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Precision Plus’ 2015-2016 Year Education Update

Michael Reader

By Mark Beilman
Director of Education and Training

The 2015-2016 academic year is well underway, and so are Precision Plus’ efforts to continue spreading the word among students, parents and teachers about career possibilities in manufacturing.

In addition to visiting schools, talking to technical education teachers, and participating in career and technical education (CTE) committees, Precision Plus (PPI) makes itself present at high school and college career fairs.

On September 9, 2015, PPI was present at the Panther Fest Career Fair at Wilmot Union High School, and plans to be at Beloit High School’s career fair on the 24th. On October 9th, the destination will be Milwaukee School of Engineering (MSOE), which will hold its career fair then.

On September 15, 2015, PPI attended Gateway Technical College Elkhorn Campus’s Open House, which showcased the new Community Center conference room, the Student Life Center, Walworth County Job Center, Walworth County Economic Development Alliance (WCEDA), the Veterinary Sciences building, and the Walworth County Educational Consortium’s Alternative High School.

Drawings of the anticipated new CNC Center were also on display. Precision Plus is fully vested in the success of this program. The first Youth CNC Boot Camp at the Elkhorn Campus began in July. One of the highlights of the program is the mentorship which each individual student receives from a designated industry professional.

A “Meet-and-Greet” luncheon for students and mentors was held at the college on September 18th, where mentors were announced and appointed. The luncheon was sponsored by WCEDA and the Walworth County Job Center. Precision Plus is excited to mentor two students during the 2015-2016 year: Elliot Salentine from East Troy High School and Cameron Bunne from Elkhorn High School. The students will not only receive ongoing mentoring, but will have an opportunity to work at PPI beginning in February of 2016, in accordance to their curriculum.

Precision Plus also encourages schools to bring classes to tour its facilities. On September 16, 2015, Career Advocate Lindsay Healless from Beloit Middle School brought her students to interview Mike Reader and Chris Clausen about careers in manufacturing. The students asked very good questions during the interview, but two of the students, Emily and MacKenzie, stumped Reader and Clausen when asked how they balanced work and their personal lives, and what were the most difficult portions of their jobs.

Two other schools are scheduled to tour the facility in October: the Walworth County Educational Consortium’s Alternative High School on the 8th, and Whitewater High School on the 15th.

The most anticipated event, however, is the celebration of Manufacturing Day (MFG DAY). Precision Plus is opening its doors for an open house on Thursday, October 8, 2015 from 5:00 p.m. until 7:30 p.m. Students, educators, parents, legislators and the public at large are invited to partake in an informal presentation by several PPI employees on what their roles are at the company, and take guided tours of the plant. To attend this event, please register HERE.

Precision Plus is committed to education and to bringing awareness of career opportunities in high-tech manufacturing. To schedule a tour of our facility and/or allow us to make a presentation to your group or organization, please contact Mark Beilman by email or by calling 262-743-1700.

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.

 

Feeding the Employee Pipeline: WCEDA Panel Discussion on Efforts to Create a Viable Workforce for the Future

Michael Reader

A panel discussion entitled “Feeding the Employee Pipeline,” was organized and presented by the Walworth County Economic Development Alliance (WCEDA) on Thursday, March 19, 2015 at the Geneva National Golf Club.

The purpose of this panel presentation was to bring together educators and industry leaders to better understand the present shortage of a skilled workforce and its future implication, to learn about the solutions and initiatives currently in place that address that shortage, and find out how collaborative efforts are essential for creating a viable workforce. Barry Butters, Director of Education and Training at Precision Plus, was invited to be a panelist.

Derek D’Auria , Executive Director of WCEDA, moderated the discussion. In his introduction, D’Auria referred to data collected for a Harvard University study, which indicate that 33% of jobs in the future (as early as 2018) will require a 4-year degree, 57% will require a technical skill, and 10% of jobs will be able to be filled with unskilled employees. He also pointed out that currently in Wisconsin, 65% of all high school graduates set off go to a 4-year college after high school graduation, but that only 25% earn a bachelor ‘s degree, leaving the rest typically with a lot of debt, and resorting to part-time jobs.

First to address the audience was Karen Burns, Manager of the Walworth County Job Center. Burns summarized all the programs that are available at this agency—from learning interviewing soft skills, to working on resumes, to lining up candidates with programs, to working in conjunction with Gateway Technical College and employers.

The second speaker was Dennis Winters, Chief Economist, Wisconsin Department of Workforce Development. Winters presented several slides showing a growing disparity between jobs and the workforce, and the implications, should the situation remain status quo. He contrasted the job seeker position from 50 or 60 years ago, with the one from today, by saying “You can’t expect now to finish high school and run a machine: understand technology, run it, and don’t break it!”

