in Walworth County.

He recalls meeting Mike Reader, President of Precision Plus, in 2012 at a career and technical education advisory committee meeting. “Mike’s concern about the lack of a qualified workforce to address the requirements of Walworth County manufacturers struck a chord,” says Albrecht. “Mike and Precision Plus were adamant about changing the situation, and had launched, single-handedly, an educational initiative geared to correct this issue, while bringing attention to–and gaining the support of–educators, organizations and legislators.”

“Changing the situation would also require higher-level technical education,” reflects Albrecht. “Both the Racine and Kenosha Campuses offered associate degrees in manufacturing and machine tool, as well as CNC programs. None was available in Walworth County.” Albrecht recalls Reader’s words: “We have to get this done, Bryan.”

Albrecht considers Mike Reader “a true champion,” who enlisted the help of fellow manufacturers, vendors, customers, legislators, educators, students, and organizations to “get things rolling.” A preliminary study conducted by GTC indicated Walworth County was one of two national hubs (the other being Kosciusko County, IN) for Swiss-type precision manufacturers (micromachining), and that the absence of technically skilled employees to run the specialized equipment, made it hard to grow the local economy.

Albrecht presented Gateway’s Board of Trustees with a plan: To expand the Walworth Campus to include a state-of-art manufacturing center, offering the traditional manufacturing programs already in place at the other two campuses, plus a unique Swiss screw (micromachining) advanced manufacturing program. The latter, would make Gateway Technical College the first institution in the Midwest to offer this specialized training, also contributing to better position Wisconsin in the overall global market.

The current plans for the new manufacturing center include remodeling of the the Elkhorn Campus South Building and an expansion which will bring the total area dedicated to the center to 4,000 sq. ft. The center (yet to be named) will house welding, fabrication, rapid prototype, computer aided design (CAD), engineering, and full-scale precision machining labs. The footprint construction will start in November with an estimated Spring of 2016 completion date.

GTC’s Manufacturing Center officially opened over the summer by offering a Youth CNC Boot Camp, a program designed for high school seniors to finish the school year with a high school degree and a CNC operator certificate.

The CNC adult programs will begin to be offered at the Elkhorn Campus in September.   “We have recently added two new instructors, as all CNC classes at all three campuses are fully enrolled,” adds Albrecht.

[pb_slideshow group=”22″]

Equipment has been steadily arriving to the new manufacturing center over the last couple of months, and Albrecht reiterates that the total endeavor would not have been possible without Mike Reader’s resolve, his ability to see the big picture, and his talent to simultaneously engage all the pieces that were needed to make the center a reality.

Thus far, four brand new Haas ST-10 lathes, one Tsugami S205 CNC Swiss machine, and an MTA barfeeder are already in place thanks to the tremendous help from Brad Morris of The Morris Group, and Jamie Schwartz of CNC Indexing & Feeding Technologies. Precision Plus not only assisted with the equipment installation, but also with a generous donation of $50,000, which facilitated the purchase of the equipment. Plans are to have at least eight Haas machines, 4 turning and 4 vertical machining centers, when the center is in full operation.

Industry support for GTC’s manufacturing center has been unprecedented, notably, a long-term agreement reached by GTC with Hanan Fishman of PartMaker who will provide computer aided manufacturing (CAM) software for students in the center. Also, a recent $2,500 tool donation by Grainger for the CNC Boot Camp, will contribute to the student experience.

On August 15, 2015, Mike Reader and Mark Beilman, Director of Education and Training at Precision Plus, toured the repurposed space housing the equipment. “We met with Dean of Students Michael O’Donnell and instructor JD Jones,” mentions Reader. “We had a great meeting and everyone is excited about the new equipment rolling in.”

The next few months promise to be exciting for the Elkhorn Campus of Gateway Technical College, and for the local industry, community, and economy. Precision Plus thanks Dr. Albrecht for his time to conduct this interview, and looks forward to continue to report on the progress of Gateway Technical College Elkhorn Campus’s new manufacturing center.

Barry Butters of Precision Plus Speaks at the June 2, 2015 Milwaukee7 Council Meeting About Talent and Workforce Development for the Area

Michael Reader

The Milwaukee7 represents Milwaukee, Kenosha, Racine, Washington, Ozaukee, Waukesha, and Walworth Counties.  The aim of the Milwaukee7 is to compete globally in an innovation economy through the unification of this region. Aiding the growth, expansion, and attraction of export driver industries and emerging business sectors, as well as strengthening this region’s ability to innovate, are the key goals of this organization.”

Walworth County hosted a Milwaukee7 Council Meeting on June 2, 2015 at the Riviera Ballroom in Lake Geneva, Wisconsin. The agenda included presentations by local business leaders to address initiatives already in place to promote regional export of goods and services, as well talent development and acquisition.

