Measure of Success: Average employee tenure is 14 years

SGS Tool Company casts a wide net for interns. It recruits young people from local high schools, students enrolled in certificate programs at Stark State College and undergrads from the University of Akron. The company also is flexible in its internship structure, tailoring opportunities to the student rather than pigeonholing students into a rigid program.

A business major from a New Jersey college called the company asking if she could spend a week working at SGS unpaid during her spring break. Gary Miller, director of training and occupational development, agreed and developed a custom 5-day training program for her. “If she’s willing to donate her time, I’m going to support her as much as possible,” he says.

Another came from the Schnee Learning Center, a school in Cuyahoga Falls, Ohio, for at-risk students. Miller met the student while leading a tutorial at the school, which included administration of the pre-employment Bennett Mechanical Comprehension Test for technical and industrial occupations. The young man scored so high on the test that Miller offered him an internship in the company’s prep department. The student quit his part-time job at a fast food restaurant, joined SGS and has since been hired full time in the apprenticeship program.

One incentive that SGS offers interns who stay with the company is financial assistance with college. The intern from the Schnee Learning Center now attends Stark State College, where he is working toward Journeyman Tool Maker Certification. SGS pays for his tuition, books, parking and mileage to and from the college. Once the employee earns his certificate, he can work toward an associate’s degree in applied industrial technology. He will receive 100 percent reimbursement for any class where he earns an A.

SGS invests in its interns, but not all of the expenses come out of the company’s pocket. The tool manufacturer partners with several government agencies and advocacy groups to obtain grants for workforce development. For instance, SGS has an intern in its research and development department who attends the University of Akron. The company pays him $14 an hour. But a grant from Ohio Means Jobs, Medina County, covers most of the wages, leaving SGS to fund a mere $1.53 per hour. “There are so many grants that go unutilized,” says Miller. “This is untapped money – well, others are not tapping into it, but we are!”