Winters also spoke about the “Wisconsin Fast Forward” program, a blueprint for prosperity, based on employer-need base training. He emphasized the importance of postsecondary training and continuous improvement, and concluded with the following statement: “Education and training must be part of your lifestyle for the rest of your life.”

Barry Butters, Director of Education and Training at Precision Plus., was the first panelist to speak. He pointed out that a manufacturing company can expand their brick and mortar and get new equipment, but without people to run it, the expansion is senseless. Given this situation, Mike Reader, President and Owner of the company, hired Butters to build an awareness campaign to make this happen. As an example, Precision Plus has established internship and youth apprenticeship programs, actively participates in several career and technical education (CTE) committees at the high school and college level, and has sponsored industry field trips for students. Butters also teaches an engineering design and development (EDD) course through Elkhorn Area High School and regularly engages with other companies to encourage their involvement.

The next panelist was JoAnne Pella, Career Advisor of Elkhorn Area High School (EAHS). Pella outlined the programs that are in place at the school, such as co-ops, career panels, that will guarantee that all students be exposed to academic career pathway guidance. By mandate, all students will have to have gone through career guidance. She pointed out, however, these initiatives have been long in place at EAHS, and each added option only enhances their existing program. Pella also talked about a career advisor consortium, held at Gateway Technical College, where advisors from several high schools in the area meet once a month to review their programs and exchange ideas.

Debbie Davidson, Vice President of Workforce and Economic Development at Gateway Technical College, talked about the initiatives in place at the school that address the needs of employers in the area. She particularly talked about their CNC Boot Camp program, which has been offered to adults for several years, but to entering high school seniors just for the last three years, with great success. Students go to school during the summer for six weeks. Then, during the fall semester, they attend school in the morning and Gateway in the afternoon. In the spring, they split their day by attending school and participating in a paid internship at a local manufacturing facility. At the end of the program, students not only have a high school diploma, but also a Lean Six Sigma Yellow Belt, a Manufacturing Skills Standard Council (MSSC) Safety Certification, 15 Gateway school credits, and six months work experience to put on their resume.

Davidson mentioned that through a collaborative effort, which included Precision Plus, the CNC Boot Camp will be offered at the school’s Elkhorn Campus as of July of 2015.

Kevin Paluch, Vice President of the Geneva National Golf Resort, addressed the shortage of properly trained hospitality/culinary arts employees. Due to the nature and the location of the business, the company generally hires a short-term workforce that may not be best prepared to provide a superior experience for their clients. He also alluded to an earnings threshold that will determine whether the younger generation (less than 25 years of age) chooses to work or stay at home. The incentive to go beyond that threshold depends on their qualifications and ability to perform hospitality and culinary jobs properly. Paluch reiterated the need for schools to expand on this type of training.

Rich Gruber, Vice President of Mercy Health System spoke about what his group has done to address the skills shortage. In an entity that employs about 6,500 people, there are regularly 1,500 jobs to open, and these include a range of occupations, from health care to plumbing to food service. Proactively, the organization has established several programs within the system, such as a residency program for primary care physicians, and certified nurse assistant (CNA) program that works with local high schools and colleges. This year alone, Mercy Health System will have graduated over 900 CNAs.

Gruber also spoke about options for junior high and high school students: “The earlier they are exposed to career choices, the better,” he suggested. Schools must be able to provide tools to explore different careers as early as 6th or 7th grade. “Capturing inquisitive minds is essential,” he added. Gruber made clear, however, this could not happen without collaboration and constant conversation with schools at all levels, as well as with fellow health systems, and observed solutions need to be fueled by creativity and outside-the-box thinking by all the partners involved.

Bob Kopykdlowsi , Principal of Badger High School, then addressed the perception issue experienced by many parents and the community at large. He stated that convincing parents that a 4-year degree may not be the only career path available for their students, presented a hurdle, and he suggested that typically the community does not recognize alternate career paths as viable. His school offers many options for children to explore career opportunities.

Tristan Steiner, a senior at Badger High School, spoke about his experience from a student-perspective. Tristan has always been interested in math and science, but did not know how to apply his interest to a career choice he would not regret later. Beginning in his sophomore year, Tristan was able to get a taste of different careers options by taking targeted classes, which eventually led him to realize that he would like to become an electrical engineer with a focus in renewable energy sources. Tristan also had the opportunity be an intern at Precision Plus, where he was able to experience a number of aspects of the business. Being able to study the design of parts and programs for machines, confirmed the choice he made was valid.

The program then opened up to questions and comments that explored topics such as externships–or teachers going into the field to experience the environment, the importance of schools having advisory committees to drive their curricula, the advantages of going to a 2-year college before joining a 4-year institution, and changing the mindset of the community.