Barry Butters, Director of Education and Training at Precision Plus spoke to the group about the company’s talent procurement initiatives. He used some of the slides from Precision Plus’ “13-Step Playbook for Workforce Development” presentation to show examples of how companies can engage their communities for this purpose. He also made reference to Mike Reader, president of the company, as a true visionary on workforce development issues.

Butters invited companies with similar interests in workforce development to reach out to Precision Plus to share and collaborate on solutions, and was commended for delivering an engaging presentation with a great overview on the ways companies can fill their future talent pipeline, and the willingness to help out and promote engagement and partnership.

Contact Barry Butters via email or by phone.

 

Precision Plus Efforts Help Bring a New CNC Boot Camp to Walworth County

Michael Reader

There is no doubt that Precision Plus had rallied incessantly to bring CNC training to Walworth County in Wisconsin. With Gateway Technical College’s (GTC) February 2015 announcement of their Elkhorn Campus expansion, which will include a new state-of-the-art manufacturing training center, CNC training in Walworth County is now a reality. As early as July 2015, incoming high school seniors will be able to attend a CNC Boot Camp at the Elkhorn Campus.

The CNC Boot Camp has proved to be a successful 14-week training program for adults, and it is currently on its 22nd session at the iMET Center in Sturtevant.  About three years ago, the same program was developed for high school seniors, to be taken in conjunction with their regular high school classes. The High School CNC Boot Camp—also known as the CNC Youth Boot Camp–also includes an internship with a manufacturing company.

This past year, Precision Plus supported the program by taking Boot Camp student Scott Dvorak from Waterford Union High School as an intern. Barry Butters, Director of Education and Training said, “Logistically, this was the first time that it made sense to sponsor a student. Scott attends early morning classes at the school, which is about a 30-minute drive from Precision Plus–a much shorter ride than it would be for his CNC classmates who typically attend the Racine School District. He arrives at the company at 10am and works until 3pm.

The CNC High School Boot Camp at the Elkhorn Campus is certainly a plus for Walworth County students and the community. Its July kickoff, however, is contingent on having enough interest from area students. Applications are due no later than May 1, 2015.

With the short time frame in mind, Precision Plus’ mission became to bring the news to as many people as possible and encourage students and parents to look into the program.

On Tuesday, February 24th, Barry Butters attended the Whitewater High School Career and Technical Education (CTE) Committee meeting along with Derek D’Auria the Executive Director Walworth County Economic Development Alliance (WCEDA). The meeting is held twice a year for the school’s career, technical education teachers, so they can, in turn, share curriculum, and classroom updates with their industry partners and discuss new ideas and developments. Butters and D’Auria took this opportunity to inform the group about the CNC High School Boot Camp coming to Walworth County.

On Monday, March 9th, Barry Butters along with Rich Lofy, the Coordinator of the CNC Youth Boot Camp, spoke to a few East Troy students and parents at East Troy High School about opportunities in the machining industry and the boot camp itself. The event was coordinated by Stacey Kuehn, Assistant Principal at East Troy High School, and it was in conjunction with the school’s parent-teacher conference night.

On Friday, March 13th, Butters met with Lauren Paterson, a Badger High School student, her parent and the Badger High School Career and Technical Education Coordinator, Marie Collins, to discuss the Boot Camp and show Lauren some actual CNC applications.

On Monday, March 16th, Butters met with five students, two parents and the three guidance counselors from Elkhorn Area High School to talk about the CNC Youth Boot Camp and tour Precision Plus, so as to give the them a good understanding of the CNC machining industry.

  1. Butters begins the tours with a PowerPoint talking to students about what they will be seeing on the floor
  2. Butters shows the students parts that are being run on the Tornos Cam machines
  3. Butters talks about the Swiss type CNC machine
  4. Butters shows the students the Miyano CNC turret lathes
  5. Butters talks about the optical comparator and the precision that is held on the parts

On Tuesday, March 31st, three Gateway new student specialists and their supervisor toured Precision Plus to gain a better understanding of the machining industry.

The new student specialists were,

  • Amanda Hruzek, who services Delavan Darien High School, Williams Bay High School and Badger High School
  • Joseph Sell, who services Whitewater High School, Burlington High School and the Wisconsin School for the Deaf
  • Katie Graf, who serves the Walworth County Alternative High School, Elkhorn Area High School, Catholic Central High School, East Troy High School and Big Foot High School

Their supervisor is Angela Becerra-Chvilicek, who is the Director of College Access for Gateway.

