Snap-on associates complete customized training at NE State

Published 9:42 am Friday, November 5, 2021

Five Snap-on associates from the company’s hand-tool manufacturing facility in Elizabethton recently completed 13 months of structured training at Northeast State’s Regional Center for Advanced Manufacturing (RCAM).
“I can’t say how much I appreciate this long-standing partnership between Snap-on and the College,” said Heath McMillian, RCAM director. “Not only is it good for the sustainability of the company, but it’s also good for our region. I appreciate Snap-on for being a leader in workforce development.”
Dubbed the Snap-on 5 by NE State staffers James Furches, Jeff Mays, Wayne Powers, Brian Smith and Rick Walker powered through 135 course-study hours and 272 hands-on lab hours in automation, electrical, and mechanical training — a total of nine classes.
“You made a big sacrifice, and we appreciate what you did and what you will do. You are what makes Snap-on a better place, and you’ve set an excellent example for the future. Your willingness and desire to become better and to contribute more means a lot to the company,” said Snap-on Maintenance Manager David Linville as he congratulated the graduates.
The idea for the structured training started about two years ago when the company identified some skills gaps within its maintenance group. Based on previous experiences with RCAM’s apprenticeship program, Linville said Snap-on thought it could use RCAM resources to bring maintenance workers up to speed.
Linville said Snap-on used National Occupational Competency Testing Institute (NOCTI) exams to pinpoint deficiencies and then collaborated with RCAM for help in selecting classes related to maintenance-specific areas.
“I hoped that they would let us pick and choose certain classes to help us get to where we needed to be,” said Linville. “From there, it all evolved. RCAM had what we needed in the labs and the resources to do the bookwork as well. That was a big gap for us. It was a burden lifted because we had someone we could partner with to make this happen. We were happy to use the company’s tuition reimbursement program to fund it.”
Linville said the company met with likely candidates, explaining how the program could strengthen Snap-on’s maintenance skills, and help the associates with promotions, pay increases, and job satisfaction.
“I think everyone in the plant can see the training speaks for itself,” Linville said. “These associates are doing things they never could do before. We’ve started letting them build control cabinets from scratch. To see these associates, who are strong mechanics, building control cabinets — and having an understanding of how they work — is something we can see has immediately paid off.”
Linville also noted that Snap-on’s equipment downtime has decreased, and the company’s maintenance expenses have improved due to the training.
Graduate Jeff Mays, 59, said he was most pleased about stretching himself and learning, especially since his high school math courses were a distant memory.
“I quit high school in the eleventh grade and went into the Navy,” Mays said. “I completed my GED when I was in the Navy, but my highest math in high school was pre-algebra. So, to be able to do trigonometry was a big deal for me, and I was proud of that.”
RCAM Director McMillian praised the graduates for their dedication and determination, saying, “A community, a region, or a country that doesn’t make things will soon fail. What you do (manufacturing) is the most important job in our country. For every manufacturing job in our region, there are seven supported jobs. So, what you do is everything. Anything we have is here because of manufacturing.”