HOERBIGER Corporation of America, Inc. (HCA) is the first company in Broward County and one of the first in the state to take advantage of a WorkForce One grant giving customized training for the development of “C” level machinists. Working together with WorkForce One and other employment agencies in the local area, HCA is using this resource to bring new machinists into the organization and more manufacturing jobs into Florida’s economy.
As HCA continues to grow and develop as a company, finding qualified machinists has been challenging. “We struggle to find good people who can work as machinists, CNC programmers, draftsmen, and in maintenance and methods,” said Hannes Hunschofsky, Head of Production Division Executive Vice President Global Operations. “Florida is not known for manufacturing, which makes it more difficult to find employees who are already qualified in these fields. This WorkForce One program has enabled us to recruit people who want to change careers and people who want change within their careers.”
The first training class of twelve began in July, after HCA recruited and reviewed about 400 applicants. Many of those interested in the program are U.S. Veterans looking to find quality employment. HOERBIGER purposely looked for U.S. Veterans who might be interested in this unique opportunity. Seven out of the 12 new trainees are U.S. Veterans.
“We have a desire to provide a new career for our country’s military men and women,” said David Gonzalez, HOERBIGER Human Resource Manager. “Veterans are experienced at doing what it takes to get the job done under any circumstance. Many already have basic knowledge in mechanical and technical fields.
“HOERBIGER is willing to invest in me getting into a brand new career and I’m happy for this opportunity,” said Deborah Quon, a Fort Lauderdale resident. She spent 20 years serving in the U.S. Navy and then as a systems analyst for the U.S. government. “I am all for things made in America. The U.S. will make the best products and HOERBIGER does things the ISO way. Things made here are of a high quality.”
HOERBIGER hired Machining Training Solutions (MTS), the leading software provider of training for CNC manufacturing companies and educational institutions. Al Stimac, President of MTS, discovered the software to conduct apprentice training and perfected it. Training classes were held at an HCA conference room during Phase One of the training. The committed trainees studied with the MTS trainers without pay for the first two weeks of the course. This fast-track intense training, performed on computer simulators, is designed to produce Level “C” machinists who can quickly contribute to our production capacity. Learning on computers also avoids costly and dangerous mistakes.
Once the trainees move onto the shop floor as paid employees during Phase Two, they continue training for the next eight weeks with the instructors through on-site and remote support. The following four months of Phase Three include cross-training and a customized career blue-print, along with continued follow up from the trainers and HCA supervisors. At the conclusion of the six month training program, trainees are expected to have the skills of a Level “B” machinist.
Jeff Liebman, a trainee from Pompano Beach, spent 24 years as a U.S. Air Force pilot and as an instructor for the Air Force. “I’ve always had a passion for machining and manufacturing,” he said. “CNC blows your mind with the technology now available. What HOERBIGER has offered us is blessing. I had interviewed with other companies, but they all wanted 3-5 years of experience. I loved that HOERBIGER was looking for people who don’t have the experience but have the aptitude to learn new things. I want to learn more and diversify. I want a job I will look forward to going to every morning.”
“We are in a position utilizing this unique training program to make you a machinist expeditiously,” Hunschofsky said. “We are looking for Level A and B machinists and now can grow our own from our Level C machinists. We also offer the opportunity to advance on a career path. Employees are not held exclusively to be a machinist. We offer a career path for those who choose to expand their knowledge and expertise. Machinists can become supervisors, managers, or plant managers. To be a successful trainee, you just need basic knowledge, passion and enthusiasm to start a new career.”
In addition to good pay as a starting machinist, HOERBIGER provides health insurance including vision and dental, Profit Sharing and 401K, vacation and sick pay, and more. “Every year we conduct employee studies which show that we are much better rated than most in the manufacturing industry,” Hunschofsky explained. “The feedback we receive is that our employees are very happy here.”
“The smokestack image is gone, “Hunschofsky said. “Manufacturing is now high tech. Florida is moving in the right direction, focusing more on how this industry can help grow jobs and the economy. Creating one manufacturing job has a multiplier effect by generating the need for supporting jobs in other industries and suppliers. The industry is getting the word out, starting in the high schools, that manufacturing provides a really great career.”
HCA’s newest training program is off to a very successful start and the company is already making plans to bring in a second training class this fall. It’s a winning situation for the newly employed trainees, for HOERBIGER, and for the Florida economy.