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Member Manufacturers

Immersive safety program kicks off at ClarkDietrich

Vienna is home to the largest manufacturer of cold-formed steel in North America.

 

ClarkDietrich, a new member of the Mahoning Valley Manufacturers Coalition, is that manufacturer.

 

It has three locations within 10 minutes of each other, the largest situated on Ridge Road in Vienna Township, with 150 employees.

 

The other two locations are in Warren: Warren East on North River Road with 85 employees and CDH on Phoenix Road with 10 employees.

 

Nationwide, there are 1,500 employees in 14 plants.

 

ClarkDietrich’s Vienna location is also the largest in the company, Tina Parker, senior human resources business partner, said.

 

It is about 350,000 square feet and houses 35 roll forming machines, a machine shop and maintenance team with electricians and machinists who keep the equipment operating.

 

A shipping department organizes all of the logistics of the steel onto trucks, Parker said.

Safety first

When employees walk through the entrance at the Vienna location, they are instantly reminded of best safety practices.

A bright dojo was recently added to the training process.

 

Dojos are designated spaces for immersive learning.

A brightly colored training dojo is set up at ClarkDietrich in Vienna.
As employees enter the entrance at ClarkDietrich in Vienna, they are greeted by a mannequin donning personal protection equipment in a bright hallway designed to help new hires learn safety.

“Our parent company (CWBS-MISA Inc.) wanted us to spearhead this type of interactive safety exhibit to show new hires the right way” to lift and use different machines, Parker said.

Getting to work

Leading the dojo project were plant supervisor Chris Plant and Alex Hertzer, plant superintendent.

 

Hertzer connected various departments for the “very interactive, very bright” learning space, Parker said.

 

The concept, Hertzer said, is “overstimulation” from a safety standpoint. That’s why it’s bright with green floors and bright lighting, and hands-on.

 

“It was a really great effort by the team – supervisors, operators, maintenance. It was fun to see it all come together,” Parker said.

How it works

The dojo gives new employees — some of whom may never have worked in a hands-on, manufacturing discipline — a first glimpse at manufacturing, making the industry less intimidating.

New hires are trained at ClarkDietrich in the training dojo.
Ken VonBergen, safety manager, leads new employees on a tour at ClarkDietrich in Vienna. The group spent some time in the safety dojo – a designated area for immersive learning.

“It shows someone who is maybe a spatial learner rather than a textbook learner,” Hertzer said.

 

A mannequin wearing personal protective equipment greets employees, who then move down the hallway, which is divided into sections.

 

“It’s nice because they’re not practicing on necessarily real machinery” that could be dangerous, Parker said.

 

Miniature cranes and tow motors are part of the experience. Employees also learn the correct way to lift heavy objects.

Miniature items are used to help train new employees at ClarkDietrich in Vienna.
Models of how to properly move about the ClarkDietrich facility in Vienna help new hires, as well as remind current employees, use best practices to prevent injuries.

Another dojo on the way

During pre-shift meetings, many employees will take time to stretch to limber up for the constant bending and stooping they’ll do throughout their day, Parker said.

 

“Stretching before they start their shifts really helps. We really encourage them to participate in the pre-shift meetings, the stretching activities in particular,” Parker said.

 

Next, another dojo is in its infancy stages, but it will focus on another aspect, Hertzer said.

 

An operations/productions dojo will be added to the plant in the near future.

 

It will show how to gauge tooling, and “other simple concepts” that aren’t necessarily second nature to a new employee jumping into the industry, he said.

 

ClarkDietrich is a newer member of MVMC.

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Uncategorized

Workshop offered to new and experienced trainers

Do you have employees who help train new hires?

 

Or maybe you have some individuals who would shine in an on-the-job training role?

 

A new course has been developed that will help sharpen the communication skills needed to instruct trainees.

 

The NIMS® Mentor Workshop is a six-session, six-week virtual program that results with an On-The-Job Trainer certification. Seasoned mentors are also encouraged to take part as a refresher course.

 

The workshop combines online learning modules, virtual group coaching sessions and on-the-job practice.

 

Starting the week of Sept. 27, the next round of the workshop will be offered.

Learning curve

 

During a recent pilot run, Rebecca Peddicord, training coordinator with Pennex Aluminum Company, said she took away a lot of useful information.

 

I definitely learned a lot from this program, including the correct steps on how to train someone,” Peddicord said.

 

Learning wasn’t limited to training.

 

Peddicord said she learned about her style of communication, “such as how others may perceive me and how I communicate,” she said.

 

Workers from different companies were involved in the course, which was once a week through Zoom.

 

Together, participants discussed their strengths and areas they struggle, “which helped us relate to one another,” Peddicord said.

 

Sign up now

 

Everyone going through the program will build and improve their guiding skills through three areas: a methodology for structuring training; communication best practices; and a coaching continuum to help learners advance their mentoring skills.

 

Cost of the workshop is $1,495 per participant. There is a discount available for MVMC members.

 

For more information, contact Sue Watson at 330-307-3399 or sue@mahoningvalleymfg.com.

