BY ANNE STANTON
TRAVERSE CITY — Darrell Rogers was in Central Lake this week on an educational road show of sorts, training a classroom of "lean champions" at Armor Express.
Those 10 champions will learn how the company can manufacture bullet proof vests more efficiently. Their job is to go back and deliver the lean message to change every mind set at every level, said Paul Hresko, the company's human resource director.
"It's creating a different culture in the plant," Hresko said. "They will take what they learn and implement new processes and plant layouts and procedures."
Rogers is an industry instructor for Northwestern Michigan College's Training and Research Department, which offers customized training to area companies. Staffers instruct employees on everything from leadership and team building to running new machinery.
The department just received NMC board approval to provide training to five regional companies that plan to create 62 new jobs in the next three years, said Rich Wolin, director of training.
The companies include Armor Express, Century Extrusion in Traverse City, Moran Iron Works in Onaway, Precision Edge Surgical Products in Boyne City, and Shoreline Fruit in Traverse City, Wolin said,
The jobs are part of Michigan New Jobs Training, a state program that allows companies to divert money from state withholding taxes toward employee training. The companies must first hire the employee and pay them at least $12.59 an hour, Wolin said.
The department's profitability fluctuates from year to year, but the department breaks even over the long run, Wolin said.
The department's purpose is to help area companies become globally competitive, Wolin said.
"The businesses create the jobs," he said. "We're there to help the new employees become more effective."
Besides training employees, the department also helps companies connect to state and federal training programs. The department has helped more than 200 organizations since its inception in 1986, including 32 companies last year, Wolin said.