Safety is so important to MFG that the company renamed its 5S lean manufacturing program to 6S: It added “safety” to the other pillars (sort, set in order, shine, standardize and sustain). “Safety isn’t a sign on the wall or a monthly talk,” says Lawson. “It’s a living part of the workplace culture.”

Employee Training

Company Name: Miles Fiberglass & Composites
Headquarters: Happy Valley, Ore.
Business Focus: A manufacturer of composite and fiberglass products for the transportation, wind and industrial tank markets
Employees: 48
Plant Size: Two facilities totaling 75,000 square feet

Lori Luchak, president of Miles Fiberglass & Composites (MFC) and immediate past president of ACMA, grew up in the composites industry. MFC is a family-owned and operated business that has spent nearly 50 years providing fiberglass and composite components for numerous markets. “Our employees contribute much to the success of the company,” say Luchak.

MFC offers 32 different training programs, most lasting up to nine weeks, to its administrative, management and technical staff. “Our management training programs focus on leadership, business strategies and high-level business functions,” says Luchak. Since MFC is a family business, the company conducts numerous succession planning programs, identifying internal candidates to fill key leadership positions. The company has also conducted training on lean manufacturing, business modeling and production for its management team.

Administrative and management programs are typically conducted in conjunction with Clackamas Community College, both at the college and at MFC. Classes include English as a Second Language programs, basic math and production 101.

The latter was a customized class built around the production of a fiberglass shower. The instructor relied on a flow chart to visually display the production path of the shower, from the time MFC takes the order until the truck driver delivers the shower. “The class showed how connected everyone is to the process and covered technical and quality issues,” says Luchak.

MFC’s signature training program for production staff revolves around the Certified Composites Technician (CCT) program, mainly the Wind Blade Repair (CCT-WBR) course. “This CCT certification was developed at Clackamas by MFC and is offered through ACMA,” says Luchak. MFC offers courses in all nine CCT certifications to employees after one year of employment and has had a very successful passing rate: Two-thirds of the manufacturer’s employees are certified. (For more information on MFC’s CCT training, visit CM Interviews at compositesmanufacturingblog.com and read Alex Luchak’s Q&A.)

Approximately 25 to 30 percent of MFC’s employees underwent training in 2012. So far, 15 to 20 percent of employees have attended a training course in 2013. Educating employees helps ensure consistency among job functions, which in turn eliminates errors and allows the company to manufacture quality products. “It is important to standardize how a job is performed so that you can guarantee that it is done the most efficient way every time,” says Luchak.