A video of the entire presentation is available below:

Walworth County Economic Development Alliance’s Annual Meeting Honors Outstanding Area Businesses and Outlines Plans for the Next Year

Michael Reader

The 2014 Annual Meeting of the WCEDA (Walworth County Economic Development Alliance, Inc.) took place on Wednesday, November 12, 2014 at the Grand Geneva Resort & Spa. The keynote speaker for the event was William Dougan of Blackthorn Capital Analytic Systems who spoke on competitive strategies based on data science. During the meeting, two 2014 Business Awards were bestowed to Exacto of Sharon, WI (Business of the Year), and Blackthorn Group of Whitewater, WI (Business Innovation). New incoming board members were also inducted.

Walworth County Economic Development Alliance 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 primary focus of the services provided by the WCEDA extends to four different areas of business: retention, expansion, attraction and start-up, which may include plant expansion, business growth, relocation, land and building searches, incentives, market research, diversification, peer networking, small business resources, start-up assistance, workforce development, low interest loans, capital investment, asset acquisition, job fairs and recruitment events.

Precision Plus, located in Walworth County, Wisconsin, is an active member and silver sponsor of the organization and received the organization’s 2013 Working Investment Award.

Click here for more information on Walworth County Economic Development Alliance, Inc.

Precision Plus is an Active Member of the Communities in Which We Live and Operate

Michael Reader

Precision Plus of Elkhorn, Wisconsin, operates on a focused vision based on four pillars: integrity, empowerment, innovation and respect. That is a principle that we apply both internally and externally. We believe that the communities in which we live and operate are an integral part of our operation, and that our participation is a testament to our commitment.

Our officers and directors believe it is important to lead by example. The following represents our involvement with our local and professional communities during September.

Barry Butters, Director of Education and Training is now serving on the Education Committee for the Waukesha Business Alliance. He is part of a subcommittee that is working to update the Education Policy Statement.

Butters is also serving as the Secretary for the Elkhorn Economic Development Alliance (EEDA). The EEDA is forming as an LLC with Memorandum of Understandings with the City of Elkhorn and the Walworth County Economic Development Alliance (WCEDA). The group will be the first response team working with businesses relocating to our community.

Bill Wells, Director of Sales and Engineering and Mike Reader, President and CEO, are both part of the committee that is organizing the next Precision Machine Technology Show (PTMS) promoted by both Gardner Business Media and the PMPA. The show is scheduled for April 21-23 in Columbus, Ohio.

Jeff Lemmermann, CFO and CIO, presented on the subject of securing municipal information before the Illinois Municipal League of Chicago on September 20, during their 2014 annual conference at the Chicago Hilton.

Mike Reader, President and CEO, accepted an invitation by Frank Habib, Vice President of Development at Milwaukee School of Engineering  (MSOE) to join their Corporate Board of Directors.

 

Bill Wells, Director of Sales and Engineering, coordinated a golf outing for the Wisconsin Chapter of the PMPA. The event took place at Lake Lawn Resort and was attended by eighty-eight business professionals.

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.

Precision Plus Recognized with the Walworth County Economic Development Association’s 2013 Workforce Investment Award

Michael Reader

Barry Butters and Mike Reader of Precision Plus Receive the Workforce Investment Award from
Joe Cardiff, Board Member
for the Walworth County Economic Development Association’s Workforce Development Committee

During this year’s Walworth County Economic Development Association’s (WCEDA) Annual Meeting, which took place on Tuesday, November 5th at the Grand Geneva Resort, Precision Plus received the organization’s 2013 Workforce Investment Award.

Mike Reader, President of Precision Plus and Barry Butters, its Director of Education and Outreach, were at hand to receive the award from  Joe Cardiff, WCEDA’s Board Member representing the Workforce Development Committee.

Precision Plus was recognized for its initiatives in education by sponsoring several manufacturing programs, including plant tours, manufacturing panels and establishing an internship program while promoting the importance of careers in manufacturing.

Mike Reader credits the Precision Plus’ team of high skilled professionals for their continued support and active participation in making these initiatives possible.

Manufacturing Day Highlights from Precision Plus’s Day-Long Event On October 4, 2013

Michael Reader

Nearly one hundred visitors, the majority area high school students, toured Precision Plus’s facilities on October 4, 2013, to celebrate National Manufacturing Day, a nationwide initiative.

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The purpose of the open house and plant tour was to create awareness about the possibilities that are available with careers in manufacturing.  The event featured plant tours of four area manufacturing facilities: MedPlast, Certified Power, Inc., Hudapack Metal Treating, Inc., as well as Precision Plus’s.  The students also toured Gateway Technical College.  The event was sponsored by Dream It Do It Wisconsin, the Walworth County Economic Development Alliance, Inc., and Elkhorn Area High School.

Precision Plus wishes to thank all attendees  and our great staff for engaging with the students to answer their questions.  We look forward to a new generation of talent in manufacturing!

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?