Caty Shoemaker, seated at center, signs her employment contract as an intern at ORBIS in Urbana. Seated at left is her manager, Laura Reed, materials manager, and seated at right is Shoemaker’s fiancé, Sam McGill. Standing from left are Dan Szklany, ORBIS plant manager; Maegan O’Connor, human resources representative; Tom Walker, scheduler; Sharon Cook, buyer/planner; Shelley Fuller, plant scheduler; Julie McGill, Sam McGill’s mother; Judy and Rodney McGill, McGill’s aunt and uncle; Cindy and Perry Shoemaker, Shoemaker’s parents; Jill O’Neal, Caty Shoemaker’s sister; Dean Ortlieb, Urbana fire chief and a cousin of the Shoemaker family; Karen Chuvalas of Urbana University; Ashley Cook, business liaison of the Champaign Economic Partnership (CEP); and CEP Director Marcia Bailey.
The Orbis manufacturing facility in Urbana held a May 10 signing ceremony for an Urbana University senior who has begun a scheduling and purchasing internship at the company, which makes reusable plastic containers, pallets, dunnage and bulk systems for industrial customers.
Caty Shoemaker, a West Liberty-Salem High School graduate who will graduate in December from Urbana University, was joined for the signing ceremony by ORBIS leaders, representatives of the university and Champaign Economic Partnership (CEP), and family members, including her sister Jill O’Neal, a former member of the ORBIS team and now human resources operations manager at Weidmann Electrical Technology in Urbana and a member of the CEP Board.
The ceremony, patterned after signing ceremonies that colleges conduct for new student athletes, was coordinated with ORBIS by Ashley Cook, business liaison of the CEP.
Shoemaker is majoring in strategic management and minoring in accounting and marketing at Urbana University, a branch campus of Franklin University.
Karen Chuvalas, business development manager of the university’s UrbanaWORKS program, said that Christopher Washington, executive vice president and CEO of the university, is developing relationships with local companies to establish internships and co-ops. He wants all students to complete an internship or co-op before graduating.
Bundy Baking Solutions held a signing ceremony a week before for three local students who have joined their workforce.
Workforce development is a major focus of the CEP, she said. Following are examples of how the CEP and its partners are strengthening the local workforce:
Business Liaison Ashley Cook, who teaches Ohio Hi-Point Career Center’s Supply Chain Management program at Urbana High School, coordinates activities that bring schools, students and businesses together throughout Champaign County. This includes job fairs, in-school presentations by businesses and spreading the word about internships, job shadowing opportunities and job openings.
Nancee Starkey, human resources generalist at Bundy Baking Solutions, said that Cook helped her set up presentations at Graham, Urbana and Triad high schools. She added that a few Graham seniors are working second shift at Bundy while they finish their studies.
Ruhe added that Triad High School graduate Zack Zizzo, who was in the Ohio Hi-Point Advanced Manufacturing program, is now working at Orbis as a paid intern while he completes the two-year mechanical engineering technology program at Clark State Community College – with tuition assistance from Orbis. He will continue working at Orbis after he graduates in June.
Ruhe said that Orbis met Zizzo at a local Manufacturing Day event where he presented a 3D printing project he worked on at Triad.
Also, Urbana University is working with employers to:
Szklany says ORBIS will benefit from Zizzo’s internship. “We’ll have a new employee who has the skills we need to succeed and who understands our culture.” He adds, smiling, “and has new ideas to bring to the plant.”
Zizzo came to ORBIS endorsed by Todd Bodey, who teaches Ohio Hi-Point Career Center’s Advanced Manufacturing program, which began at Triad High School in 2015, at the start of Zizzo’s junior year.
Before going into education, Bodey worked for a variety of companies, including Honeywell Aerospace in Urbana, so he knows what manufacturers look for in employees.
Advanced manufacturing program
The Advanced Manufacturing program at Triad is a product of a manufacturing workforce partnership formed by the Champaign Economic Partnership (CEP), Champaign County’s economic development agency. The CEP worked with local manufacturers to form the Champaign County Manufacturing Human Resources Council. Local schools have also been brought into the partnership to help find ways to prepare students for skilled jobs that manufacturers are having difficulty filling.
Debbie Wortman, Ohio Hi-Point’s satellite director, got involved in the partnership. She said that representatives of local manufacturers told her, “We really need to do something to create a more prepared workforce. This can’t wait.”
And that’s how the Triad Advanced Manufacturing program came to be.
Zizzo is the second Triad Advanced Manufacturing student to intern with a local manufacturer. Kaleb Kaylor interned at the Hall Company in Urbana in the summer of 2016, after graduating from Triad and before beginning studies at Wright State University.
Bodey said 52 students are enrolled this school year in the three courses offered in the Advanced Manufacturing program – Manufacturing Operations for first-year students, Computer Integrated Manufacturing for second-year students and CNC Technologies for third-year students. Next school year, the fourth year of the program, Robotics will be added to the curriculum. And the program includes introductory classes for middle school students.
Many Advanced Manufacturing students will go directly from high school to manufacturing jobs, while others like Zizzo and Kaylor will obtain additional training and education.
Champaign County’s manufacturing workforce partnership has been promoting manufacturing careers in additional ways that include:
Part of the challenge in preparing a new generation for manufacturing careers, Szklany said, is helping students and their parents “understand that modern manufacturing is a great place to build a career, and plants are driving innovation. We’ve got great, talented employees who are working with new kinds of technology all the time.”
“It’s not factory work,” adds Zizzo, who has been working in machine maintenance and programming CNC machines at ORBIS. And when he graduates from Clark State, he’ll have two career paths to choose from at ORBIS, Szklany said: preventive machine maintenance or engineering/project management.
Marcia Bailey, director of the Champaign Economic Partnership, said that manufacturing jobs can provide a good living. “The Dayton Development Coalition just reported that annual manufacturing salaries in Champaign County are averaging $64,000 in the third quarter of 2017.”