An Apprenticeship Program Provides Discipline for an Entire Organization
As I sat down with my business partners (and sons) the other day
to reflect, as we often do, on the state of our business, it
occurred to me that times have been tough for sure, but we are
hanging in and it seems we will emerge stronger than ever. Am I
bragging? No. Am I proud? For sure!
So, you may ask, why do I feel Thomas Phoenix International is
so strong and continuing to grow? It's simple. The discipline and
rigor of our apprenticeship program is carried through our entire
organization. We have a code we live and work by, but basically it
all comes down to safety, education and training. Back in 2005, we
worked with the state of New Jersey to get our training program
recognized. The U.S. Department of Labor came to understand that we
were not iron workers, not carpenters, and not sheet metal workers.
We were a trade class all our own. Back in the day, our trade class
was considered kind of unique. Today, I am happy to report the
"Apprenticeship Program-Assembler, Engineered Metal Building
Systems" is not so unique.
In 2009, the Metal Buildings Institute-the educational arm of
the Metal Building Contractors and Erectors Association-worked with
the U.S. Department of Labor, ultimately receiving approval and
endorsement in early 2010 to administer national guidelines for an
apprenticeship program for Assembler Engineered Metal Building
Systems. Quite a few companies have jumped on board. The program is
taking some heat in some states but will ultimately prevail because
training your men and women is always the right thing to do. Right
for the crew, right for the job, right for the contractor, right
for your bottom line and right for the future of our industry.
So, what exactly is an apprenticeship program for Assembler,
Engineered Metal Building Systems? Let's start with a quick
explanation of what apprenticeship is:
• It is the premier model for training and educating your
• It is a highly structured, in-depth vehicle for developing
highly skilled workers to your specifications.
• It is industry driven.
• It is the insurance a business needs, now more than ever, to
ensure that they have an ongoing stream of talent development that
will maximize productivity, reduce turnover, increase the level of
safety while reducing workers compensation costs and develop
loyalty and dependability in employees.
• It provides a high return on investment.
• It provides national recognition, distinction and added
respect for your business among
your industry peers.
In many cases, it is a management training tool as well. Simply
put, apprenticeship is a strategic investment in the sustainability
and future growth of your company and industry combined.
"Apprenticeship, Assembler Engineered Metal Building Systems" is
a nationally recognized program that combines 4,000 hours of
on-the-job training with 296 hours of additional learning mainly
through the use of the Quality & Craftsmanship DVD Training
Series, webinars, classroom and speakers.
The program is gaining ground. I encourage you to check it out
so you are not left behind. This past spring, I was invited to
speak to the Executive Committee of the Metal Building
Manufacturing Association. Several of their members were surprised.
Surprised that such a program existed and surprised that we had
federal recognition for our national guidelines. All members were
impressed and excited about this development. All companies
represented at that meeting were supplied with a copy of MBI's
Quality & Craftsmanship DVD Training Series. They received a
copy of the training guidelines and more importantly, they are
working with us to ensure that this program becomes more widely
understood and accepted.
Gary T. Smith is president of Thomas Phoenix
International Inc., Eastampton, N.J. He serves as chairman of the
Apprenticeship Committee for the Metal Buildings Institute, the
educational arm of the Metal Building Contractors and Erectors