By Michigan Works! West Central

REED CITY — Like many manufacturers, Osceola County’s Reed City Tool Inc. has seen its share of hard economic times over the years.

With three consecutive Trade Act Certifications from February 2004 through October 2011 and going from 125 employees down to 43 employees, this rural employer continued to look for ways to increase business and keep the company moving forward despite its setbacks. Over the last several years, the company has brought its employee base up to 80, and now with the help of $15,000 received from the Skilled Trades Training Fund, the company is able to re-start its apprenticeship program that had become dormant during the period of downsizing. Five Reed City Tool employees will be trained by Ferris State University to become certified mold makers. Having more journeymen mold makers will allow Reed City Tool to initiate more open capacity with customers and incur improved lead times which will result in the company obtaining more work.

Ferris State University  is delivering the mold maker apprentice training for the four-year certification required by the U.S. Department of Labor, and funding from the Skilled Trades Training Fund will help with first-year costs of the training.

“We are excited to partner with Reed City Tool and Michigan Works! West Central and provide this training,” said Ron McKean, associate dean for corporate and professional development at Ferris. “The beginning series of the apprenticeship training will incorporate face to face, online and hands-on training. The trainings will cover in-depth understanding of calibration, application, general shop safety, equipment start-up and operation, and application and in-depth training on core machining processes. Employees also will be given additional training that will cover CNC programming, parametric modeling, blueprint reading and analyses.”

Paul Griffith, executive director for Michigan Works! West Central, said the Skilled Trades Training Fund application process couldn’t have been simpler, and the guaranteed three-day turnaround time on the approval or denial of the submitted application shows the state’s commitment to making this process as quick and easy as possible.

“We knew that the $10 million allocated to the Skilled Trades Training Fund wouldn’t last long, so we really appreciated the simple application form and quick turnaround time on a decision,” Griffith said. “Because we were responsible for submitting the completed application to the Workforce Development Agency, it gave us the ability to move fairly quickly and allowed the employer to move quickly on training once the application was approved.”

Rod Weck, president of Reed City Tool, agreed.

“We are thrilled to have received this funding,” Weck said. “It couldn’t have come at a better time for us in terms of our training needs. Increasing the skill level of our employees is important to us as a company, and it’s important to our employees. It’s a win-win situation for everyone.”