TEAMWORK

There’s academia, then there are technological skills and finely developed knowledge that comes with experience. Graymont, a global lime producer in Eden, WI, realized that all are important for success, and not necessarily mutually exclusive.

Tom Caves, seasoned employee and Graymont’s Maintenance Planner, observed that some of their people who were recently in school were more well-versed in technology.

“Some of us didn’t love the classroom, yet there are a lot of really smart people here who know their stuff,” said Caves.

Certain staff were also regularly tapped for their unique experience acquired over long careers with the company. Consequently the demand for their time could be overwhelm- ing. A forward-focused leadership team decided to take a hard look at these scenarios and look for ways to improve.

Caves reached out to Moraine Park Technical College. He connected with Beau Gellings of Moraine Park’s Economic and Workforce Development Team. Then things just took off.

“Beau was very easy to work with and attentive to our needs, Caves noted. “He listened, and together we came up with a customized, multi-part plan. Within the plan we:
• developed an aptitude test to measure skills,
• carefully evaluated our data,
• developed a scope of what we wanted to accomplish,
• found the right instructors to fit our needs.”

At first not everyone was keen on delving into comprehensive training. They wondered if it would be like a return to the constraints of a traditional classroom. But, Moraine Park brought the training to Graymont and soon people were comfortable and engaged. They gained trust in their instructors, who could walk out into the plant and actually examine a piece of equipment or
a process challenge that came up in class. That flexibility was a real bonus. Later on, when when it was beneficial, the students headed to campus and made use of the college’s labs. Staff began to see the benefits of not only increasing their knowledge, but sharing their skill sets with the team. Everybody benefited, including measurable returns for the company.

“Graymont maintains 24/7, 365 day a year operations,” Caves commented. “They pride themselves on maintaining remarkable safety and reliability stats–often remaining up and running much longer than the industry standard before required maintenance shut downs.”

Previously, some specially-skilled staff would bear the burden of being on call to keep things running. Now, because of focused cross-training, workers share the responsibility, are more proactive in trouble-shooting and enjoy a better work-life balance.

“One of the greatest takeaways from a partnership with Moraine Park was reinforcing that we have far more strengths than weaknesses. By utilizing Moraine Park’s expertise and getting the buy-in and effort from our team, we were able to use training to level the playing field,” said Caves. “That doesn’t replace area experts, but now we can all contribute at a higher level, and we speak the same language. That bodes well for our future. We ended up turning weaknesses into strengths.”

To learn more about partnering with Moraine Park for customized training, contact training@morainepark.edu or call Angie at (920) 924-3449.

Written by Kristina Haensgen
Public Relations & Events Specialist