Small and large business WAT grants can be critical to success.

During the past three years, many businesses have had to downsize staff and resources. Having to do so can place additional strain on a local business — having less people with minimal resources can make it difficult to complete the job at hand. Thanks to Northcentral Technical College (NTC), Langlade County businesses can receive affordable, customized, high quality training that helps them remain competitive.

A key business solution is available — Wisconsin Technical College System WAT grants that cover the majority of costs. According to Brenda Zimmermann Thorpe, Business Development Manager at NTC, “We compete for a statewide pool of dollars with the other 15 technical colleges in Wisconsin, however our college is blessed with exceptional grant writers who spend the time to identify the needs and strategies of local businesses, so we are successful at winning the grants. We develop and submit large and small business grants and can submit up to 12 annually. The college strives to be a long-term partner with businesses providing value. We realize businesses need training to remain competitive and we’ll do everything we can to strengthen our business partners.”

NTC recently partnered with Antigo-based Waukesha Bearing to develop a Team Lead Program for new hires. “We conducted a survey of their leadership style so they could better understand their own style and then compared that to others,” notes Zimmermann Thorpe. From there, NTC developed a 54-hour custom Team Lead Program that was conducted in a series of three-hour workshops during the workday. The program covered leadership skill set fundamentals, OSHA regulations, communicating clearly, working in teams, applying mathematical reasoning, integrity and focus on quality in a continuous improvement culture. The program was so successful that it was refined for Waukesha Bearing’s Rhode Island plant and will potentially serve other facilities in the United States in the near future.

Customized features of the latest training sessions include blueprint reading, precision measuring, leadership and team lead essentials, supervision and management skills, team building in a lean culture and advanced Microsoft Office training. REI Engineering also partnered with NTC and Waukesha Bearing to provide OSHA Safety Inspection and Audit Compliance training. “The programs have been successful because the employees are gaining skills they didn’t have before. They receive information in small bites that they can apply on a daily basis. They have become a team of solid leaders — a group of empowered people who work hard to fulfill the goals of the company. And that breeds competitive success,” notes Zimmermann Thorpe.

NTC has also helped boost the competitiveness of Robbins Flooring on two fronts. First, NTC obtained a Small Business WAT grant to assist in safety certifications. NTC consulted with Robbins Flooring staff and built a customized HAZMAT Training program for transport by air and water. Employees also received OSHA 10 Certification and First Aid/CPR training.

Second, Instructor Travis Allen of the NTC Center of Excellence for Wood Manufacturing provided technical assistance that allowed Robbins Flooring to take advantage of the Center’s Environmental Chamber equipment. Robbins Flooring had two projects that required use of an Environmental Chamber, but it didn’t make business sense for Robbins Flooring to purchase a Chamber of their own. Instead, Allen worked with Robbins Flooring to secure training and time on the Chamber that allowed them to complete the jobs in a price-sensitive manner. “It’s about sharing our resources,” notes Zimmermann Thorpe. “We ask businesses what they need for their workforce and partner to make it happen.”

Kretz Lumber received a WAT grant that helped fund a Lean for Wood Manufacturing program. The 140-hour program was attended by all 98 employees and included train-the-trainer programs that will provide training efficiencies in the future. The customized program included White Belt and Yellow Belt Lean training groups, with lesson plans based on insights gained during an on-site tour by NTC staff. “We held multiple sessions during the workday over a few weeks in order to ensure Kretz didn’t lose precious production time. It was a complete success — they had 100% attendance and the employees feel empowered and re-energized because of it. The sessions helped spark a competitive spirit — they truly want to see their company succeed and feel they are engaged in making that happen.”

For more information about WAT grant opportunities, contact Brenda Zimmermann Thorpe at 715. 803.1426 or ude.c1498621753tn@ep1498621753rohtn1498621753nnamr1498621753emmiZ1498621753 or Michelle Hauer NTC Small Business Development Manager at 715.803.1798, ude.c1498621753tn@re1498621753uaH1498621753.