Categories
Member Manufacturers

Employee support is a key factor in Commercial Metal Forming’s 100-year legacy

Recently, Commercial Metal Forming in Youngstown celebrated a milestone – the company’s 100th birthday.

 

In its many moving parts pushing toward success, one of the key mechanisms is the team.

 

“Our success is only going to happen based on how we help our entire organization be successful,” said Bob Messaros, president and CEO.

 

Company leaders understand the values employees bring to the table, he added, which is why CMF has been around for a century.

 

The Cushwa family started the company, which evolved over time to offer a variety of products in the last 100 years, Messaros said.

Bob Messaros and Mike Conglose of CMF stand in front of a map.
Bob Messaros, left, president and CEO of Commercial Metal Forming, and Mike Conglose, vice president of operations, both say the Youngstown business has seen success for a century because of its focus on employees.

Started in the roaring ‘20s as Commercial Shearing and Stamping, CMF now manufactures tank heads and accessories for the pressure vessel tank industry.

 

There are about 85 hourly and salaried employees locally.

 

Rounding out the company are facilities in Orange County, Calif., and Saginaw, Texas.

 

Overall, CMF has 155 employees.

Developing talent

 

Attributing to CMF’s lasting power is the loyal employees.

 

“There’s a number of employees who have been here for a significant amount of time,” said Mike Conglose, vice president of operations.

 

Many people “have endured a lot,” including ownership changes and expectations in response to shifts in the economy, most recently in the 2009 downturn.

 

As the company transitioned from 2009 forward, there was a focus on how important each person, whether in sales, production or management, is, both Messaros and Conglose said.

 

“When you look at the contribution from a lot of the people who have been here not only an extended period of time, but also the new people we’ve brought on board… I think that’s the core of how and why we’ve endured the number of years we have endured,” Conglose said.

Started in the 1920s, Commercial Metal Forming in Youngstown has around 85 employees. CMF manufactures tank heads and accessories, which are supplied around the world.

People are encouraged to work in other departments, adding to a true team effort. People aren’t pigeonholed into one area.

 

“You have to look at your own talent first and try to develop that,” Messaros said. “It’s our responsibility to make sure we are looking as deep in the organization as possible.”

 

There’s an aspect of low turnover at CMF, even throughout new ownership transitions and economic downturns.

Building a team

 

It’s a level of trust, Messaros said. People have brought their kids to work in various disciplines within the company.

 

An element to that level of trust is from leadership working with and listening to employees.

 

Conglose said the organization is a host to talented people who have worked with CMF for decades.

 

When newer employees come on board, their fresh ideas are welcomed and incorporated.

 

“They blend in and fit extremely well with the people who have been here,” Conglose said.

 

Categories
Faces of Manufacturing

Work ethic is key for Clark Dietrich employee

In the massive ClarkDietrich facility in Vienna, chances are most employees know and love Gordana Davis.

 

She just celebrated her second year with the company, and has been in manufacturing for 24.

 

“I’ve been working all my life,” Davis said. “I’m all about working and getting the job done.”

ClarkDietrich employee Gordana Davis stands in the Vienna facility.
Gordana Davis has worked with ClarkDietrich for two years, but has been in manufacturing for 24. Her commitment to her career and the industry are from a team-mentality of showing up to work to complete a task.

Born in Bosnia, Davis came to the United States in 1975 when she was 14, not speaking any English.

 

She went to school and learned the language from the foundations of ABCs and sounds.

 

In 1983, Davis got married to an American man. Together, they had three children.

 

Throughout her time building a life in the States, Davis worked as a cashier for 13 years before she headed to manufacturing.

 

Thinking about the start of her manufacturing career, Davis said: “I remember going home the first day, I couldn’t even walk up the steps.”

 

From there, she has learned every role in the company she could, training thousands of people during her time in the manufacturing industry.

 

“Everybody put trust in me.”

 

Davis loves the physical labor that goes along with overseeing her work, keeping schedule to her tasks. “I like the fast-pace” environment of the industry, she said.

 

It wasn’t long before Davis learned every role in the company she could, training thousands of people over the years.

 

Davis has only called off once — one day — in more than two decades.

 

“It’s all about commitment,” she said. “You need to be here to produce the job so we don’t lose manufacturing.”

 

ClarkDietrich is a newer member of the Mahoning Valley Manufacturers Coalition.

Categories
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.

Categories
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
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.”

Categories
Member Manufacturers

Beatitude House teens tour Brilex to learn about manufacturing job opportunities

While Brilex Industries works to design and build specialized heavy equipment for customers around the world, the local advanced manufacturer also likes to spark interest in manufacturing careers.

 

That was the case when 13 teens from the Beatitude House toured their facility.

Brilex worker shows kids the equipment
Brilex machine shop manager Jason Jones explains what he does to a group of kids from Beatitude House, hoping to spark their interest in a future career in manufacturing.