Today’s machining professionals require a solid and balanced mix of science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) background, mechanical aptitude and great problem solving skills. As such, it is imperative that those in the guidance/counseling areas have a firm grasp of the skills required to be 21st century machinist.The visit included a PowerPoint presentation and tour of the facility.

On Wednesday, April 1st, Precision Plus hosted another tour for students interested in the CNC Boot Camp in Walworth. The participation included two students from Burlington High School, one from Badger High School, one from Waterford Union High School, one from Elkhorn Area High School, and one from Wilmot High School. Each student brought along a parent. There were 12 people total for the tour.

Independently of Precision Plus’ efforts, two information meetings have taken place already. There will be one more chance for students to attend an information meeting for the CNC Boot Camp at the WCEDA office on Wednesday, April 8th. The WCEDA Office is now located in the South Building at the Gateway Elkhorn Campus. Interested students can call Marci Barr at 262-741-5263.

 

Elkhorn Youth CNC Boot Camp Information Program to be Held on March 25 and April 8, 2015

Michael Reader

Students and Parents! Don’t miss this opportunity to attend an informational session about the new CNC Boot Camp program coming to Gateway Technical College in Elkhorn, Wisconsin in July! The informational session will be held on March 25 and April 8, 2015.

The information session will be held on March 25 and April 8, 2015 at 5:30 pm and will be held at Walworth County Job Center, 400 County Road H. in Elkhorn. Contact  Marci Barr at 262-741-5263 for more information.

Check out what seniors already in the program at Gateway’s iMET Center are saying about it:

Precision Plus is a Proud Member of the Walworth County Economic Development Alliance, Inc.

Michael Reader

Precision Plus of Elkhorn, Wisconsin is a proud member of the Walworth County Economic Development Alliance, Inc. (WCEDA), a dynamic, progressive organization that “is dedicated to improving the quality of life for Walworth County residents by working with public and private sector partners to advance efforts that create jobs and build private sector investment in our communities.”

The communities included in Walworth County are Delavan, East Troy, Elkhorn, Lake Geneva and Whitewater. With a population of 102,000, Walworth County is regarded as a strategic business location nestled in between Milwaukee to the north, Chicago to the south, and Madison to the west.

According to the WCEDA, “Walworth County has 14 tax incremental finance (TIF) districts targeted for business development, as well as nine business parks, including several located along Interstate 43. World class facilities completed in 2011 include the Mercy Walworth Medical Center, and the LEED Gold certified Whitewater Innovation Center at the award-winning 125-acre Whitewater University Technology Park.”

The WCEDA is also actively involved in initiatives to find and develop the next generation of manufacturing employees. On October 30th, the Walworth County Job Center is offering a Manufacturing Job Fair at Lake Lawn Resort at which Precision Plus plans to participate.

Wisconsin Fast Forward Program Plans to Award $15 MM in Grants to Support Employer-Led Worker Training

Michael Reader

In March of 2013, Wisconsin State Governor Scott Walker, with nearly full support of the State Legislature, signed the “Wisconsin Fast Forward” program, whereby $15 million in grants would be made available to support employer-led worker training programs, and ultimately connect job seekers with employers.  This initiative is in line with the State’s intention to educate and train high-skilled workers.  The program is being administered by the Department of Workforce Development’s (DWD) new Office of Skills Development (OSD), and has already helped create worker-training programs, preparing workers for Wisconsin jobs available today and in the years to come.

DWD’s Shelly Harkins has made a number of presentations to the manufacturing community to explain the grant procedures and requirements.  On March 18, 2014, Precision Plus welcomed Ms. Harkins to our facility where she would address a number of Walworth County manufacturers who gathered at  the company’s new multi-purpose classroom.  The following Walworth County’s companies attended the presentation:  Iseli, Hudapack Metal Treating, Inc., Prop Shaft Supply, MacLean Fogg, Bliss Machine, Ltd., ScotForge, Micro Precision, Inc., Aztalan Engineering, and R & L Spring Company.

More information about the grant may be found here.

180 High School Students Attend the First Manufacturing Career Panel Discussion at Elkhorn Area High School in Wisconsin

Michael Reader

Despite an 8” snow fall, on February 27, 2013 180 high school students from Elkhorn, Lake Geneva and William’s Bay gathered at Elkhorn Area High School’s  Wehner Auditorium to listen to a panel of manufacturing professionals discuss the vast possibilities available today in the world of hi-tech manufacturing.  The program was entitled “Elkhorn Area High School – Manufacturing Career Panel.”

