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President’s Corner

Winning in Workforce Development

How many times have we heard shop owners complain about training their workers only to see them leave to work for other shops or even start their own businesses? If you’re like me, the answer is “plenty.” But what if we didn’t train our machinists? For my money, Milt Thomas, president of Wire Cut Company in Buena Park, CA has the right answer:

“We have a choice: train them and maybe they’ll leave, or not train them and maybe they’ll stay.”

Well put.

In Los Angeles, we seem to have the “Right Stuff” when it comes to workforce development. Our NTMA Chapter (actually, it was the Southern California Tool & Die Association back then) established a training center here in 1968 to train skilled machinists. Shop owners with exceptional vision worked together and created what has become one of the premiere machinist training facilities anywhere in the country.

Since 1987, the NTMA has awarded the William E. Hardman Award for Excellence in Training. It’s awarded on an almost-annual basis to companies, organizations or individuals who have consistently demonstrated strong support and active participation in structured training for the precision custom manufacturing industry. (I’m proud to say that of the 23 awardees over the years, I personally have known 13 of them.)

The Los Angeles Chapter is home to the most winners of this award, narrowly edging out the St. Louis Chapter and several others. The past winners from Los Angeles were:

1993 – Leo Holder – Brown-Covey, Inc. 2001 – Dan Watts – Woodruff Corporation 2010 – Michael Kerwin – LA/NTMA Training Centers of Southern California

Add Milt Thomas to the list! At the annual NTMA conference last month in Kona, HI, the Los Angeles Chapter was thrilled to see Milt win this prestigious award. If ever there was a person with a laser-like focus on training while running a small contract manufacturing company, it would be Milt.

Milt has been serving as an advisor to the LA/NTMA Training Centers since 1983, while chairing the Southern California Tool & Die, Mold, Machinist & Metal Working Trades Apprenticeship Committee for most of that time. And he has provided his vision and leadership on the chapter’s Board of Directors since 1993, serving as president in 2002.

He led the LA/NTMA Team that hosted the 2002 National Apprenticeship Competition and he continues to oversee the Apprenticeship Program through the NTMA Training Centers.

Finally, Milt was elected and served as a Training Center Trustee from 2007 through 2012. Pretty awesome résumé, if you ask me.

So here’s one who really gets the concept of taking personal responsibility for training the next generation of machinists. Thanks, Milt, from your friends here in Southern California and from a grateful industry.

Bob Mosey and Milt Thomas

NTMA Chairman Bob Mosey with Milt Thomas

Congratulations, Milt, for all you have done – and I’m quite sure will continue to do – to assure that our industry is well-prepared with skilled workers for generations.

Until next month…

-John Belzer

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