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Successful Implementations in Lean

Motivated Teen Makes the M.O.S.T. of Situation

By Karen Myhaver, Outreach Specialist, MassMEP

Imagine finding yourself in a classroom taking a lengthy aptitude test, just hours after driving cross-country to Massachusetts from Texas. This is how Derrick Gentry-Mitchell’s journey to Lenox American Saw began.

Derrick is an 18 year old high school senior who, until four months ago, worked at a fast food restaurant part-time while going to school. Derrick is unique in today’s society where, unfortunately, many young people display a real lack of work ethic. His intelligence is obvious, along with an abundance of ambition and love of a challenge. Even though an undetected scheduling error prevented him from graduating in the spring, he is not negative about his situation. Instead Derrick chose to take advantage of his lighter class load and put in more hours at work to save money for college.

In August (2007), while driving home from Texas, his father mentioned that Futureworks Career Center was administering the TABE test (Test of Adult Basic Education) to help Lenox American Saw find employment candidates. Since Lenox has a reputation for being a great company to work for, he suggested Derrick give it a try. With minimal sleep, Derrick took the test and did very well.  He was invited back to Futureworks for a follow up interview with Tim O’Brien, Senior Training and Development Coordinator, Cleveland Burton, Manager of Employee Relations, and supervisors John Guzzo and Claudia Papallo where a mechanical aptitude test was administered. After interviewing 40 candidates, Derrick was offered one of 12 seats in a special M.O.S.T. (Mobile Operators Skills Training) training program that Lenox was providing for their potential employees – right in their parking lot.

Leslie Parady, a MassMEP project manager, had been in contact with Tim O’Brien and knew that the M.O.S.T. program could assist Lenox by helping them find and begin to train, potential new employees. She coordinated the recruiting sessions with their human resources team and the staff at Futureworks and assisted in the applicant screening process.

The classes were taught in five, eight-hour sessions by Matthew Healy of the MassMEP, right on Lenox’s property. M.O.S.T. takes place on the MTU (mobile training unit), a customized, specially equipped Winnebago with 12 state-of-the-art computer workstations and a scaled down CNC machine and lathe. Lenox had opted for an accelerated 40 hour training session where the students would learn the basics of machine operations, shop math skills, and blueprint reading through a series of classroom and hands on projects. This would prepare them for the second step of the program which was 60-90 days of paid on the job training (OJT) provided by the employer, Lenox American Saw.

Youngest Person to Complete M.O.S.T. Program
Derrick said that he was intrigued by the blueprint reading part of the class because it is something he has never seen or done before. He also admits that although he does not like math, he did not find that section of the M.O.S.T. training difficult at all. Derrick is the youngest person in New England to complete the program.

After M.O.S.T., Derrick and the other students received their certificates and underwent pre-employment physicals and background checks. On the job training at Lenox began soon afterwards.

Derrick explained, "I do many things in my new job and continue to learn every day. The best way to learn about the job is to actually do it.  I have mentors who help me learn the skills I need. Some things have come fast and others not so fast. For those, I get extra training and more assistance from a mentor. For example, I can run the machine and I know how to stop it if there is a problem but I don’t have the skills of the technicians to troubleshoot and fix problems yet. But I am working on that!"

Derrick was hired to fill a position on the weekend shift at Lenox, which consists of three twelve-hour days. This schedule allowed him to work full time and take high school classes three days a week. Currently he works in the coatings department and is learning many new skills. He eagerly explained how the coatings adhere to the metal by a molecular process that takes place in a special chamber.  Derrick says he learns new things here every day. He is interested and enjoys coming to work.

Upon graduating from high school in January (2008), Derrick registered at Springfield Technical Community College where he will take classes on his days off.  He plans to take basic academic courses to keep his momentum going and earn college credits.

"I have a lot of energy and like to get things accomplished," he says grinning. Derrick was thinking of a career in the medical field some day, though he admits, "I had never thought of [going into] manufacturing before – not because I discriminate against it or any other job but because I wasn’t familiar with what it was all about, all the opportunities there are."

Derrick now recognizes the potential for a long term career and advancement within Lenox and is taking this very seriously. In turn, Lenox will be investing in Derrick through tuition reimbursement for his college education.

"I really like it at Lenox," Derrick added. "The experience and the people have been great. The (M.O.S.T.) training and all of this has been fun–even the tests.  I really like to be challenged!"

Derrick’s supervisor, Flow Line Manager, John Guzzo said, "I think what meant the most to Lenox was the commitment on the part of those who gave their time without pay (for M.O.S.T. training) to show this company that they were serious about wanting to learn the tools necessary to excel and succeed as members of this team. Derrick not only did this during his training, but has shown that same commitment over the past four months. He is well liked by his co-workers and has vastly become an asset to this company."


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