 

NIMS is a nonprofit organization dedicated to providing industry-developed and validated standards to help organizations increase performance of the manufacturing workforce.

Categories
Member Manufacturers

Hubbard company reaching for stars after expansion

Ellwood Aluminum in Hubbard is in a big start-up phase.

 

The manufacturer produces large-diameter aluminum ingot and billet, rectangular slab, and cast plates.

 

Following a 72,000-square-foot expansion last year, the facility covers 105,000 square feet.

 

The century-old, family-owned company melts down metal to form a 94,000-pound aluminum slab, human resources and safety specialist Hank Stull said.

 

“You don’t realize how big the slabs are until you see them,” he said.

 

The metal slabs are purchased by other companies, including Boeing and SpaceX, to be formed into a new part.

An Ellwood Aluminum employee monitors molten aluminum.
An employee with Ellwood Aluminum in Hubbard monitors molten aluminum, which will be formed into a large slab. Following a 72,000-square-foot expansion last year, its facility covers 105,000 square feet.

Looking to grow

There are currently 10 salaried people and 25 hourly, working two shifts. The goal is to grow the hourly positions.

 

“I need to double what I have now,” Stull said.

 

Ellwood Aluminum is among the newest member manufacturers of Mahoning Valley Manufacturers Coalition. They have been working together to bring more people on board at the facility, as well as with help with online promotion with social media, Stull said. The collaboration with MVMC helps lead people to the plant, Stall said.

 

A second round of WorkAdvance, also with MVMC, is being implemented. Earlier this year, three candidates were hired out of the program.

 

WorkAdvance offers a five-week training program to the candidates specific to Ellwood Aluminum’s various roles.

 

This time around, Stull hopes to see 10 candidates.

Women joining the force

 

Ellwood Aluminum welcomes women to work, too.

 

Out of the 25 hourly employees, seven are women who worked up the ranks, Stull said.

 

“They didn’t have aluminum experience, but they all serve in key rolls now,” he said, adding they moved up from casting operator into their roles, which include control room and saw operators. “It happened pretty organically.”

 

While the company continues its path in the aluminum industry and create ways to hire new employees, Stull feels the expansion and upcoming projects are good signs of what’s to come.

 

“I think we’re headed in the right direction,” he said.

Categories
Faces of Manufacturing

ClarkDietrich supervisor works way up ranks

Michael Fountain, production supervisor at ClarkDietrich in Vienna, has worked his way up the ranks within the company during his 11 years.

 

He first started in the corner bead department, the fastest-pace area of the facility, as a temp employee.

 

“I stuck my nose to the grindstone and kept at it,” Fountain said.

 

He ultimately was offered a permanent position, becoming a roll form operator for nearly six years.

 

Then, Fountain transitioned to shipping for four and a half years before taking on his current role.

michael fountain in forklift
Production Supervisor Michael Fountain worked his way up at ClarkDietrich in Vienna over his 11 years there.

New beginnings

Coming to ClarkDietrich was a career change for Fountain.

 

Working at Northside Hospital in environmental services prior to joining ClarkDietrich, Fountain was enlisted in the United States Army before that.

 

While employed at the hospital, Fountain was hopeful of a long-term relationship with Northside.

 

“I was looking to move up there,” which didn’t end up happening as the hospital was purchased, and some layoffs started to happen.

 

Fountain made it through a few waves of pink slips, but ultimately was laid off.

 

Through temp agencies, Fountain bounced around. When the call from ClarkDietrich happened, he told his wife he would hold off. Finally talking with the agency, he was asked if he would travel, and how far.

 

“I asked how far, and they replied, ‘to Trumbull County,’” Fountain recalled, responding: “I’m on my way.”

 

He hasn’t looked back.

Leading by example

 

During the interview process for production supervisor, Fountain was asked what his approach to being a supervisor would be.

 

“I had this big, grand answer” that was eventually summarized by the interviewer, Fountain said.

 

His approach is best said in three words: By your side.

 

“That’s how I like to lead. It’s not in front of my employees or behind them, but right by their side,” Fountain said. “If there’s an issue, I like to be right there next to them to figure it out together.”

 

There’s a side-by-side approach day in and day out at ClarkDietrich company-wide, Fountain said.

Finding a balance

 

Through his manufacturing career, he’s worked various shifts to best support his family, and each time, ClarkDietrich has valued his decisions, Fountain said.

 

When he’s had to take time off due to family deaths or sickness, his colleagues have reached out to check in on him, not to pressure him into coming back to work.

 

“They were making sure I was taking time to recover properly,” Fountain said.

 

It ranged from his team he supervises to facility administration and management.

 

For someone considering a career change or coming out of high school and not sure what to do with their life, Fountain said ‘look into manufacturing.’

 

“Get out of your own way,” he said. “Just jump. You’ll never know if you can fly or not unless you jump.”

 

When you jump and you start to fall instead of soar, Fountain said chances are, someone will be there to catch you and lift you up where you need to be.

 

“That’s a very positive thing I experience every day.”