Posted by Dawn Marie Bailey
Since 2012, Manufacturing Day has celebrated modern manufacturing to inspire the future U.S. workforce.
In the Baldrige community, in alignment with the Baldrige mission to improve the competitiveness and performance of U.S. organizations for the benefit of all U.S. residents, this means celebrating the connection of schools and industry to provide a forum for manufacturers to address their collective challenges, including connecting with future generations and addressing skilled labor shortages.
In Garland, Texas, Baldrige Award recipient KARLEE recently partnered with its local and regional communities to do just that. The Garland Chamber of Commerce, Garland Independent School District (GISD), Dallas County Community College District (DCCCD), and local businesses came together to promote Manufacturing Day with a kick-off breakfast and tours of KARLEE throughout the day for students, families, and friends. KARLEE is a woman-owned, contract manufacturer of precision sheet metal and machined components for the communications, defense, aerospace, commercial goods, and medical equipment industries.
Said Jo Ann Brumit, CEO of KARLEE, “Manufacturing is an exciting and valued industry producing valuable career opportunities in America.” The biggest learning that she hopes the students and visitors took away from the experience was the value, today and tomorrow, of manufacturing itself; “The skilled professions in manufacturing provide great income using both your hands and mind; it is not a low-skilled profession. Many of our leaders have been developed and grown from within KARLEE, thus there are great advancement opportunities.”
To highlight the importance of manufacturing to the U.S. economy and showcase the jobs available, KARLEE’s Customer Service Team presented information about the company to visitors and answered questions. Brumit said such Q&A sessions allowed the manufacturer to understand students’ and visitors’ interests so that department tours (e.g., welding, machine shop, engineering) could be customized.
Partnerships between industry and education are not new in Garland. Per the Chamber of Commerce, Garland has a very large manufacturing base, with more than 375 manufacturing companies covering food; textiles and apparel; paper and cardboard; chemicals, plastics, and rubber; stone, clay, and ceramics; and metal. In 2006, the Dallas County Manufacturing Association (DCMA) was formed through the Garland Chamber to act as a liaison between local employers and educational institutions to facilitate training and continued education for a sustainable, qualified workforce. DCMA now has 61 companies that meet monthly to focus on human resources, safety, and quality.
A statement from the Garland Chamber reads, “It is an honor to single out the contribution of KARLEE for its participation in our celebration of National Manufacturing Day. As a long-standing member of the community and Chamber as well as a founding member of the [DCMA], KARLEE has a heritage of leading the way in promoting the importance of manufacturing and providing students with a pathway into manufacturing careers. The tours, sponsored by KARLEE, provided a wonderful example of how manufacturing has evolved into a sought-after place to build a lifetime endeavor. Changing attitudes about the opportunities provided by our many manufacturing companies is a prime mission of the celebration. All those who participated in the tours came away with a fresh, positive view. This is key to the mission of building the economy of Garland.”
Partnering with the Chamber and the DCMA is the Dallas County Community College District (DCCCD), which since 2013 has been awarded more than $1.8 million in grants from the W.W. Caruth, Jr. Foundation to train students in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics careers. In addition, more than $1.8 million of grant-funded training has also been provided through DCMA to Richland College, also a Baldrige Award recipient and part of the DCCCD, to educate employees of regional companies. Employees take classes in Outlook; business writing; heating, ventilating, and air conditioning (HVAC); root cause analysis; and manufacturing process and production (certified production technician). As part of the Manufacturing Day event, several of the DCCCD community colleges, including Eastfield College and Richland College, toured KARLEE. KARLEE is a resource for DCCCD campuses in providing tours and work opportunities after graduation.
For the past 20 years, KARLEE has also mentored local Garland Independent School District (GISD) elementary schools and hosts elementary through high school tours with manager Q&A sessions. To provide work experience for special needs students, KARLEE partners with GISD and its Pathfinder Achievement Center and Project Search teams. Special needs students are accompanied by their job coach and perform tasks that teach job skill development at KARLEE throughout the school year.
In support of student education, Brumit said, “KARLEE understands that to have a developed and high-performing workforce, we have to engage the future generations today.”
And the greatest value for participating in Manufacturing Day, Brumit said, was “sharing our passion for manufacturing with the future-generation workforce, showcasing American manufacturing, and highlighting our skills.”
She added that several students who were part of their schools’ engineering programs and who have previously toured with KARLEE are now employed as engineers at local high-tech firms. KARLEE also hires local GISD and DCCCD students from skills development programs.