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6 Tri-County Business Journal • July/August 2011


Continued from page 1 One person knowledgeable of local

business training trends is Pete Bed- nar, director of Lakeland Community College’s Center for Business and Industry. The center subcontracts the services of community experts to pro- vide customized, on-site programs for area businesses. Services include a myriad of training opportunities in technical, software, soft skills and safety areas. “With the Baby Boomers retiring,

the No. 1 question businesses are asking is how to find good people,” Bednar says. A shortage of skilled workers is

prompting small businesses to teach employees diverse skills such as work ethics, conflict-solving techniques, teamwork and operation efficiency. Jim Allen, CEO of Mold Master,

a Mentor manufacturer of injection molds, wax patterns and assembly for jet engine blades, recently con- tracted training for his company’s 200 employees through Lakeland to improve worker retention. In the past year, only 90 employees remain out of 200 hired. Admittedly, it was due to improper screening and training, and a lack of aptitude, skill level and patience that employees need. “Our sales point was doing well, but our cost point was a huge burden due to the expense of hiring and training new employees,” Allen says. One part of the new training is

designed to eliminate waste and en- hance continuous improvement by retraining the workforce and instilling ongoing thought processes supported by regular training events and ensur- ing employees have everything they need to work efficiently. An aspect of the training is the 6-S program, a guide to keep the work environment neat, clean and organized. The six are sort, stabilize, shine, standardize, sus- tain and safety. Allen is confident this continuous-training model will turn things around as he sees improve- ment already, measurable in labor


Training Trends

Matthew Seitz, market- ing manager of Mayfield Village-based ERC, Ohio’s largest human resources organization, reports that its research and membership depart- ment has identified a few local, small-business training trends:

Companies are tapping into internal resources by using top performers and subject- matter experts as mentors and in-house trainers.

Individualized development is held to a higher degree at smaller businesses, as op- posed to larger ones, where training is more customized and personalized. It’s more highly integrated and tied to an employee’s performance to meet individual needs.

Because employees of a small business are asked to wear many hats, companies offer them stretch assign- ments and new responsibili- ties to enhance personal and professional growth. For example, an employer may encourage an employee to take part in an outside asso- ciation’s mentoring program by paying the employee’s membership dues.


Above: Grand Rock employee Felipe Estrada works under the watchful eye of General Manager Haris Tokalic, left, and Operations Manager Ryan Arth, son of owner Jerry Arth. Left: Super- visor Tom Kern, left, has worked with Mold Masters owner Jim Allen to implement employee training with the help of Lakeland Community College.

costs vs. productivity. Grand Rock, a Painesville maker

of after-market truck exhaust parts, is another company that has used non- credit training opportunities through Lakeland’s Center for Business and Industry. President Jerry Arth says his 50 employees took part in the TOPS Program (team-oriented prob- lem solving) selected specifically for his company’s business environ- ment. Since last year, Grand Rock has

shipped 20 percent more product with the same number of employees by re- ducing waste and scrap. “Training is so crucial for Amer-

ica to compete with the rest of the world,” Arth says, adding he believes the automotive industry built the U.S. economy and that manufacturing of raw materials into a finished product is a vital element. “You can only sell so many services, i.e. healthcare, in- surance or financial services, if you

have people to pay for them.” The state planned to offer funding

for the training, but the idea dissolved after Grand Rock signed up for the training. Still, it’s been a good invest- ment in his company’s productivity outcome, Arth says.

Kay Bryson is a Painesville-based freelance writer who has written for the Plain Dealer, the News-Herald and many other publications.


Tips to launching your employee training program

continued from page 1

3 Clarify connections. Some employees may feel that the training they’re receiving isn’t relevant to their job. It’s important to help them understand the connec- tion early on so they don’t view the training sessions as a waste of valuable time. Employees should see the training as an important addition to their professional portfo- lios. Award people with completion certificates at the end of the program.

2 Make it ongoing. Don’t limit training solely to new employees. Or- ganized, ongoing training programs will maintain all employees’ skill levels and continually mo- tivate them to grow and improve professionally.

1 Measure results. Without measurable results, it’s almost impos- sible to view training as anything but an expense. Decide how you’re going to obtain an acceptable rate of return on your investment. Determine what kind of growth or other measure is a reasonable result of the training you provide. You’ll have an easier time budgeting funds for future training if you can demon- strate concrete results.

— Dun & Bradstreet Credibility Corp.

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