Traverse City Record-Eagle

August 23, 2013

Demand for machinists strong

BY JANICE BENSON Special to the Record-Eagle
Traverse City Record-Eagle

---- — KALKASKA — Wayne Wire Cloth Products is putting people to work in northern Michigan with the assistance of a job training program that helps machinists, welders and other production-level staff get real on-the-job experience.

The company has hired 13 new employees in the last year at it’s facility in Kalkaska, where the company manufactures custom filtration components using specialty wire cloth, perforated metal and expanded metal materials.

Company officials said a partnership with Michigan Works! utilizes a program called On the Job Training, which reimburses an employer a portion of an employee’s wages during training. The program offers on-site training for machinists and other manufacturing positions. The partnership is realizing success even though Michigan Works! had to close its Kalkaska service center recently due to budget constraints.

“We’ve partnered with Michigan Works! for 13 years and utilized several of their services for both our Kalkaska and Hillman locations,” said Steve Waugh, chief operating officer for the company. “They’ve been a great resource and have helped us find and attract skilled workers that meet our unique needs.”

The company supplies product to the aerospace, automotive, HVAC, and commercial OEM industries since 1943. Michigan Works! assisted Wayne Wire with several of those new hires.

Officials said the partnership highlights a continued demand for skilled workers in the manufacturing sector.

“There is a real shortage of skilled machinists and toolmakers in our region and we decided that if we can’t find them, we’ll have to help develop those skills on our own,” said Waugh.

Michigan Works! helped them make the connections to help the company develop their own Toolmaker Apprenticeship Program, which will train future machinists and toolmakers, right at the company. Terry Vandercook, business liaison for NW Michigan Works!, worked closely with the company throughout the last year and helped them with their hiring needs.

In a separate endeavor, Michigan Works! also helped organize a machinist training class in cooperation with Northwestern Michigan College. Students in the class toured companies that do machining in the area and Wayne Wire opened their doors to the 30-plus students.

“We are in the process of getting certified through the Department of Labor and we already have three employees that have expressed an interest in the program,” said Waugh.