This manufacturing awareness initiative began in late July of 2012, when 40 business representatives from Walworth County—most of them manufacturers—met to discuss the skills gap and the increasing demand for skilled manufacturing professionals.   The vision was clear: to strive for the collaboration of businesses, the academic world and legislators in order to validate the impact that the manufacturing sector (or its absence) has on the overall economy of the state and the country.  Additionally, the group agreed to foster initiatives aimed to bring up a new crop of world-class manufacturers through relevant education.   The mission was also clear:  to make the vision happen, and to dispel the current stigma hovering over the notion of pursuing a career in manufacturing.

“The real world of 21st Century manufacturing is totally different than its mid-century predecessor,” comments Mike Reader, President of Precision Plus   “Today, manufacturing is the engine behind every “Top-Gun” pilot’s aircraft, the tools behind every surgeon’s life or death decision, the technique behind every tractor reaping the best of the crop, and even the reality that made the Mars Rover Mission possible. “

“Today’s manufacturing industry is not looking for unskilled workers, but instead, is looking for the cream of the crop,” adds Mike Reader, “Only 3 out of 100 candidates makes the cut. The manufacturing industry needs people who will make James Bond succeed and we’re willing to train them on the job and pay them a salary comparable or even greater than any college graduate.  But they have to have the drive and the will.”

Late in 2012, Precision Plus invited twenty-four area educators to tour its facilities in Elkhorn, WI and to discuss the manufacturing possibilities available for high school graduates in the area. The exchange resulted in the implementation of a program aimed to educate high school students about the reality of a future in manufacturing.  Under the diligent leadership of EAHS’s Career and Technical Education Coordinator JoAnne Pella and the support and endorsement of Principal Tina Bosworth, a Manufacturing Career Panel was organized for February 27, 2013.

The event was formatted as a panel discussion.  The manufacturing professionals panelists were Dan Murphy,  Regional Sales Manager at Rem Sales, LLC; Darlene Miller, President and CEO of Permac Industries; John Murphy, President of Morris Midwest, LLC; Olaf Tessarzyk, Managing Partner of ZPS America, LLC, and Mike Reader, President of Precision Plus  For one and a half hours, the panelists and students engaged in a genuine discussion about the state of the industry and the possibilities manufacturing has available for young people finishing high school.

It was pointed out by the panelists, that the marked difference between a regular college education vs. a technical college education and/or on-the-the-job training was the opportunity to have real-work experience rather than strictly classroom instruction.  A person learning and experiencing the art and science of machining,  may continue on as business owner, as a program developer, design engineer, quality control engineer, management leader or sales professional, to name a few, and have the real-life experience to understand how to transform ideas into reality.  The machining industry opens the doors to limitless possibilities, offering rewarding careers to “Top Gun” candidates, both men and women.

Following the panel discussion, several tours have been scheduled for students to visit area manufacturers.  The next phase in the manufacturing awareness program is to develop internships for high school and college students, to coordinate learning opportunities with local technical colleges and to seek increased support of  local, state and national legislators.


Walworth County, WI and Gateway Technical College: Light Years Ahead in Addressing Impending U.S. Manufacturing Needs

Michael Reader

Recently, we received this invitation from Debbie Davidson, Vice President, Workforce & Economic Development Division at Gateway College:

“Dear Walworth County Manufacturer,

Due to the increased need for skilled manufacturing employees, Gateway Technical College, Walworth County Job Center and the Walworth County Economic Development Alliance (WCEDA), invite you to attend a planning meeting on July 26th at Gateway’s Elkhorn Campus (400 County Road H, Elkhorn, WI, South Building, Room 112) from 7:30am to 9:00am.

At this meeting we will discuss a variety of options to provide you with skilled technicians including:

  • Developing curriculum to meet your needs;
  • Offering  training at the Elkhorn Campus and/or at your facility;
  • Modifying and/or developing   boot camps in manufacturing-related skills;
  • Implementing an “Earn-and-Learn” model which would allow students to work for you while attending classes providing an opportunity for on-the-job  skill application;
  • Scheduling classes such as, Applied Math, Blueprint Reading, Safety, Gauging and Inspection, Measurement, Communication, Lean Six Sigma Yellow Belt and more;
  • Identifying funding models to support new and unique training models.

Please join us and be part of the conversation. The meeting is free. However, we ask that you make a reservation for our planning purposes. Please contact Debbie Davidson at 262-564-3422 or email davidsond@gtc.edu no later than July 20, 2012 to reserve your spot. We look forward to working with you to meet your hiring needs.  If you are unable to attend, please consider sending a designee from your company. Feel free to share this invite with others throughout Walworth County.

Debbie Davidson
Vice President, Workforce & Economic Development Division

Gateway Technical College

3520-30th Avenue
Kenosha, WI  53144
Office: 262-564-3422
Cell: 262-914-0154
Email: davidsond@gtc.edu

We’re planning to be there.  Are you?