Chamber Chat - Conveyor Technologies

Jul 01

By Meg Moss


A recent Gallup study found that only 47 percent of American workers say they are completely satisfied with their jobs. A different MarketTools study found that 21 percent of employees applied to another job in the past six months. Clearly, many in the workforce recognize the improved labor market and are considering the next step in their career.


For employers, the tight labor environment means doing things differently – not only to attract good people but, more importantly, get those good people to stay with them.


Central Carolina Community College (CCCC) recently publicized their new comprehensive training partnership with Conveyor Technologies, a Sanford-based company that is a four-fold operation in the manufacturing, sales, installation, and service of automated conveyor systems. The company’s customer base is global. This partnership showcases two of the best assets in our community – CCCC, who trains our future and existing workforce, and Conveyor Tech, a prime example of an employer investing in their employees.


The Sanford Herald reported on this partnership on June 19th, but a few points bear repeating.


Dreama Pilson, the company’s human resources director, says Conveyor will essentially double their head count and has been hiring constantly since last fall. They grew from 82 employees in October to 127 by the end of April. And sometime in the 18 months, if all goes according to plan, they expect that number to be 200.


It is especially noteworthy that Conveyor has accomplished this in a very competitive labor market!


So, how do you become an employer of choice? Conveyor does it by investing in their employees.


Pilson had an immediate problem with their rapid growth — training new hires. Cathy Swindell, industry services director at CCCC, was able to bring in a gifted master training instructor who spent a couple of weeks inside Conveyor learning their system, assessing exactly what knowledge and abilities new machine builders needed to succeed on the job. He then designed a training program to provide those critical skills.


CCCC provided training space in the Howard-James Innovation Center, a state-of-the-art industrial training facility. Conveyor Tech provided all of the needed supplies, some basic tooling and, of course, a steady stream of new employees.


Pilson now hires in groups of six to eight and sends them to a two-week, 80-hour training class before they ever land on the production floor.


It has been an unqualified success. Not only has training allowed new employees to start building machines with added confidence and skill, it also means Conveyor Tech’s more experienced employees can use their time better. Rather than teaching basic skills to new employees, senior employees now serve as mentors and focus on creating the company’s intricate equipment.


Becoming an employer of choice means applicants are eager to work for you, that others view your employees with respect, that you receive unsolicited resumes and your turnover – especially with your most talented workers – remains low.


Conveyor is just one example. Mertek Solutions is not only a leader in educational partnerships in our community, they are now charting the path for other local industries by developing an apprenticeship consortium. Caterpillar’s welding apprenticeship program, a nationally recognized model, invests in young employees while providing a pipeline of new talent.


Congratulations to Conveyor on their newest success and to CCCC for being always prepared to respond quickly to the needs of local industry. That’s also great news for Lee County job seekers!

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