The nonprofit reached out to Mahoning Valley Manufacturing Coalition to set up a series of tours of trade and manufacturing facilities as part of its summer program for juveniles.

 

Through education and safe living, the Beatitude House helps disadvantaged women and children.

 

MVMC is a network of valley manufacturers who work together to create a skilled workforce by a number of ways, including raising awareness of different types of work in manufacturing, which can lead to higher wages. Skills are also assessed for employees, both current and future.

 

Brilex opened its doors to give the teens, between the seventh and 12th grades, a glimpse at what it means to work in a manufacturing position.

 

Opening their eyes to today’s manufacturing jobs

 

“So many young folks, and their parents, have a misconception that manufacturing is dark and dirty work,” Brilex plant manager Ryan Engelhardt, said. “Through tours, youths can see different aspects of work done in the field, and in this case, Brilex.”

 

group shot from Beatitude House kids
Tours like the one Brilex hosted with Beatitude House enables teens to see the possibilities that exist with careers in advanced manufacturing.

Speaking on a local level, tours allow for young people to see various types of work done here in the Mahoning Valley, said Katie Denno, marketing manager for Brilex.

 

As manufacturers hold tours, more interest is generated in the field, Engelhardt said. That in turn creates a “potential pool” of people who are likely to look into the field when they are ready for employment.

 

Partnering with MVMC, Jennifer Battaglia, child wellness coordinator for The Beatitude House, said the Brilex tour showed the kids different employees, ranging from welders to machinists to engineers, work together in the same building.

 

The summer program works to show the kids that college doesn’t have to be the only option they have after graduating high school.

 

“It was important to us that they were able to experience what it could like to go to a trade school, and the jobs they would be doing in manufacturing if they choose that path,” Battaglia said.

 

Tours were also held at Youngstown State University and Eastern Gateway Community College, which will lead to conversations with the teens throughout the school year about what they would like to pursue, Battaglia said.

Categories
Faces of Manufacturing

Faces of Manufacturing – Sugeily Melendez

Sugeily Melendez is a mom by day and packer at a Mahoning Valley aluminum extrusion company by night. She has worked at Pennex Aluminum in Leetonia for just under two years and is already climbing the “aluminum ladder.”

Her career with Pennex began as a forklift operator. She has since moved to her current position as packer and is in training to become a loader. Part of her drive to keep moving forward comes from her desire to dispel stereotypes of what women “can’t do.”

melendez at Pennex
Sugeily Melendez of Youngstown is a single mother who found a rewarding career in manufacturing that offers the flexibility and clean environment she was looking for.

“I feel I’m more competitive than some of the men and I’m always trying to set goals to surpass my trainers and move past stereotypes of what women can’t do. Anyone can be successful here when they show up with a good attitude and the willingness to learn something new,” she said.

Single mom derives motivation from her kids

Her primary motivation, however, comes from her children. Melendez is a single mother of three. She loves the overnight shift because it allows her the flexibility to maintain a successful work-life balance.

“Third shift is perfect for me as a single parent. I spend time with my kids and get them ready for bed at their grandma’s or their dad’s before I head to work and then I’m home in the morning to get them ready for school. While they’re in school, I nap and then we do it all over again,” said Melendez.

Family is a part of the core values at Pennex, she described.

“The atmosphere here is like one big family. They’re also very flexible when it comes to sick kids and doctor appointments,” she added.

melendez working
In less than 2 years, Melendez has already advanced multiple times at Pennex, currently working in the shipping department on the 3rd shift.

In addition to schedule flexibility and a welcoming workforce, Melendez, of Youngstown, said Pennex Aluminum also offers a safe and clean work environment.

“I just came off of a 10-hour shift and I’m still clean. I can rock my nails and I’ve never broken one. This is not a dirty, dusty place. It is a clean and healthy place to work,” said Melendez.

Pennex Aluminum is a member of Mahoning Valley Manufacturers Coalition.

Pennex and many other local manufacturers are currently looking for dedicated individuals to join their teams. On-the-job training is available and no experience is required. Interested applicants for Pennex can explore openings here.

Categories
Media Coverage

Business Journal Showcases Pennex in Brain Gain Navigators Segment

Pennex Aluminum is the latest MVMC member to be featured in a Business Journal Brain Gain Navigators segment. The live Q&A with area high school students took place May 5.

Navigators screen grab
Pennex Aluminum of Leetonia was featured May 5, 2021 in a Brain Gain Navigators segment. Jera Daye, recruiting specialist, provided a detailed look at the various career path options available.

Click here for a replay of the entire segment and a quick 2-minute video from Pennex’s Leetonia, Ohio operations.

Mahoning Valley Manufacturers Coalition is among the title sponsors of Business Journal Brain Gain, a year-long forum for showcasing the various career opportunities available to young people in the Mahoning Valley.